Here you'll find the things and events that inspire and shape the work of New York-based advertising copywriter Katja Bartholmess. A trend spotter, fashion friend, globetrotter and party host, she promises to entertain and delight. -- Tends to be opinionated, so read at your own peril.

Rendez-vous with Estee Lauder's CEO

"I've never been listened to by so many women before." Fabrizio Freda, CEO at Estee Lauder since 2008, is a charming man. And one who knows how to steer a company to success even in challenging times. No wonder the Newsmaker Forum, organized by Cosmetic Executive Women, was sold out and buzzing with the high-heeled leaders and aspiring executives of the beauty industry.

Fabrizio Freda talked about change, innovation, changed consumer behavior, the internet -- and frogs. He's eloquent and full of fantastic insight. My pen never got to to rest and I'd like to share my favorite quotes with you.

Fabrizio Freda about change:

"Challenging the status quo is the most important thing a leader can do."

"Look reality in the eye. Don't change just for change's sake and know what you shouldn't change but understand that some changes will be disruptive."

For those who don't believe that disruptive change can be a really good thing, Freda had a little example:

"If you -- and I don't advise that you actually try it -- throw a frog into boiling water, he will jump right out of the pot to save its life. But if you put a frog into water and bring it slowly to a boil, it'll only notice when it's too late for it to save its life."

"Create a new vision, define the key elements of change -- and make it understood by the entire organization. Alignment throughout the organization is critical. The same priorities have to apply to everyone. And understand that 'being aligned' doesn't mean that you get rid of the diversity and differentiation within your organization."

"I recommend a 'reverse engineering' approach. Where do you want to be in 5 years? What has to happen to get you there? -- Implement those changes."

"The recession was a great force to accellerate the changes that were due anyway."

Fabrizio Freda on innovation:

"If you want to be innovative in the beauty market, you have to look at your most demanding consumer in every category."

"If you want to invent the best brightening cream, look to the Japanese women. If you want to invent the best mascara, look to the French women. -- Satisfy the most demanding consumers and bring the results to the whole world."

Fabrizio Freda on changing shopping behavior:

"The 'new normal' is for our consumers to be more sensitive to craftsmanship and experience. She buys less for status and judges more harshly. But she has also understood the meaning of 'value' -- and that's not about cheap product."

"I hope she -- the consumer -- will continue to go forward and not go back to her old shopping patterns."

"The prestige brands offer a moment of service to the consumer. You can have a learning experience about new trends, the best way to use a product. You can indulge and treat yourself to a moment for yourself. -- For instance, 50% of Estee Lauder's customers come to Lauder to replenish. They want to be pampered and sprayed. -- We have to ask: What does that mean to us?"

"The consumer ist ready for this message: It is about the experience."

Fabrizio Freda about the internet:

"Digital is changing the world of communication. Advertising has become a two way street with the consumer in control."

"The new advertising is closer to 'storytelling.' The story travels across the world, creates conversations."


I hope some of the quotes resonated with you. I know that I was thoroughly inspired -- and glad that I was able to tell Fabrizio Freda in person.

Let me know if you have any questions. (Like, what was in CEW's legendary goodie bags?)

Anonymous wrote 8 years 11 weeks ago

This was very informative.

This was very informative.  Thank you for sharing. 

Best Nadia

Katja wrote 8 years 12 weeks ago

I'm so glad you liked it! :-)

I'm so glad you liked it! :-)

Anonymous wrote 8 years 12 weeks ago

Love this! Thanks so much for

Love this! Thanks so much for writing it! XOXO/Alisa


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