Marketing Information Systems and Ethics Case Study

Marketing Plan

Marketing management

“Beautiful!” — Scented makeup by Estee Lauder

Scented makeup is not a new concept. Many little girls love wearing scented lipstick and gloss in the flavors of bubblegum and peanut butter and jelly. However, enjoying scented lipstick is often a delight female consumers forgo when they become adults, other than a guilty sniff of their daughter’s Tinkerbell or Bonne Bell makeup drawer. This new product would enable adult consumers to have that same pleasure, only with high-quality Estee Lauder makeup. This product will also address an increased desire consumers have for ‘customized’ beauty products filled with a sense of youth and vigor (5 spring makeup color trends, 2011, Refinery 29). As well as makeup that suits the user’s skin tone, the selected scent of the makeup will also speak volumes about the wearer.

Although the economy still remains on shaky ground, demand for luxury products like Estee Lauder makeup has been thriving. Customers who traditionally shop in the luxury market are not dependent upon paychecks as their primary source of income, and the stock market has shown greater signs of a sustained recovery than employment figures. According to the New York Times, high-end businesses, particularly in the fashion industry, have even been able to increase their prices. As one former Saks executive said, no one notices if a designer product goes up from $800 to $860 (Clifford 2010).

This product will be marketed to such high-end consumers, a strategy that has been working for Estee Lauder throughout the recession. In 2008, when the rest of the economy was floundering, the cosmetic company expanded its points of distribution to over 25,000 venues and entered roughly five new markets, for a total of over 140. Its number of single-brand free standing stores increased by 14% as well (No recession for Estee Lauder, 2008, Business Insider.)



The new makeup line ‘Beautiful’ would feature a variety of shades of foundation, lipstick, and eye makeup and eye liners that smelled like the most popular Estee Lauder perfumes (Marketing mix, 2011, 12 Manage).


The price of the product would be within the usual range of Estee Lauder products, although priced slightly higher to accommodate the price of perfume ingredients in the makeup. Additionally, a slightly higher price point would be necessary to convey the fact that this was not a ‘cheap’ drugstore scented perfume, like a child’s scent, but a luxurious product that a sophisticated Estee Lauder consumer would want to buy.


Promoting new products with ‘free gift bags’ is a common practice in the makeup industry. However, this would not necessarily be a strategy that a typical high-end consumer would respond to, given how common it is for a variety of makeup brands. Instead, offering a custom free ‘consultation,’ blending an analysis of the right color shades and scents for the customer would be offered with all Beautiful! starter kits. Promotional strategies would encompass traditional venues, such as women’s magazines, along with new media such as Internet sales at strategically-located websites that tend to be populated by higher-end consumers. Using mailing lists of customers that enjoy customized shopping experiences at department stores or who are on Estee Lauder’s lists of frequent purchasers (based upon their patronization of stores where information from the customer at points of sale) would also be effective.

Place (Distribution)

Customized shades would be offered at free-standing stores, in department stores, and also online. Online venues would give information about the new product to users in print; brick-and-mortar venues would use salesperson. At present, department stores such as Macy’s are being trafficked less frequently, while Estee Lauder’s sales in free-standing stores are expanding. This suggests an emphasis on promoting the product through venues exclusive to the makeup brand — online and in Estee Lauder specialty stores.

However, makeup purchased online would not be able to offer a free personalized consultation to users. This means that a more traditional ‘free gift bag’ of additional products may have to be used as an incentive to encourage online shoppers to buy the product.


Although the luxury market as a whole is thriving within the U.S., Estee Lauder must still continue to differentiate itself from its competitors (Textbook 20). Customized makeup would give luxury customers a unique, added sensory pleasure to enjoy while purchasing makeup. This would give Estee Lauder a competitive edge over other brands, such as Chanel, within the luxury makeup market. Scented body washes and body products are now common to all makeup lines. Consumers like the more subtle scents for everyday wear. For customers who may deny themselves the pleasures of indulgent foods, aromatic scents are often a replacement, given the vibrancy of vanilla, chocolate, and other intoxicating odors. The Beautiful! Line would provide all of these pleasures — and more — to the customer, offering customization, scent, and a unique yet elegant product.

