Renowned cosmetics brand Estée Lauder has opened its second store in India, a boutique in Bangalore’s premier luxury mall, The Collection at UB City. Over the next three years, Estée Lauder plans to open 20 locations and expand into cities that include Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata. The first store opened a couple of months ago in Mumbai.
Founded in the US in 1946 by Estée Lauder, who died aged 97 in 2004, and who believed that “all women can be beautiful”, the brand is sold at more than 18,000 locations in more than 135 countries and territories today. Estée Lauder Companies Inc makes and markets skin care, make-up, fragrance and hair care products. Its brands include Estée Lauder, Clinique and M•A•C (two brands already in India), Aramis, Prescriptives, Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, Aveda and Coach. The various faces of Estee Lauder include high-profile people such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Elizabeth Hurley.
Excerpts from an e-mail interview with Sonia Michon, Vice-President and Regional Director, Estée Lauder, follow:
Estée Lauder is a well-known brand for many Indian women. We are confident the timing is right to bring Estée Lauder to India and that the brand will be a huge success.
Who is your target customer?
Estée Lauder’s products are targeted at women in their twenties and above. They answer needs for all ages and styles.
Are you customising to India?
All locations in India will feature the brand’s best selling global products as well as products chosen specifically for Indians.
Specific initiatives implemented for India include six additional shades of Double Wear liquid and powder foundation and a colour collection called Jewels of Summer, created by Ms Lauder’s granddaughter, Aerin Lauder, Senior Vice-President and Creative Director. We are also introducing our skin care range called Cyber White in India as the Asian consumers are interested in a brightening regimen that addresses skin discoloration in the form of age spots and help restore evenness of skin tone. By contrast, we’ve found that in North America and Europe women are more interested in addressing lines and wrinkles.
Service is our key focus area, as we truly believe that luxury and service go hand in hand and it’s the service that is key to sustaining success in a market.
How will you let people know you’re not just another high-priced brand?
When one buys this product it is not so much the price that one looks at, but the effect it will have. If there is a product that helps a woman feel beautiful and enhances her self-confidence then no price is too high.
Do you see yourself having to do quite a job of convincing people to part with their money for your products?
When Esteé Lauder established her beauty business in the US, she had four products and a mission to show “as many women as I can reach not only how to be beautiful but stay beautiful.” For instance, the Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lifting Crème is priced at Rs 12,110. Its introduction in 1958 in the US marked the beginning of the prestige skincare category. Until then, no one had ever paid such an amount for a face cream. The lure of the product was its rare, expensive ingredients and its luxurious texture.
Will any Indian be joining the celebrities who are the faces of your brand?
The faces of Estée Lauder need to be truly global and be ambassadors of the brand in all our markets. It is important that every woman at every age can relate to them. So far there are no plans of choosing a spokesmodel from India.
What are the brand-building plans?
For building the brand we have strategically chosen to have freestanding stores in the country that extend the true Estée Lauder experience. We are advertising in high-end magazines and the marketing is in line with the international strategy and plans.
What is your retail strategy?
All our locations in India are strategically chosen to provide our consumer the true Estée Lauder experience. Mumbai was the first of four anticipated freestanding stores in India, a boutique in Mumbai’s premier luxury mall, Galleria @ Trident followed now by our store here in Bangalore’s UB City Mall. Over the next six months, Estée Lauder is also scheduled to launch two freestanding stores in Delhi, one in Promenade and one in Courtyard Malls.
We were looking for the right way to enter India from a distribution standpoint. We decided freestanding stores in strategically chosen retail environments were the best option to present our brand image and connect with Indian consumers. If the environment is right we can be present in a mall or high street; we may have shops-in-shops and our products may be available at multibrand outlets like we have internationally.
How much are you planning to pump into retail stores’ expansion?
The country has a huge potential for growth in the luxury beauty sector and we will make the requisite investments in the market as and when called for.
You have taken a minority stake in Forest Essentials, an Indian company.
Forest Essentials gives us a stronger presence in the rapidly expanding beauty business in India. We also see now more and more consumers are interested in beauty products with natural ingredients. Additionally, Forest Essentials stand to gain from Estée Lauder’s expertise in the high end luxury brand building and gain international leverage.
Do you plan to bring in any of your other brands here?
Yes, we are looking at synergies to bring in more brands.
Are you looking at manufacturing here in the near future?
So far we have no plans.
6 months ago