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Social technology is bringing the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. full circle — back to the kind of personal touch founder Estée Lauder advocated.
This story first appeared in the October 15, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Consumers are no longer interested in being spoken to from on high,” said Dennis McEniry, ELC Online president. “They want a seat at the table.”
See a video highlight of Dennis McEniry and Marisa Thalberg discussing customized consultations>>
Marisa Thalberg, vice president of global online marketing for the company, said: “It must definitely be a two-way relationship. For big brands like us, this is a big shift.”
It is also a sizable opportunity. The fastest growing category online is beauty how-to. This year there are more Web browsers running on mobile devices around the world than on personal computers.
“It’s important to us to engage our consumer where she is today,” McEniry said.
A campaign in which MAC makeup artists tweeted from behind the scenes of New York Fashion Week got 500,000 views for spring-summer 2009, more than 2 million views for fall-winter 2009 and was widely picked up by beauty bloggers.
The company nurtures its communities on the major social networks. For example, MAC is the number-one brand on Facebook (in terms of fans), Thalberg said. Several brands have YouTube channels, and the company listens to what people are saying about its products on Kaboodle and Twitter. In Asia, brand sites are optimized for mobile phones.
Lauder builds microsites around important product launches such as Sensuous.
The company uses search engine data to understand what customers want. “New hair style” is one of the most-searched terms online, so Aveda developed its online hair advisor and hair gallery.
The company continuously tests search engine ad copy and landing page creative to see what produces the highest click-through rate.
Targeted e-mails — such as those about lipstick to customers who indicate an interest in color — have produced sales increases of as much as 500 percent.
Clinique received more than 14,500 product reviews in less than a year. The average product rating across all sites is 4.7 out of 5. Reviews are edited only for hateful speech and pornography.
Estée Lauder is shifting more of its marketing budget into the social arena. “We’re trying to be where our consumers are,” said McEniry.