Public Relations, Store Tie-Ins Launch "Green" Cosmetics Line

Public Relations Journal, April 1991 | Go to article overview

Public Relations, Store Tie-Ins Launch "Green" Cosmetics Line


Public Relations, Store Tie-Ins Launch "Green" Cosmetics Line

Special environmental events and joint promotions with top department stores helped Estee Lauder successfully debut a cosmetics line designed to be "harmonious with nature." Most of the line's visibility has come from word of mouth and good press. Sales have exceeded the company's expectations.

An extensive public relations campaign and local promotional tie-ins with leading department stores allowed Estee Lauder to successfully launch its "Origins" cosmetics line last August. Designed with environmentally friendly ingredients and packaging, plus a built-in recycling program, Origins products convey a "green" sensitivity to consumers without the usual media advertising and marketing hype.

Origins has been introduced via environmentally sensitive promotions in 30 upscale department stores in cities from coast to coast. Designed with recyclable, green packaging and without animal ingredients or testing, the line has become an overnight success, largely through public relations rather than media advertising efforts.

Most of the new products' visibility has been achieved via good press and word of mouth, noted Rebecca C. McGreevy, APR, senior vice president, public relations, Estee Lauder Cos., the parent organization located in New York City. Origins, also known as Origins Natural Resources, Inc., is a "totally new concept in skin care, color and sensory therapy," she added.

The new line's success is "unique in an industry that can cite many success stories," McGreevy continued. The launch was not accompanied by traditional cosmetic advertising or promotional hoopla, she explained. There were no extravagant media budgets, glamorous models posed in scandalous situations or sensationalized photographs. Origins' advertising, a simple product shot, appeared and continues to appear once a month in two publications, The Sunday New York Times Magazine and L.A. Style.

"Green" spells success

Origins was developed to meet consumers' green expectations. The skin care and beauty line has been so successful that Lauder will soon open its first freestanding Origins store in Cambridge, MA. The store will fulfill "Origins' commitment to total well-being" by offering a broadened product line, according to William Lauder, vice president/general manager of Origins and grandson of company founder Estee Lauder.

"We wanted to be environmentally responsible," said William Lauder. "But we realized that being green could not be our sole reason for being. What's more, we believed that simply slapping a `Now Recyclable' banner on your package doesn't make you green. True green is a special sensitivity that must permeate every aspect of your marketing platform and actions.

"We had faith in our consumers' intelligence," he went on. "We didn't need to clobber them over the head for them to recognize the principles we stood for."

The Origins team also recognized that customers had high expectations of cosmetics bearing the Lauder name, especially when sold in upscale stores like Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman. As a result, Origins' marketers made a deliberate decision to offer superior products whose commitment to the environment would support the brand's sales and enhance its image.

Took years to develop

Origins' product concept began more than six and a half years ago when Estee Lauder began exploring the importance of the green movement vis a vis cosmetics. Origins products were designed for women seeking a healthy life-style and a more harmonious relationship with nature. Every product is formulated to this end, "combining the best of science with the best of nature," Lauder's McGreevy explained. The new line reflects changing times and points the way to the 21st century, she added.

"Origins is the first major cosmetics company to bring naturals and aroma therapy into the mainstream," the public relations executive observed. …

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