Beauty conglomerate Estée Lauder Companies continues to prioritize technology.
Estée Lauder brand has linked with Kode With Klossy, the STEM-focused coding program, for a multi-prong partnership in which program scholars will learn Estée Lauder coding curriculum to then design a consumer-facing website for its new Pure Color Envy Rebellious Rose collection debuting in September. This follows other recent technology-forward moves by ELC, including the debut of its Long Island City Technology Hub and first-ever hackathon last winter.
“We wanted our scholars to experience the power that technology can have within the beauty industry, especially with how consumers are interacting with brands today on websites and mobile,” said Karlie Kloss, founder of Kode With Klossy. The two companies have been slowly building on their relationship: In 2018, Kloss became an official Estée Lauder Global spokesmodel and brand ambassador, and earlier this year, Estée Lauder became one of several partners to provide scholarships to 1,000 young women between the ages of 13 and 18 to attend a Kode With Klossy summer camp. Estée Lauder would not detail its total investment in the program.
The custom curriculum, developed by an ELC project manager and two key engineers, will be rolled out at 23 web development camps this summer. Kode With Klossy camp-goers will help code 15-plus digital assets, including videos and social media assets, and co-develop Easter eggs (or surprise digital animations) for the Rebellious Rose website. Additionally, two of the program’s formermembers will also intern on the brand’s online team for four weeks, and Estée Lauder employees, like Laura Leslie, ELC front-end technology lead, and Alexandra Joachim, executive director of product development, will be presenting in a two-part Kode With Klossy speaker series taking place at the NYC-based camp.
“We’ve given the scholars real-life code, and we are looking to them to play with it, come up with ideas and give us feedback on what we can use and do for the real launch,” said Jon Roman, Estée Lauder svp, global consumer marketing and online.
Rebellious Rose is Estée Lauder’s brand’s top-selling lipstick shade worldwide. For the September launch, the company will expand the offering to a three-piece collection that will include a new lip gloss and liquid matte. ELC’s online division, for its part, continues to best brick-and-mortar stores: In the company’s latest earnings report, net sales online in the U.S. grew across both brand and retailer websites, and Estée Lauder Companies called out the need to change its sales mix to better satisfy these faster-growing channels. The Kode With Klossy partnership plays into that goal.
Industrywide, beauty companies are looking at new ways to innovate beyond their own four walls. Prior to Natura & Co’s acquisition of Avon Products Inc., Avon announced its partnership with the Women Startup Competition Europe to not only find emerging brand and product ideas but also discover tech solutions. L’Oréal USA brought back its Women in Digital Next Generation accelerator program in 2019, after retooling it, to find digitally native tech opportunities.
“Creative brands are not typically thought about as places to work with code, but they can be. Estée Lauder considers itself a technology company as much as a beauty company, so innovation and ideas are happening on both sides,” said Kloss of the program.
“Technology was once such a male-dominated arena, and our female leaders in our Estée Lauder online teams are the ones making that stronger connection between beauty and tech, and understand how it affects what the end customer wants,” said Roman.