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wwd beauty inc

pete unplugged

Conversation Starters

WWD’s Pete Born talks to the new generation of bloggers who are helping established beauty brands resonate with a wider consumer base.

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stée would be pleased. high-end beauty line, but not necessarily fitting into an overall lifestyle.” Decades after she coined her well-worn slogan—“Telephone, Schuman sees her role as writing about a gamut of different products and how telegraph, tell a woman”—her dictum on the power of old fashioned they add up to “this overall kind of elevated lifestyle.” She notes, “a [magazine] over-the-counter social media has been updated to texting, beauty editor just focuses on the one product,” while pointing out “both are equally tweeting and blogging, thanks to the digital age and a cadre of important, but they are very different roles.” self-made makeup and lifestyle experts broadcasting to a horde Schuman says she came to the brand on her own. “As a child, my mom and my of followers. The latest to emerge is Emily Schuman, a 28-yeargrandma used to give me their samples to play with. But as an adult I found the old who founded her own Cupcakes and Cashmere blog and signed on as Estée brand on my own. The nail polishes are fantastic. Then I discovered the lipsticks; Lauder’s social media and guest editor for esteelauder.com earlier this year. She bright and matte and exactly what I was looking for.” follows Michelle Phan, who earlier signed on with Lancôme, and the pioneering Her attraction to the brand is key, considering that, on the surface, a blogger’s Lauren Luke, who started the digital pixels flying and recently signed on as a image of independence and impartiality might seem at odds with a gig as a guest digital ambassador for Unilever’s Simple brand. editor for a brand. “I see myself as an editor,” she says. “One of the things that I “They’ve got a following and they are today’s entrepreneurs,” says Jane find most appealing and most intimidating about Estée Lauder is that there are a Hertzmark Hudis, global brand president of Estée Lauder. ton of products that appeal to different races and different “I’m not so sure they are not close to Estée Lauder herself.” ages.” She adds, “At the end of the day, I’m putting out Some questions are inevitable: Are these the new products that I love and that reaches a very niche audience.” authorities in beauty? Will department store beauty In that sense, she sees herself as completely independent. advisers and magazine editors take a back seat? The answer “That’s the only way this collaboration would have worked.” so far is “No.” If anything, the new digiterati are greatly Wendy Liebmann, chief executive officer of WSL Strategic —Jane Hertzmark Hudis widening the conversation with their instant, global reach. Retail, touched on an observation made by Hudis, that it Web users have formed a community, like magazine readis tricky business to reach out to a new generation of users ers and TV viewers. The give and take across the Internet is while trying not to alienate your loyal base. “They are part changing the way consumers are behaving, according to media watchers. People have of a new conversation, a more democratic power of the people to drive and build long been searching for a sense of validation of purpose or desire. In terms of the Web, sales,” Liebmann says. “How do you, as an established company, take part in the that means a democratization of aspiration and communication. But there’s still a conversation?” The digital experts are not usurping the role of beauty advisers in pecking order. Consumers want to look to a leader. None of this seems to be diminish- the stores, they are transforming it. “When a customer walks into a store, she can ing the clout of old media, especially for fashion magazines that have embraced the be better informed than ever,” Liebmann says. cyber age. There is a convergence with the old and new. Of course, the street cred of Companies have to wholeheartedly embrace the new digital order and move celebrities is hard to match. “One tweet from Rihanna is worth more than a week of it to the center of their organizations, she insists. That involves overcoming TV,” says one keen watcher of pop culture. generational hang-ups. It also means getting the message right. “It only works if Hudis notes that Schuman touches on the classic Estée Lauder vision of lifestyle you’ve got the product and image that is relevant,” Liebmann says. “If you’ve got with its highly stylized advertising of the past. “Emily is close to that, but she does it nothing to sell them that is appropriate, so what?” in today’s way—in a blog.” “In today’s world, you can’t cheat the consumer,” says Marc Speichert, chief Or as an observer notes, “It’s a new way of consuming media” with bloggers putmarketing officer at L’Oréal USA, talking about Michelle Phan and the company’s ting the message in “a generational language.” other efforts in the blogosphere. “It’s very important for us to be authentic. I am Schuman, whose Cupcakes and Cashmere blog attracts three million visitors not going to drive consumers to the channel if they think we are pushing Lancôme a month, has written a number of posts picking out a slew of Lauder products products.” Speichert notes that a key asset is Phan’s sense of authenticity as she she likes and even hosted an event at the Century City branch of Bloomingdale’s uses different products. in Southern California, promoting Lauder’s Mad Men limited edition color Speichert sees the bloggers as fulfilling an important role, the second step in his cosmetics story. four-stage “path to purchase.” After the first phase—the traditional media-driven “We’ve seen an incredible increase in traffic. Context is so much of everything,” consumer awareness and consideration—comes the evaluation step, and that is Hudis says, noting that Schuman has provided “a fresh context. It’s a game changer.” where a blogger can keep a consumer from losing interest. The demographic of Schuman’s audience has been described as from 18 to 34 or For her part, Phan is going a step further, launching a new video channel called 44. The typical Lauder customer, at least in North America, is older. FAWN (For All Women Network), in which she and others rove around the globe “The ultimate goal is to mesh the two brands,” Schuman says. “On my site, I am looking for local beauty looks and tips. First up was Italy and next is New Zealand. trying to promote an elevated lifestyle that meshes well with the Lauder brand, The digital and geographic worlds of beauty are coming into alignment. Are you a kind of sophistication. People saw the Lauder brand as this really established, on board? Let me know at peter_born@fairchildfashion.com.

BB1204-PG06-Pete.b;9.indd 6

ILLUSTRATION BY LARA TOMLIN

“They’ve got a following and they are today’s entrepreneurs.”

3/28/12 11:09 AM

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Bloggers: The Industry's Conversation Starters, WWD April 13, 2012  

Wendy Liebmann, chief executive officer of WSL Strategic Retail, touched on an observation made by Hudis, that it is tricky business to reac...

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