MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Boutique Internship at Estée Lauder

By Devika Malhotra, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2013-2014, India

A retail internship; staying on our feet for 8 hours, attending to clients from all over the world, speaking their language, studying and SELLING a luxury brand’s products. All these tasks piled into a single week. While it seemed exciting, it seemed a little bit confusing and daunting as well. Everyone in our Luxury MBA class had different anticipations, expectations, hopes and fears. Retail was widely spoken about and we were all motivated to experience it for one week.

Two months ago, I had been told I’d be working at Estée Lauder at two different locations with heavy tourist traffic. Details such as timing, dress code, behavior, and expectations were all duly communicated shortly thereafter.

I had already worked in the sales division at Citibank and worked in retail at a jewelry store in Mumbai. My main objective was to experience the retail front end at busy locations, as well as to compare activities in these diverse segments. The week drew closer and the internship finally began. The store managers were an absolute delight to work for and they allowed me to experience the retail life at Estée Lauder boutiques to the greatest extent. I covered every single aspect of working in the boutique, from learning about the products, to looking after the stock, accounting for newly arrived stock, opening and closing the store, tracking sales per day, and even cleaning the store shelves promptly every few hours. The store manager allowed me to sit for one of the famous Estée Lauder experience treatments so that I could appreciate the brand and its products before I sold them.

This week allowed me to compare and contrast my two very experiences of selling jewelry and selling beauty and cosmetics. I wouldn’t be able to choose between them, but I can certainly say they were vastly different, yet very interesting. While jewelry requires prolonged time and conversation to gain the trust of the customer, cosmetics primarily require brand awareness. Most customers were loyal clients who entered the store with a purpose and bought the product they needed. Products such as fragrances, however, were easier to sell to a new customer with little previous knowledge of the product.

After the week came to an end, everyone in class reported diverse experiences. Some loved it and wished they could have stayed on the floor forever, while others determined they weren’t interested in working in retail. As for me, this experience gave me new insight into retail, particularly in an exuberant, fast-moving store with the opportunity to interact with a number of tourists over a single week. I wouldn’t have liked it any other way and thoroughly enjoyed my one week on the floor. Learning from various sales associates, interacting with multi-national clients, and endorsing a brand to the fullest created an extraordinary experience at Estée Lauder.