The Business Biography of Estée Lauder

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Estée Lauder is responsible for creating one of the world’s most successful high-end cosmetic firms based on the free-sample sales strategy, which she pioneered.

Lauder’s company also became known for its commitment to testing product formulas and developing them into consistent top sellers.

Estée Lauder – Let Me Teach You How to Sell…

Born to a Hungarian-Jewish immigrant couple, Josephine Esther Mentzer spent her early years living over the family hardware store. In 1930, she married Joseph Lauter, who became her business partner. The family eventually changed their name to Lauder, but the couple divorced in 1939. They remarried three years later and stayed married until Joseph’s death.

Estée Lauder began her foray into the cosmetics industry by offering the skin creams made by her chemist uncle to beauty shops, resorts, and beach clubs.

In 1948, she convinced Saks Fifth Avenue bosses to provide her with counter space to sell her products. Lauder’s personal selling style combined with good products did wonders for the fledgling brand. She continued attending every new counter or shop launch even after enjoying 40 years of success in the cosmetics industry.

She mingled with rich, famous celebrities that were mainstays at her big dinner parties. Her personal selling style was well known among her famous friends to whom she would give her product samples. Her friends used to keep her samples in their handbags and the Estée Lauder brand became associated with this exclusive crowd.
The first Estée Lauder fragrance was Youth Dew, the bath oil cum perfume launched in 1953. It began the trend of using fragrances by the bottle with ones bath water rather than the traditional way of dabbing a couple of drops behind the ears. This trend drove sales in its first year of release to 50,000 units. By 1984, sales had skyrocketed to 150 million!

She was known to regularly visit a grandson’s store on weekends and state, let me teach you how to sell.

Today, Estée Lauder has expanded worldwide, employing over 20,000 individuals across the globe. The members of the Lauder family empire are billionaires and their brand remains one of the most popular to this day.

The Estée Lauder Quick Bio

Full Name: Estée Lauder  (Josephine Esther Mentzer)

Birthdate: July 1, 1908 (some sources state 1906)

Birthplace: Queens, New York

Company: Estée Lauder

Industry: Personal Care or Home Products

Key Success Traits:  

Ambition (according to son Leonard); great salesmanship; identifying her product with a high-end crowd as well as the aspirations of the general public; constant product development; very personal management style; identifying with the concerns of her main target market: women.