When Estee Lauder launched their ‘Estee Edit’ sub-brand a year ago, I did a bit of a double take. What was an iconic and classic brand so steeped in history doing launching a throwaway ‘cool and hip’ collection that was so drastically different to what we were used to? With the face of a generation, Kendall Jenner, to back the concept and help encourage those digital natives via her Instagram account to buy everything from illuminators and pore vanishing sticks, to metallic eyeshadows and coconut lipgloss, it probably seemed like a great idea in the boardroom – but as they announce they’re to close the brand and discontinue all products less than a year after its launch, it’s definitive that it didn’t work in reality. So where did it all go wrong? Why couldn’t an infinite budget, the most premium stockists, a super cool boutique in London’s Carnaby Street or even a Kardashian save this bright and edgy brand from failure? In a nutshell, Estee Lauder forgot who their customers were.
If you ask anyone over the age of 30 to describe Estee
Lauder, they’ll undoubtedly use words that include ‘classic, iconic,
premium, trustworthy’ and ‘used by my mum/gran/sister.’ However, those
under the age of 30 probably see it as a bit stuffy, boring and not for
them at all; (this is totally my own opinions and perceptions, and not
based in scientific fact by the way!) Digital natives have been spoiled
for choice, with colourful, fun, edgy and attainable brands (including
Urban Decay, Too Faced, MAC, Kat Von D and Benefit) vying for their
attention with something truly unique and Instagrammable. Even if they
don’t want to spend a lot, they’re overwhelmed with the likes of Makeup
Revolution, Rimmel and Collection offering up dupes and pretty good
alternatives at pocket money prices. Although brands are falling over themselves to recruit this generation of beauty enthusiasts in order to turn them into long-term customers, those young girls that are better at eyeliner flicks than you are actually increasingly disloyal and have less disposable income than the generations that have gone before them.
They simply don’t have fifteen quid to chuck at a lipgloss, nor do they need to when there are about fifty different options in Superdrug that will set them back less than a Strawberry Frappacino. Premium makeup is something they aspire to own, or is saved for birthdays or Christmasses – rather than being able to rush out and buy anything and everything a celebrity tells them to. (This isn’t rocket science; what teenager do you know that can chuck £30 at an eyeshadow palette without blinking? Thinking of it, what 30 year old can?!) With the growth of the influencer, they’re also more wised up about where they should invest their money and where they can simply dream/stalk their favourite YouTuber to live vicariously through them.
Although the Estee Edit products, from what I’ve seen, were actually quite good and a touch more affordable than the traditional Estee Lauder range (a lipgloss would set you back around £10.50, while a metallic eyeshadow is priced about £14.00,) there was such a huge discrepancy between the products their core consumer demographic (who are probably in their 30s, 40s and 50s) knew and loved, and this new bold collection that was developed for an instagram generation. Too much emphasis was placed upon the influence of Kendall Jenner, rather than communicating core values or a reason why people should buy into the products – something that’s increasingly important in such a noisy marketplace. It seems that Victoria Secret models aren’t the answer to everything.
Estee Lauder have such an amazing and long-standing reputation, with products that are beloved across the world. However, those customers are much older than those they were so focused upon capturing – regardless of what they like to think. Over the last few years I’ve seen so many brands attempting to converse with teenagers or 20-somethings, when actually their core customer base is ten or twenty years older; we may not be as pretty, we may not be as aspirational, and we may not look as flawless in your pictures, but there’s no shame having a long-standing loyal customer over the age of 30. It’s so blooming frustrating. For me, the failure of The Estee Edit to capture the attention and imagination of a younger consumer says more about the reputation the overarching company has than the performance of the products, or even the direction or branding; Estee Lauder forgot who their core customers were and what they were doing so well (in terms of NPD and cult classics) instead, sailing off into the complete opposite direction and entering a market that’s never been harder to succeed in.
Those of us over 30 have the disposable income, desire and need to spend more on our beauty products, but few brands are speaking to us directly or attempting to give us what we need. With far too much focus on the young-uns that actually need little more than a moisturiser and flick of mascara in the mornings, many big names are in fear of alienating us altogether. Although it’s a sad story and a disappointment for all those involved, the demise of The Estee Edit is also a warning to other brands who are thinking of doing the same: don’t forget who your core customer is and don’t think you can fool the younger generation into parting with their cash so easily.
What are your thoughts on The Estee Edit and it’s quick demise?
If you want to stock up on The Estee Edit before is is lost forever, you can still buy it online via Selfridges here – prices are set to reduce by 30% to clear stock too.
Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.