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Jane Hertzmark Hudis on Why Beauty Needs a Global Perspective

"Trends come from everywhere," said Hudis, group president, Estée Lauder Cos.

Succeeding in beauty means having a global perspective, according to Jane Hertzmark Hudis.

The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. group president told the audience that “an amazing curiosity and passion” is what it takes to succeed in beauty today. Hudis also spoke about the importance of having a global perspective, sharing that social media is a window into trends all over the world.

“I’m constantly on social media, looking to see not just what my brands are doing or the competition in beauty, but what’s happening in art, design, architecture and all over the world,” she said. “We all have to be globalists and understand what’s happening in China, Japan, Paris, [South] Korea, Florida. We have to know what’s happening all over because trends come from everywhere.”

She keeps up with her global teams by communicating with them and traveling. “If you have the opportunity to travel globally, you should,” she said. “You need to see the world to understand what’s happening.”

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And though it’s important to understand what’s trending globally, it’s not always necessary to apply these trends to your brand, as every brand needs a distinct perspective.

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“DNA, brand equity is everything and the reason brands can last forever,” Hudis said. Brands often get away from their own DNA by chasing trends, she added, citing La Mer and Bobbi Brown as two brands that have stayed true to their DNA since the beginning.

Hudis was the first to sign Kendall Jenner to a beauty brand. Jenner became a key part of the Estée Lauder turnaround story and also taught Hudis what social media was about. Hudis added that North West, the daughter of Jenner’s half-sister Kim Kardashian, is “the coolest. I think she’s a great next generation of that family.”

China is a key driver in the beauty world, according to Hudis. “You need to be there every six weeks because the market is changing so fast,” she said. “Every part of that market is vibrant and booming and exciting. I think it will continue to influence the world no matter what.”

She also sees sustainability as an important part of beauty’s future.

“Sustainability is a responsibility of all businesses,” she said, adding that each brand needs to have its own sustainability strategy that evolves over time. “It applies to all of us.”