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Lesson #3: Create the Illusion
Born Josephine Esther Menzter, it was the enchanting illusion and mystery Lauder brought to her life that helped give her company and all her products that similar mystique. She created a romantic and fabulous story surrounding her life, consisting of an upper class background and a life of supreme glamour, beauty and refined tastes. Her company and products then became an extension of this dreamy aura, which proved to be a key-contributing factor to Lauder’s success.
Lauder would repeatedly tell stories to the media of her background as a countess of genteel European heritage who was born in Vienna. According to Lauder, she was a woman of upper class who understood beauty and had taste beyond the average woman. She spent much time cultivating this image, in order to give her beauty products a special edge against her competitors. Lauder’s products were, accordingly, the beauty secrets of the upper most echelons of society.
Having grown up in Queens, New York, Lauder’s early years were anything but glamorous. The daughter of Jewish immigrants, her family did not belong to the upper crust of society. Instead, the family lived on the upper floor of the department store that her father owned and where Lauder spent much time working. But, Lauder had always dreamed of being more. It was for this reason that, after marrying Joseph Lauter, the couple changed their last name to Lauder – the original Austrian spelling of the name – further lending itself to her crafted image of being a countess from Vienna.
“Keep your own image straight in your mind,” said Lauder. It was her understanding of the importance of image that helped Lauder distinguish herself from her competitors and give her products that sophisticated edge they needed to do well. The secrecy that surrounded Lauder’s entire life lent itself to the secrets of her ‘beauty in a jar’; she promised customers the top-secret solution to looking and feeling eternally young. In not revealing too much information about either – her life or her product ingredients – Lauder was shrewdly able to craft the image for both that she so desired. She also left much up to the imagination, which again appealed to customers who wanted to believe they were buying their ticket into a different world, as opposed to simply buying a beauty product.
“To sell a cream, you sold a dream in the early days,” Lauder said, a dream that Lauder spent much time and energy crafting and building up.
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