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Digital: The Future of Storytelling at Estée Lauder

Alicianne Rand shares insights on the company's storytelling strategy at WWD's Digital Forum.

“Marketing is not about the stuff you make, it’s about the stories you tell,” said Alicianne Rand, executive director of global content and influencer marketing at The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.

Storytelling is an increased focus for Estée Lauder, which has a daily reach of more than 177 million people on Facebook and Instagram. In her talk, Rand outlined four questions the company considers when it comes to the storytelling process: “what drives us,” “who inspires us,” “how do we execute” and “where are we going.”

The first of these is “creativity-driven, consumer-inspired storytelling,” which has proven to drive sales, particularly in the case of Clinique. A video advertising the brand’s Fresh Pressed Daily Booster racked up 16.3 million views on YouTube and an increase in searches, which ultimately led to the product selling out globally within its first month on the market.

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Patrick Starrr, a Filipino-American YouTuber known for challenging beauty industry norms, is an example of someone who inspires the storytelling. Starrr partnered with MAC on three collections, the first of which sold out within a month.

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“When a brand has a stance and shares its point of view, even if it challenges conventional norms of what society thinks is right or wrong, those are the brands that win,” Rand said.

For execution, Estée Lauder focuses on video content fit for social media platforms like YouTube.

Every single day, we spend over a billion hours watching YouTube content,” she said. “That’s more than Netflix and Facebook video combined. By the year 2020, 75 percent of content we consume will be video.”

Estée Lauder has worked with Google to develop what Rand called “the ABCDs of effective video storytelling.” These include: attracting the viewer’s attention within the first five seconds of the video, incorporating proper brand placement, forming a connection with the viewer and directing the viewer on what he or she should do next, i.e. buy product.

“We are hit with content from every single angle, which is influencing our purchase decision,” Rand said. “What this means for us as brands is we need to get creative and open up new paths of discovery and conversion and think about how we can leverage technology to make this a reality.”

One way in which Estée Lauder is leveraging technology is through an augmented reality experience that allows customers to try on as many as 30 lipstick shades in 30 seconds. This receives 31,000 global daily interactions and leads to a nine percent increase in basket size for those who use it.

The company has also partnered with Google Home on Liv, a voice-activated technology that answers questions pertaining to nighttime skin care. First-time users typically spend more than six minutes interacting with Liv, whereas returning users spend more than double that.