The Ask

Envision the future of the Estee Lauder brand in four different ways, then bring one of them to life in a creative way. Create a strategy plan to bring the brand into your chosen future.

The Background

The Research

Three trends driving the beauty industry currently are cannibalization, customization, and diversity.

Cannibalization: In the 1980’s there were about 150 departments stores in the United States. Today, there are only 13 namesakes. The slash in numbers is largely due to the rise of the internet as a shopping platform. It comes as no surprise that consumer spending on beauty products has shifted online faster. However, that hasn’t devalued the in-person personalized experience that retail stores can provide. Even online-only beauty brands like Glossier see this value and has created two flagship stores in Los Angelos and New York.

Customization: This second trend has unfolded in two formats: custom formulas and virtual try-on apps. The ladder is the most approachable for brands and consumers as these allow users to virtually try lipstick colors, blush, eyeshadow, and more. There are even apps that can teach you how to apply makeup. Custom formulas like Le Teint Particuleir by Lancôme use patented technology to scan your complexion or DNA and create custom products based on your skin type or unique color.

Diversity: Since the emergence of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, brands have begun stepping their game up for inclusive shade ranges. For so long, brands left women of color with only one or two ashy-toned shades. Or entire undertones, like olive-tones, were left to play mixologist to find a semi-presentable shade. However, despite this push for more inclusivity, brands have still missed the mark like Tarte Beauty’s Shape Tape Foundation or Beauty Blenders Bounce Liquid Whip Foundation. Both foundation lines were dragged through social media.

Four Scenario Planning

Based on our research, we envisioned four scenarios that could affect Estee Lauder’s future. From there, we crafted stories for each quadrant that would explain how Estee Lauder would position themselves. Lastly, we chose the scenario that would most likely happen based on our key findings.

The Recommendation: Exclusive Experts


Until today, you’ve been missing from most palettes. Thirteen shades of ivory have never been enough. Until today, you’ve been forced to play mad scientist, mixing colors and tones until your makeup finally looks like what you look like.

But today, more than half of the United States population is Black, Hispanic and Latinx, Asian, Indian, Native American. Faces have never looked so different, or so much like yours. And finally, makeup does too.

On-the-spot hyper-customization. Advanced face-scanning technology. DNA-driven pigment identification. Fancy-sounding technologies that do one thing: create makeup that doesn’t just look good on you. This makeup is you. In this future, the beauty store is not where the search for the right product starts. Because when makeup is scientifically designed for you, there is no search.

Freed from the responsibility to listen and diagnose, in-store consultants—both human and the AI that help them—become your expert creative partners. Together, you explore the technology and you don’t simply wonder what’s possible. Together, you make it possible. Right there in the store.

It’s why legacy beauty brands reign. Because when makeup is data, and the data is yours, you trust the original innovators in beauty. The names known for quality. The years of work put in to redefine what beauty can be, and expand who it’s for. There is no one Estee Lauder woman. There is only you -- and the highest quality product made for you.


We strove to position Estee Lauder to thrive as exclusive experts on personalized beauty that is driven by DNA.

The Recommendation

First, implement packaging design that is reflective of the personal creation (i.e. fingerprint).

Next, create the Estee Lauder First Class Membership that provides members customized products year-round. For example, Estee Lauder will be gearing up to send you a custom foundation or moisturizer for the winter as the seasons begin to shift.

Finally, Establish Estee Lauder flagship stores that are focused on the personalization of makeup and skincare. Brands like Glossier have seen the value of having a flagship store. By establishing Estee Lauder’s first U.S. flagship store focused on personalized beauty products, the brand will once again revolutionize the beauty industry by being the pioneer of personalized service.

The Recommendation (cont.)


Brianne Johnson (Strategy) | Bonni Erica (Strategy) | Nick DeLeon (Strategy)