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How Clinique Is Changing to Keep Up With the Times

The brand is tapping influencers and creating trend-driven collections, according to global brand president Jane Lauder.

Clinique is making changes.

The brand, founded in 1968 during the feminist movement, has found itself in another era of change, said Jane Lauder, global brand president of Clinique.

“We’re at the start of the next great wave of change,” she said. “What made us unique in 1968 and helped us grow was that we came with a challenger mind-set.”

Three main things have shifted, Lauder said: The retail and distribution landscape; media and communications, and the face of beauty.

“With a heritage brand you need to assess your roots and anchors,” Lauder said. That means balancing the brand’s heritage and points of differentiation with tweaking brand execution in the name of relevance.

At retail, Clinique has more than 18,000 consultants, who are now enabled via social media to reach more customers than ever before, Lauder noted. Those consultants are one type of influencer — but Clinique is now working with other types as a means to get its brand story out there.

“It’s still about our editors and articles, yet the age of influence has expanded and exploded,” she said. YouTube has become even more important, Lauder said, citing a recent focus group where participants talked about an entirely new brand category — the YouTube brand.

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To play in the space, Clinique went out and found influencers that already used the brand, like Kandee Johnson, and tapped into them.

“We decided we’re going to find these influencers who already love and are authentically using Clinique, work with them and boost their media, and continue to build this stable of influencers,” Lauder said.

It’s involved handing over control over content creation to the influencer, Lauder continued. “We had lots of robust discussions around letting go,” she said. “For me this was a big moment of saying, ‘You need to take risks’ but of course, calculated risks.”

Clinique, founded by former beauty editor Carol Phillips, is now sold in 150 countries or territories with more than 22,000 points of sale. The brand sells a moisturizer every 1.5 seconds and a foundation every two seconds, Lauder said. Clinique’s sales have struggled as U.S. midtier department store foot traffic has slowed — but Clinique has been working to revamp its business, and is making moves to be relevant to today’s consumers.

They include upping social media efforts, making on-trend collections like “ath-leisure-for-the-face” line Clinique Fit, Lauder said. “As our world changes we’ve had to make changes too.”

Those shifts include Lauder herself getting in on social media campaigns, like the brand’s Take the Day Off Challenge. To support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the brand encouraged customers, employees and celebrities to take off their makeup to support the BCRF. Lauder participated, joking that her video did not garner as many views as some other participants’.

“One of the things I believe is that leadership is never asking someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself,” Lauder said.