By  on June 1, 2007

Nearing its 40th birthday, Clinique is aiming to grow by returning to its youthful roots and tapping into the power of nontraditional media.

The brand was founded in 1968 as a dermatological skin care line and ranks number-one in U.S. department store sales for women's facial treatment and color cosmetics. According to The NPD Group's figures for calendar year 2006, the brand did $1.2 billion in retail sales overall in the U.S., with $452 million done in women's facial treatment and total makeup sales of $600 million.

But even the strongest of brands needs a periodic freshening-up, especially when faced with a growing crowd of upstart doctor brands — and Clinique global president Lynne Greene is determined to do that with a new youth-oriented spin on its venerable Three-Step skin care line and an accompanying Internet initiative; a new consultant education program being piloted late this summer, and a retooled counter design.

"Our mantra is cherish the past, but invent the future," said Greene. "We are inventing the future of Clinique with the same touchstones that Clinique was originally founded upon. We clarified what those touchstones were, and decided how they should be amplified for the future."

Those touchstones, said Greene, are simple: dermatological heritage; allergy-tested and 100 percent fragrance-free; youth accessibility and appeal, and the unique client experience.

It's that last point that Greene calls "the very heart of Clinique," and the leading edge of a group of initiatives. Dubbed the "Clinique Unique Client Experience," it will include extensive counter redesigns and an educational program that the firm is calling Consultant Accreditation, designed to boost the skill level of the people selling the brand in stores. Consultant Accreditation is a three-tiered program, which has been reviewed by Dr. Norman Orentreich, the founding dermatological consultant to Clinique, and his wife, Dr. Catherine Orentreich, as well as by Weill Cornell Medical College — where the brand has established the Clinique Skin Wellness Center — to improve consultants' expertise on skin physiology.

"The dermatologist, for Clinique, is what the backstage is to makeup artist brands," said Greene. "We work with these dermatologists all of the time, and we're working to magnify that proposition. We're amplifying it with the relationship of the Clinique Skin Center at Weill-Cornell Medical Center — we have research programs with them, we have the center. We're also working with them on the education program we're doing with The Clinique Unique Client Experience."

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