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Dec 07, 2017

Online engagement: Estée Lauder releases shoppable annual report

‘Perhaps because separate internal departments often handle different aspects of issuers’ outward-facing communication, that communication can get distributed with limited efforts to create synergies.’
Cosmetics company uses digital technology to highlight different portfolio brands and e-commerce environments
Sarah Teslik, Joele Frank

The cosmetics company Estée Lauder has launched a shoppable annual report, giving shareholders and analysts insight into new and different e-commerce platforms – and perhaps saving them time on their Christmas shopping.

Visitors to the new digital annual report, which was launched in September this year, can view video profiles of the company management, watch a video that illustrates the average Estée Lauder consumer journey and have the option to buy more than 50 products.

According to Jill Marvin, executive director of global communications, Estée Lauder has adopted a ‘digital-first’ strategy, which informed the decision to embrace new technology and enhance the look and feel of the report. Last year the company uploaded a PDF of its annual report to the corporate website and was keen to develop a more interactive approach.

‘We are driven by our digital-first mind-set and putting the consumer experience at the center of everything we do,’ Marvin tells Corporate Secretary sister publication IR Magazine. ‘These drivers are reflected in this year’s annual report – one that includes digital and interactive content in a way that would appeal to our investors, our consumers, our employees and all stakeholders.

‘An increased focus on digital allowed us to bring our prestige brands to life through engaging videos, [snack-sized] infographics and articles and, most of all, drive readers to our full brand portfolio’s e-commerce sites through shoppable content.’

Visitors are encouraged to click on a product from one of Estée Lauder’s portfolio of brands. Each product takes the user to a different e-commerce store, to show how the brands differ in terms of look, feel and experience.

Lauren Lieberman, managing director of equity research at Barclays Capital, has covered Estée Lauder for more than 15 years. ‘The annual report brings the brands to life,’ she tells IR Magazine. ‘Even though it’s shoppable, it’s about going into that brand’s environment and understanding what makes each brand different.’

Since the report was published in September, it has become one of the top 10 pages on the corporate website and the number one most-visited page on the investor site. The company still prints about 5,000 hard copies of the traditional annual report, which are distributed at investor events.

Estée Lauder plans to explore new ways to use digital technology to enhance its regulatory filings and compliance documents next year. This year, for the first time, the annual report, proxy statement and other filings all share the same cover, for example.

This will require the IR and communications teams to continue to work closely together – being careful to innovate without being detrimental to the core content of the filings investors and analysts care most about.

Sarah Teslik, partner at Joele Frank, says collaboration between different departments internally can lead to new innovations in reporting. ‘Perhaps because separate internal departments often handle different aspects of issuers’ outward-facing communication, that communication can get distributed with limited efforts to create synergies,’ she tells IR Magazine.

‘This can be a missed opportunity, not only because the external world is a seamless web communications-wise, but also because the benefits from turning shareholders into customers and customers into shareholders – both of which are happening – are substantial. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to understand the positive and protective effects of attracting shareholders with multiple reasons to be loyal,’ Teslik adds.

Ben Ashwell

Ben Ashwell

Ben Ashwell is the editor at IR Magazine and Corporate Secretary, covering investor relations, governance, risk and compliance. Prior to this, he was the founder and editor of Executive Talent, the global quarterly magazine from the Association of...