By Elisabeth King
Throughout its history Clinique has faced a constant rollout of new doctor brands. We are one of the strongest global skincare brands, but need to remind consumers that our touchpoints are the defining reason behind our continued success, says Janet Pardo, Senior Vice President, Global Product Development. “Clinique cherishes the past but looks to the future and we have remained at the top through a simple message - Great skin can be created. The cornerstone of the brand is the globally-recognised 3-Step Skincare System and Clinique’s founding principles remain an unrivalled dermatological heritage, accessibility to women of all ages and products that really work”.
Pardo, one of the world’s most respected and quoted beauty industry executives, has been at the very heart of Clinique, initially in the 1990s and then returning to the brand in 2003 to take on her leading role in product development for the brand. An innovator dedicated to staying ahead of the pack, she has guided the creation of many of Clinique’s best-selling products, including the Repairwear franchise, Almost Lipstick, Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm and Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, Clinique’s most successful launch to date. She also leveraged two other breakthrough products - Smart Custom-Repair Serum and the Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush. Esprit spoke with Pardo during her recent visit to Australia for the release of Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator.
Clinique doesn’t alter formulas just for the sake of change, says Pardo. The original Moisture Surge launched in 1988. The formula was upgraded
in 2008, but only after 10 years of further R&D. Gel/creams are commonplace today but Moisture Surge was revolutionary when it was first launched. We have extended this competitive edge in the new formula that contains a moisture-holding super matrix and hyaluronic acid to form a film that locks in continuous moisture for up to 72 hours. The skin’s own natural moisture supply is boosted by activated aloe and caffeine so skin looks fresh and dewy all day”.
Clinique has always differed from its major competitors because of the brand’s ability to draw in customers aged 18 to 24 years old. “There aren’t many brands who can say they’re partners with the retailers in bringing that age group through the door”, says Pardo. “Not only today but through the generations. With the amount of data overload young people are exposed to these days, they are still searching for the right information. It takes 50 years to build trust and one day for it to die, which is why Clinique holds itself to a very high standard”.
The essential concepts of the brand remain the same as they were at the beginning and I love talking about the genesis of the brand, says Pardo. “Not everyone knows about Clinique and we need to amplify who we are, especially now that storytelling is such
a major strategy for brands to connect with consumers. Leonard Lauder, Estée Lauder’s Chairman Emeritus, was looking for a way to provide high-performing skincare products to women with sensitive skin and he spotted a story in Vogue magazine in 1967 about dermatologist, Dr Norman Orentreich. Mia Farrow was on the cover and it was a crazy time - wars, protests, pushing boundaries - much like it is today”.
The article was written by US Vogue Editor, Carol Phillips, and titled - “Can Great Skin Be Created”, adds Pardo. “Back then there was no standard approach to skincare and Dr Orentreich explained how a routine of twice-daily cleansing, exfoliation and moisturising could benefit all skin types. It was the basic outline for Clinique’s 3-Step System which is derived from understanding the way the skin actually works. Dr Orentreich is now 93 years old and still goes into his New York practice three times a week and we still meet with him regularly for insights”.
Pardo believes that the 3-Step System will continue to be at the centre of Clinique in the decades to come. “The name might sound simple but we’re talking big science. Anything else you put on the skin after cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising will work better. That’s not a promise - it’s a fact. People say to me - but I’ve been told not to use a toner. I always tell them that Clarifying Lotion is not rubbing alcohol and the older you get the more you need it”.
The 3-Step System remains Clinique’s bestseller for another reason. “It’s not complicated. With just a few products, women can complete an effective skincare routine in three minutes. Good skin can be achieved quickly and doesn’t require a lengthy ritual. In fact, we’ve always had a strong market in Japan because Japanese women get the fact that Clinique is a complete regimen”.
Our goal of meeting individual skin needs by categorising skin types and problems has played well in all the 135 countries the brand is available in, especially major ones like the US, the UK and China, adds Pardo. “As the importance of dermatology continues to strengthen, Clinique is attracting new customers because it was the first major dermatologist-created, allergy-tested and 100% fragrance-free skincare brand and we continue to work closely with leading dermatologists to magnify this proposition.”
A bottle of Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion is sold somewhere in the world every 3.7 seconds, but the brand is also a dab hand at colour cosmetics with big sales to match. Pardo’s most celebrated “baby” is Chubby Stick Moisturizing Colour Balm, which has spawned an army of knockoffs.
“Our makeup business is huge. We go head-to-head with Lancôme with mascara because the formulas are not only the ultimate in lash enhancement, they are safe and allergy-free. Mothers bring in their daughters because our formulas are the bridge between skincare and makeup and our foundations such as Even Better Makeup and Beyond Perfecting hold number one status in the premium category in leading markets”.
It’s up to other brands if they followed Clinique’s lead, but Chubby Sticks were not an attempt to be trendy, says Pardo. “We were thinking - How can we make it easier for our consumer by giving her one product with more benefits. They are interesting, fun and easy-to-use and that’s why there was a tremendous response from the beginning. One Chubby Stick sells globally every six seconds”. The world has changed. Skincare technology has changed. And so we have adapted while staying true to our roots which is challenging, says Pardo. “Today, China is now the Estée Lauder Group’s third largest online market, behind the US and the UK. Clinique has its own e-commerce site and we also have a storefront on Tmall. We’ve also taken a big position in digital over the past few years because it’s a non-negotiable for all beauty brands”.
But the importance of BAs and advisors remains as crucial as it ever was and we also train sales personnel for speciality retailers like Sephora, says Pardo. “Clinique has never used celebrities and we have more than 20,000 Beauty Consultants around the world. They do tutorials, blog posts and videos and they are the best ambassadors to talk about the heritage, performance and quality of Clinique products. Everything is cyclical in the beauty business and, happily for Clinique, Millennials are again seeking quality products that really deliver”.
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