Estée Lauder: Makeover gone too far?

When I think of Estée Lauder, I think of makeup that old ladies with perfectly applied blush would wear. Estée Lauder’s core demographic consists of older women with more mature skin. Their makeup is timeless, classy and well, a bit boring to me. I usually walk past their makeup counters without a second glance. The only time I’ve tried it in the past 2 years was for a powder foundation which I fell flat for me. The brand itself seems a little outdated to me and they don’t really have many cult classics, aside from their Double Wear Foundation. Because none of their products seem very innovative, I’m never tempted to go out and try them.

Lately, the brand has been trying to appeal to the younger makeup crowd. To do this, they have improved their Instagram posts by carefully placing their products in strategic positions and finding the perfect lighting to show them in. However, I do think their posts are a bit too planned. It’s nice to see some posts that are spontaneous and imperfect; it connects to the public more. The point of social media is to cast yourself in a good light but it should still be personable. Recently, Estée Lauder also made Kendall Jenner the new face of Lauder. This move has stirred up a lot of controversy being that Kendall Jenner is from the Kardashian clan, a family that thrives on scandal. Making Kendall Jenner a part of Estée Lauder seems a bit desperate. Their plan is to most likely attract young teens that want to wear some of Kendall’s favorite Estée Lauder products who probably can’t even afford to buy those products. I think celeb placement can only get them so far since their products don’t seem innovative or daring. There are many other younger celebrities that Estée Lauder could’ve chosen as their new face that would still channel the brand’s classic identity. I also wonder why they haven’t come out with any new and exciting lines that will get beauty bloggers and makeup artists talking about the brand. Besides their double wear foundation, there isn’t anything exceptionally rave worthy about the brand which casts it in a troubling position in the age of online makeup blogs and videos.

Estée Lauder doesn’t really have that appeal that would make younger makeup enthusiasts want to try their brand. For example, Chanel is for more mature women yet they have a certain allure that makes even younger women want to try it. I know many younger women would want to try Chanel because of their luxurious and classic allure. Even if they can’t afford Chanel products when they are young, they would consider saving and splurging on them in the future. There is something missing in Estée Lauder’s brand identity that separates itself from other classic brands like Chanel.

In order to keep up with the times, many brands often try to start appealing to the younger crowd, alienating their core older demographic. The problem I have with this is that the younger set isn’t really where the money is at and trying to appeal to them when your brand is clearly for the more mature set screams of trying way too hard to be cool. There’s a fine line between broadening your market group and trying too hard to rejuvenate your brand. I’m not entirely sure what their marketing team is trying to achieve. If they wanted people to start talking about the brand by using Kendall Jenner, then they’ve succeeded. Using Kendall Jenner’s name to gain some popularity seems like a cheap cop out at a new marketing initiative. They say no press is bad press but I think in order for Estée Lauder to stand the test of time, they’re going to have to start coming out with more innovative products to gain new customers and keep their old ones too.


JCPenney: Will you survive?

JCPenney is a place of mixed feelings for me. I’ve visited a few locations spanning 2 different states and they each vastly differ from the other. The California locations in San Diego and Orange County are so sad and depressing that I usually can’t wait to get out of there. I only visit them if someone I’m shopping with wants to go or if I really want to go to the Sephora inside JCPenney. The California locations are often empty and the clothes do not look appealing. The displays look outdated and the floors are usually dirty. I view JCPenney as a place to score some cheap clothes that are better quality than the usual Forever 21 standard. I can’t even bring myself to browse the store for a quick deal since it looks so unappealing to me. I’ve also been to an Ohio location and the store and vibe is much different there. The JCPenney there was clean, the store was easy to navigate, and the displays looked appealing. The last time I went was for Black Friday, a day where stores can become messy but the store was brimming with shoppers yet wasn’t messy.

There is obvious potential for JCPenney. Clearly, they are doing something right at some locations since they are brimming with people but not at others because those stores are empty and rejected.  I think JCPenney needs to tap into their different markets and research how different locations view JCPenney as a company. There has been talk of JCPenney losing sight of their core customers because of their pricing. Instead of giving out coupons like they normally do, they started to slash prices instead. Personally, I like the coupon method because I can choose what item I want to buy for a lower price instead of seeing something I want and passing it up because it’s not on sale. Now, they’ve mostly reverted back to the coupon method but they lost many customers in the process since the lower price method was too confusing for them.

Their partnership with Sephora was most likely started to help with foot traffic and advertising. However, if people go inside JCPenney to shop at Sephora and aren’t enticed to browse the clothes there as well then this needs to be changed by adding trendy displays near the Sephora stores. Whenever I go to JCPenney in California for the Sephora stores, I don’t stop to browse the store on my way out. The displays don’t call out to me or look trendy so I am not tempted to make additional purchases there.

Overall, JCPenney as a whole looks sad and dejected. I’m not saying they should become a fast fashion trendy company but no one wants to shop at a depressing place. In fact, becoming a fast fashion store would most likely hurt them and alienate them further from their current customers. There has been talk of closing down JCPenney stores that are not doing well and aren’t making profits which is good so that they can focus on the remaining stores. JCPenney has been working on rebranding the company by carrying some trendier brands and working on partnerships with designers. One partnership they pursued is the one with Aaron Marino, or Alpha M. Increasing their partnerships and endorsements with influential people in the fashion and entertainment industry will help potential customers view JCPenney in a new light. Hopefully, they can work on the overall appearance of the store itself so people will want to actually shop in them. As for the online shoppers, I don’t believe that JCPenney will be able to gain more shoppers that way unless they make their stores and brand more appealing. People currently reject JCPenney because they don’t find it appealing so they will not be likely to shop online if they don’t find items they want there. JCPenney has potential and I’ll be watching to see if they tap into it or continue their downward spiral to join Sears.