EXCLUSIVE: The Estée Lauder Cos. Dips Its Toes Into Amazon With Clinique Launch

It’s a new era for the Estée Lauder Cos.

For years, the beauty company has held off from launching any of its brands on the retail behemoth that is Amazon, but in a change of strategy, Clinique is debuting in the U.S. Amazon Premium Beauty store on Wednesday.

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Clinique will be the first of a select few brands within the Estée Lauder Cos.’ portfolio to do so, according to the company. It is not yet known which other brands will join.

Of the move, Fabrizio Freda, president and chief executive officer of the Estée Lauder Cos., said: “We are thrilled to be strategically expanding our consumer reach in the U.S. as a select few Estée Lauder Companies brands open dedicated storefronts in Amazon’s fast-growing Premium Beauty destination over the coming months, starting with Clinique today. Clinique launches with its dermatologist-guided skin care and makeup products, which can be quickly delivered to consumers’ doorsteps.”

Most of Clinique’s product offering will be available to purchase via Amazon, including bestsellers such as Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+, Moisture Surge 100H Hydrator, High Impact Mascara, Almost Lipstick in Black Honey and Clinique Happy.

At the same time, Clinique developed a Skin Analysis tool for its Amazon storefront to coincide with the launch. The interactive questionnaire in Amazon Premium Beauty will custom-fit a skin care regimen for Clinique’s consumers.

The about-face comes at a trying time for the beauty company, whose other brands include La Mer, MAC, Tom Ford, Estée Lauder and more. Weak demand in Asia and at home have weighed on earnings in recent quarters, causing its share price to sink.

Such a move could help matters. In a note to investors late last year, Oliver Chen, an analyst at TD Cowen, stated that some of Lauder’s legacy brands were skewed toward older women in the U.S. due to their heavy distribution in department stores. Chen stressed that as its distribution structure evolves, he sees opportunities to reach a younger audience and recapture share in the U.S. market.

Amazon certainly has the ability to help it broaden its reach, with more than 100 million unique beauty customers. Morgan Stanley even predicted that it will take over from Walmart Inc. as the biggest beauty retailer in 2025.

“U.S. beauty continues growing and Amazon is one of the primary contributors to this growth so we feel confident that Clinique has multiple distinct opportunities to be able to speak to beauty savvy consumers and offer different experiences,” said Michelle Freyre, global brand president at Clinique, in an interview.

It also fits in with the wider changing attitudes toward Amazon in both fashion and beauty. Wary at first, brands are increasingly seeing the retailer as an important platform to reach customers, with Coach, Victoria’s Secret and Levi Strauss & Co. among those that have started selling on Amazon. In beauty, Clinique joins rival L’Oréal-owned Lancôme,  Youth to the People, Keys Soulcare, IT Cosmetics, Urban Decay, Ralph Lauren Fragrance and Shiseido, among others.

On why now, Freyre pointed to Amazon’s experience and capabilities improving over the past few years.

“Amazon has continuously refined, evolved and elevated its fast-growing premium beauty store with a very tailored prestige, beauty consumer experience and offering unique capabilities and strong equity building opportunities for its brand partners,” she said.

And evolve it has. After acquiring Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon gained access to more mass market brands and subsequently launched an indie beauty program, while expanding into professional beauty. In 2020, it began offering Luxury Stores, showcasing luxury fashion and beauty brands like RéVive Skincare and Clé de Peau.

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, though. Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs originally launched in 2018 as the first exclusive beauty brand to partner with Amazon — but the brand didn’t see the runaway success it had hoped for and relaunched with Sephora. And a few years ago, a number of big brands including Nike and Birkenstock left Amazon.

In an interview with WWD, Melis del Rey, Amazon general manager of U.S. stores, beauty, baby and beauty technology, said Clinique is a brand that Amazon consumers have been actively searching for.

“We see some of their core products being searched constantly,” she said. “Launching Clinique on Amazon Premium Store is a delight for our customers. We have a very broad and diverse customer base and when we look at our customers, they are ultimately the customers of Clinique.”

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