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BEIJING — Already billing itself as the number-one prestige beauty brand in China, Estée Lauder is making a new push into the market by launching its Pure Color line, highlighted with a limited edition collection by makeup artist Tom Pecheux.
The new China campaign was kicked off Nov. 19 in Beijing with a fashion show and party that boiled over into an ecstatic homecoming for Liu Wen. Liu, a native of the Chinese capital, was named Estée Lauder’s first Chinese global brand representative earlier this year. The show and press reaction was described by one onlooking executive as a heady response “not rivaled since the launch of Opium in New York City” in 1978.
Along with Estée Lauder’s Pure Color launch in China, the cosmetics giant unveiled Pure Color Metamorphosis — a limited edition eye shadow and lip gloss conceived by Pecheux for China, which will go on sale here, in Hong Kong and the U.K. in spring. In all, 24 Estée Lauder Pure Color eye shadow shades and 28 lip gloss colors (each priced at about $37) are to make their debut by summer. Pure Color was unveiled earlier in other global markets.
Company executives said China is its fastest-growing market, and largest market outside the U.S. Estée Lauder already has seen success by tailoring skin care products to Chinese women, executives added, including Cyber White lightening and brightening creams. The Pure Color line has been customized for China for its launch.
“We have tremendous acceptance among Chinese women,” said Jane Hertzmark Hudis, global brand president of Estée Lauder, discussing the performance of the brand’s skin care business in China. “We’re about to turn our attention to the color market.”
Estée Lauder’s approach to China’s growing middle class is a careful one, with expansion plans into new cities, as it considers over-expansion could dilute the brand, executives said. Estée Lauder began advertising its products in China about five years before it entered the market, noted Daniel Annese, senior vice president and global general manager for market development. The brand is now carried at 95 locations in China.
Annese said the company has been able to craft products for the Chinese market that have worked well elsewhere in the world, and is approaching color with that same strategy. “The Chinese woman is very discerning; she puts a lot of emphasis on product performance and quality,” said Annese. “We understand that one size does not fit all. That is creating a standard in the company.”
The brand is said to be experiencing extremely strong double-digit growth. The company does not break out numbers but industry sources see this introduction as potentially a $25 million launch at retail. The company does $300 million at retail in China, according to industry sources, most of it by the Lauder brand.
Fabrizio Freda, Lauder’s president and chief executive officer, told an investor conference in September: “China is growing so fast, we expect it to be our second-biggest Asian market this year, overtaking Korea. Last year, the Estée Lauder brand became the number-one prestige beauty brand in its distribution in China. Pivotal to its success is its prestige aspirational positioning and locally relevant innovation.”
“We launched Origins, our ninth brand in China, last spring and expect to open more than 90 doors this year across our brands in China,” he added.
Aerin Lauder, senior vice president and creative director, said strong, vibrant colors and packaging are at the heart of the line for China, and pink is a centerpiece. The eye shadows are supple and easy to apply, she noted. Executives added that Estée Lauder’s average customer worldwide is about 42 years old, but that their main customer in China is 10 years younger. And while about 70 percent of its customers globally work, that number is 85 percent in China, according to Annese.