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CEW Presents The Estée Lauder Companies’ Dream Team
By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: April 24, 2013
From left, Jennifer Balbier, senior VP, global product development, Artistry Brands (overseeing MAC Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, and Smashbox); Anne Carullo, senior VP, global product development, Estée Lauder and Tom Ford Beauty; and Karyn Khoury, senior VP, corporate fragrance development worldwide, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.
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“It doesn’t really matter what the new technology is as long as the development process is authentic, and we develop above and beyond what the customer is expecting,” said Carullo. Khoury added, “Local relevance is so important. You can’t read a report. You need to see the people and their responses,” said Khoury. “It’s more and more important that you inform the research you get with your own experience. So, you really have to be there."
In discussing what is a truth and what is a trend in the business, opinions varied. Khoury noted the importance of recognizing the game changing moment. “This can be the difference between a company that succeeds and one that’s left behind.” Carullo emphasized the importance of decisiveness and speed to market, while Balbier acknowledged that MAC, once a niche brand, developed a lipstick for Nicky Minaj in an approximately six-week timeframe to coincide with the launch of her Pink Friday album.
While speed and decisiveness are important, according to Carullo, she added, “I think the wheels come off the bus if you try to do that all the time, but it still can be done. It’s very important with skin care, obviously, but you can get a product out in 6-12 months.” In determining which products are truths or trends, Carullo said many things start out as a trend and become a truth. "I think mineral makeup [became] a truth,” she said. Balbier concurred, “I think it was a trend, but the way we made it a truth was by baking it, making mineral eye shadows, and more.”
“Given the growth of the fragrance segment, there are great opportunities. I think we’re going to be seeing multi-platform fragrances, with a focus on the highest quality in the package. We are also looking at new ways to engage the consumer and connect with her pre-purchase,” said Khoury. Recalling a particularly intense period of activity in fragrance, she emphasized the importance of having to think and relax her mind to come up with a new and exciting potential blockbuster.
“It’s like finding a needle in a haystack,” said Carullo. “Sometimes it’s very difficult to find those little nuggets of white space to find the opportunity. However, you’re going to see new ideas in color and textures in cosmetics." Balbier said, “BB creams were white space to all of us, and we all ran with it and capitalized on the trend immediately.”