How Estee Lauder Encourages Brand Loyalty by Recognizing Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year! The Year of the Ram (Sheep or Goat) celebration begins on February 19, 2015. According to Doris Ingber’s predictions (feng shui expert), the fashion, food, and publication industries will be financially strong this year, while real estate and insurance businesses will be stable. However, banking, technology (hardware), automobile manufacturing, and entrepreneurs will have tough year.

This year, I was pleasantly surprised to have received two Chinese New Year themed emails from a prestigious skincare and cosmetic company – The Estee Lauder Companies, who owns Estee Lauder and Clinique. Their emails weren’t only relevant, targeted, and timely, but it’s a great example of a company leveraging the power of email to connect with their subscribers to build life-long relationships.

The Estee Lauder and Clinique emails are shown below and can be found here and here. Here’s what stood out about their emails:

  • Element of Surprise – I never would have thought that a non-Asian mainstream business would be sending me Chinese New Year themed emails. I’m Chinese-American, born and raised in San Francisco, California. As a young child, the only time I would see anything advertised in Chinese were from local businesses or the Chinese television station. This was a bit depressing, because I felt unrecognized and there was a sense of alienation, especially for my grandparents, who couldn’t read or write English.
  • Well Designed – The emails were classy and sophisticated. Neither included the stereotypical Chinese figure with slanted eyes, bucked teeth, and a goofy smile. Rather, they did a nice job of pairing traditionalism with modernism.
  • The fact that these companies recognized Chinese New Year and showcase Chinese models in their how-to videos gives the impression that they have a good skincare and makeup line for Chinese woman. Showing your subscribers that you have the right product line for your subscribers’ unique situation is key to building customer loyalty.
  • Timely – These emails were sent a week before the New Year. I give Estee Lauder extra points for launching their email on February 8, because Chinese people consider “8” a good luck number.

While the emails were engaging, I felt that they could have improved on the conversion stage of the customer life-cycle.

  • Product Repurpose – I was really hoping that Estee Lauder and Clinique would sell a Chinese New Year product line, like a special lipstick color with Chinese flowers decorated on the casing. Only Estee Lauder sold a beautifully crafted refillable compact with a ram on it. Although it was pretty, I don’t use that specific type of foundation. Plus, the price point was too high for a Chinese horoscope character that wasn’t even mine. Both brands primarily focused more on promoting the sale of existing products for the New Year. If creating a new seasonal line is too expensive, I would have at least liked to have seen a bonus gift offer that included a Chinese themed makeup case.
  • Launch Earlier – Chinese people spend a lot of money to start fresh for the New Year, like buying new clothes and other pampering items. However, it must be purchased before the New Year if you’re buying it for yourself. Thus, I think the emails should have been sent another week earlier.
  • Viral Difficulty – I encourage you to go to the landing pages, especially for Estee Lauder. They created a beautiful video with gold calligraphy writing, which ends with the sound fire crackers going off. Clinique’s landing page features a “Lunar New Year Guide to Great Looks and Gifts.” The problem is that you can only get to these pages through the email. I searched “Chinese New Year” and “lunar” on both sites and the search engines came back with no results.

Overall, these emails made me go through an emotional roller coaster in all the right ways. It felt like both emails were created just for me, which is what subscribers generally want. Within seconds it took me back to my childhood years and made me reminisce about my grandparents. Estee Lauder and Clinique recognized me as an ethnic person and the modern woman I’m striving to become without the use of stereotypes. I’m very excited to see what they will come up with for next year.

Watch out for my next blog as I share Estee Lauder and Clinique’s Inbox Insight email results.

Gung Hay Fat Choy! (Happy New Year!)





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