By: Mandy Leonard
In 1946 Estée Lauder, a master saleswoman, and her husband Joseph started the Estée Lauder Company producing cosmetics in New York City. Now, over 60 years later, with over 20 brands under their banner and controlling around 45% of the cosmetics market, the company is synonymous with quality and beauty.
Originally selling her uncle's products to hotels and beauty shops, within two years, Lauder had managed to secure valuable counter space at Saks. It was her consistent focus on customer service which produced classy sales techniques, personal attention to customers and the pioneering concept of free samples. For Lauder this was a way for her products to be in the hands of people who wanted the best. She understood the power of a brand name and so ensured that all their products were of the highest quality and advertised by women considered the essence of femininity and beauty.
Adhering to the mantra of "think globally, act locally," Lauder could be found at Saks on a Saturday, promoting her products and working with the staff to improve their sales techniques. While never a trend setter, Estée Lauder was the first women's cosmetics producer to introduce a men's range as well as creating a dermatologist guided, fragrance free and allergy tested brand with Clinique Laboratories.
Estée Lauder's ambition and her eye for quality turned her small cosmetics company into an empire with sales topping $5 billion. She remained the guiding force of the company until her death in 2004 and to this day the Lauder family maintains the value systems and sales techniques which helped to transform the idea of beauty into an international business phenomenon.