Marketing Information Systems and Ethics

Whenever a consumer enters into a relationship with a corporation, he or she is making a leap of faith that the company will not use his or her information in a compromising fashion. However, marketers are hungry for data that will enable them to better target their promotional and sales campaigns to consumers. “At a broad level, markets may be segmented on the basis of products, product lines, geographic districts, and distribution channels. Segmentation is also possible on the basis of demographic, socioeconomic and psychographic factors (the latter based on lifestyle, attitude, and personality), customer benefit, usage, loyalty, and occasion (of use)” (Boyce 2002, p.110). The increased diversity of the population has acted as an additional incentive to collect data that might be useful in segmenting advertising campaigns. Consumers tend to aggregate in niche sections of the media, such as online or watching specific cable television shows, in contrast to the more general television and magazine audiences of previous eras. The types of market segments created for sales campaigns must be large enough so that a campaign can interest and reach a core consumer demographic, yet be specific enough to pique a likely purchaser’s interest.

For convenience, consumers trust that corporations will not misuse their data when they give their credit card information, address, and phone number when making a purchase online. In other instances. consumers may have no choice but to leave a ‘corporate data trail’ of sensitive information. A drugstore may have a record of what types of medications the individual has purchased and possible health conditions he or she may struggle with; a bank knows the consumer’s history of late mortgage payments. Often, through clever promotions such as asking consumers to fill out surveys in exchange for coupons or entering a contest, a company can glean further information about the consumer’s hobbies and habits. Electronic banks have sensitive financial information about the consumer, including social security and tax information. Political causes to which the individual donates online also can shape the demographic profile of the consumer. In shaping a marketing campaign, “data from a variety of other public and private sources can also be utilized. For instance, lifestyle surveys, focus groups, customer surveys, market research, and geographical socioeconomic data included in published official government census statistics can be used to categorize people” (Boyce 2002, p.109). But the new types of data kept by corporations are highly individualized, and contain information beyond the surface demographic to which the consumer belongs: the information is so personal it can be easily used to commit credit card or insurance fraud, and besmirch a customer’s name.

While increased access to such data might be a boon to sellers it is hardly likely to be as beneficial for consumers. Sellers might weakly protest that knowing more about the consumer enables them to offer special promotions of interest to their core contingent of loyal purchasers. However, most consumers do not want to be barraged by advertising, and their information, once it leaves their possession, can easily fall into unscrupulous hands, the more it is passed around. Selling databases of consumer information is far from unheard-of. A consumer who obtained a discount on a bag of pet food with a ‘rewards card’ may find him or herself subject to appeals from money from the Humane Society (an irritation); while someone who purchases antidepressant medication through his or her health insurance plan might suffer repercussions in getting a job if the information is discovered by a future employer.

“The participation of citizens in the ordinary processes of daily life such as shopping, banking, travel, healthcare, and education all result in a data trail about the activities, preferences, and even thoughts of individuals — data collection is embedded in mundane organizational and social processes. Since it is increasingly essential for citizens to use the information technologies to bank, shop, or work, people tend to resign themselves to the loss of privacy” (Boyce 2002, p.115). However, a firm that establishes a reputation for not using consumer data in a questionable fashion, such as selling information to other companies could gain a market advantage. Consumers are growing increasingly worried about identity theft and their lack of control over personal data (Farrell 2010).


Boyce, Gordon. (2002, June). Beyond privacy: The ethics of consumer information systems

Informing Science. Retrieved March 26, 2010 at

Ferrell, Linda. Marketing ethics. Cengage Learning. Retrieved March 26, 2010 at

5 spring makeup color trends. (2011).Refinery 29. Retrieved November 1, 2011 at

Clifford, Stephanie. (2011). Even marked up, sales of luxury goods fly off the shelves.

The New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2011 at

Estee Lauder. (2011). Official Website. Retrieved November 1, 2011 at

Marketing mix. (2011). 12 manage. Retrieved November 1, 2011 at

No recession for Estee Lauder. (2008). Business Insider. Retrieved November 1, 2011 at

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