{Member Insights} How COVID-19 is Impacting the Cosmetic Industry Supply Chain

Member news | May 14, 2020

The FACC-NY network is composed of a diverse mosaic of talented, experienced, and open-hearted professionals united by a desire to share their knowledge, nurture meaningful connections and succeed professionally. In this Member Insights series, we invite a guest member to contribute timely and relevant insight on the challenges happening in their industry and how to adapt for the long-term. 

Learn from FACC Member Colleen Carlotto and her riveting perspectives on the world of beauty affected by COVID-19...At the start of 2020, my role as a New Product Launch (NPL) Manager on the Estee Lauder Global Brand Supply Chain team had a much different outlook than it does today. Working in a product manager role at a global company allows me to work with development teams from across the globe. Even in January, it was apparent that our Asia/Pacific team’s working arrangements were being shaped in unprecedented ways, but the implications for the industry as a whole were not clear until several months later.

COVID-19 has amplified the challenges our supply chain team was already facing, like product development, capacity constraints, and demand planning. However, the situation has also offered a unique opportunity for us to reevaluate the way we do business and how we can improve established processes to work even more efficiently, even from home.

A ‘high touch’ culture is ingrained in Estee Lauder’s history: it is part of what makes this brand and company so special. Estee Lauder said, “touch your customer and you’re halfway there.” Now with COVID-19, we must learn how to take ‘high-touch’ digital. We have to ask the question, “How do we recreate the in-store counter experience for online shoppers?”

In the coming months and years, the cosmetics industry will certainly see shifts in consumer demands. Bringing products to (virtual) shelves to meet these new demands is an exciting task that will heavily rely on the supply chain team. One change in beauty that is almost guaranteed is the shift from product testers. Traditionally, testers have been used in beauty to encourage consumers to try-on beauty products before purchasing. Moving forward, NPL managers must partner with marketing to offer inventive ways to sample products, including evolving the ‘gift with purchase’ strategy Estee coined to get product into - and often onto - consumers’ hands.

Despite the challenges beauty is currently facing, the path forward is allowing us a new opportunity to make impactful changes. I believe this situation is accelerating the path to efficiency through more intentional (read: selective) product offerings and ultimately lower complexity. Our current situation is also offering sustainability greater viability as we move forward ‘doing more with less.’ The Estee Lauder Companies are already committed to sustainable sourcing, packaging and product development, and I know this opportunity will only aid us in moving forward in those goals.

In the words of Mrs. Estee Lauder herself, “We learn too much, every day, to be satisfied with yesterday’s achievements.” As someone who is wrapped in the beauty industry both in profession and passion, I cannot wait to see where we go from here.

This article is written by Colleen Carlotto and is not published on behalf of Estée Lauder™. If you want to connect with Colleen and learn more about her professional background and areas of practice, log into the FACC Member Directory to send her a message.