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Lauder Retires Estée Edit

Some of the company's initiatives for the Lauder brand, like Double Wear foundation and Pure Envy lipstick, are reaching Millennial customers.

The Estée Edit didn’t make the cut.

The line was developed by the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. specifically for Sephora in 2016 and heralded as a way for the company to reach Millennials who shop with multifunctional skin-care and makeup products made specifically for them. Lauder hired Kendall Jenner and beauty blogger Irene Kim to give input, and industry sources once projected the line could do $60 million in year-one sales.

But things seemed to wobble from the start. Last fall, Lauder chief executive officer Fabrizio Freda said in an interview after the company’s first-quarter earnings call that the line was “tweaking and adjusting in collaboration with Sephora” in terms of product and mix.

As of September, sales of the collection will cease in Sephora U.S. and Canada, as well as in Selfridges and the Edit’s freestanding store in London, WWD has learned. Online sales through Lauder’s web site will continue through the end of the year. Right now, the collection is selling for 30 percent off at Sephora. It launched with 82 stockkeeping units, 72 of which were color products.

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Lauder said in a statement: “Estée Lauder created The Estée Edit collection for Sephora to recruit Millennial consumers. Simultaneous efforts by the core Estée Lauder brand have recruited Millennials via digital and makeup at an unprecedented rate. Therefore, after a year of valuable insights and learnings, we have decided that a separate brand in North America dedicated to recruiting Millennials is no longer necessary. We are committed to our partnership with Sephora and we are working closely to strengthen our business in Sephora and develop exciting new programs.”

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The Edit was one of a handful of moves Lauder has made in the past few years to target Millennials and build up its presence in specialty retail stores. Some of the company’s core brands, like MAC Cosmetics in the U.S. and Clinique, have faced challenges with shifting consumer preferences and retail climates, but Lauder has actively acquired other brands — like Becca Cosmetics and Too Faced — with expertise in those areas.

Several beauty industry sources criticized the Edit for its formulations and branding. “You need to be careful how far you push the brand in terms of making it edgy. They, maybe on the branding side, pushed it too much to where people were like ‘You’re just trying to be cool,’” said one beauty industry source. Others suggested Jenner wasn’t the right decision in terms of a spokesperson.

“In general, the most productive influencer relationships happen when brands engage influencers who genuinely love — and have a history using and posting about — their products. It lends credibility and engenders loyalty,” said Conor Begley, cofounder and president of Tribe Dynamics.

Jenner isn’t known for wearing a lot of makeup and has talked about it publicly. At a launch event for the collection in London in May 2016, she said, “If I’m just running errands, I won’t wear much makeup. I’ll throw on a really nice, light foundation, bronzer and some mascara. I’m pretty simple. It takes me 10 minutes tops.” A quick scroll through her Instagram account shows few posts related to the collection.

The Estée Edit never achieved the social media clout of other brands, Tribe data shows. In its best months, it was generating around $5 million in earned media value — compared to brands such as Anastasia Beverly Hills, which generated $496 million in EMV for a one-year period.

But even as the Edit fades away, Lauder remains focused on capturing the Millennial consumer. And the company’s initiatives on the Estée Lauder brand, including the Pure Color Envy lipstick collection at Ulta Beauty, also seem to be going well, said Stifel analyst Mark Astrachan. Lauder has also noted recent success with its Double Wear Foundation line on earnings calls.
According to a Lauder spokeswoman, Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup is the bestseller at Ulta Beauty and during the brand’s fall 2016 launch, 41 percent of Lauder makeup customers during the first 90 days were new to the brand, and of those, 66 percent were between 18- to 34-years-old. Double Wear is expanding from 20 Sephora doors to 60.
“They’re having success with a product that’s branded as the real thing in Ulta, and it shows the brand is not as dead as maybe some had speculated,” Astrachan said. “If you can make the brand itself edgier without having an extension of it, that’s the best scenario.…It can reinvigorate the brand.”
That includes attracting different shoppers because the Ulta Beauty shopper doesn’t generally overlap with the department store shopper, he said. “You’re bringing in new blood to the brand, which you want,” he said. 

You can’t succeed if you don’t try, and failure is just an example of that. I’m not knocking them for it — the fact they’ve had success with the full brand at Ulta is probably more important than the this brand going away,” Astrachan said.