Did Kendall Jenner Doom This Estée Lauder Makeup Brand for Failure?

Alexandra Mondalek
Supermodel Kendall Jenner. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Estée Edit, a brand beneath the Estée Lauder beauty conglomerate, has folded and will discontinue production this fall, the company confirmed Wednesday. 

The collection of trend-focused beauty products sold exclusively at Sephora made news when it launched in 2016 because it had a familiar, famous face attached to it: Kendall Jenner. Now, parent company Estée Lauder’s bet on the millennial market has officially failed. Is Kendall Jenner to blame?

It’s a fair question to ask, considering that as of late, many of the big-name endorsements Jenner attaches her name to seem to fail. That includes the now-infamous Pepsi “woke” advertisement, the dumpster Fyre Festival that Jenner and a handful of her other famous influencer friends like Bella Hadid promoted, and the Vogue India cover for which she received major backlash.

Estée Lauder provided the following statement to Yahoo Beauty about the discontinuation of the Edit collection:

ESTÉE LAUDER CREATED THE ESTÉE EDIT COLLECTION FOR SEPHORA TO RECRUIT MILLENNIAL CONSUMERS. SIMULTANEOUS EFFORTS BY THE CORE ESTÉE LAUDER BRAND HAVE RECRUITED MILLENNIALS VIA DIGITAL AND MAKEUP AT AN UNPRECEDENTED RATE. THEREFORE, AFTER A YEAR OF VALUABLE INSIGHTS AND LEARNINGS, WE HAVE DECIDED THAT A SEPARATE BRAND IN NORTH AMERICA DEDICATED TO RECRUITING MILLENNIALS IS NO LONGER NECESSARY. WE ARE COMMITTED TO OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH SEPHORA AND WE ARE WORKING CLOSELY TO STRENGTHEN OUR BUSINESS IN SEPHORA AND DEVELOP EXCITING NEW PROGRAMS. ESTÉE EDIT WILL EXCIT SEPHORA BY THE END OF SEPTEMBER ’17.

Hannah Symons, a beauty industry analyst for market research company Euromonitor, doesn’t think these failures should fall on Jenner’s shoulders, adding that the model shouldn’t be faulted for the recent string of public relations nightmares.

Still, Jenner doesn’t seem to have a niche when it comes to promoting products, Symons says, which could ultimately make her impact less powerful on millennials than brands might have hoped. Symons also thinks Jenner’s sister, Kylie, is the more powerful of the two when it comes to millennial reach.

“Where Kylie Jenner is engaging with fans and promoting the products she endorses, some of which are her own, Kendall has a different relationship with fans, and that doesn’t work so well with millennial brands … [Kylie] is more invested in her brands, and I think that’s what the consumers want these days. What they’ve come to expect is authenticity, not a randomly matched celebrity with a brand. It has to be authentic.”

As for Estée Edit, Symons thinks the line didn’t sustain enough excitement around its products after the initial release, subsequently losing the attention of the millennial shoppers for whom it was intended.

It’s well documented that Estée Lauder sales fell just as Kendall Jenner’s campaign for the company revved up, and it seems Jenner’s face wasn’t enough to convince young buyers that they should turn to Estée Lauder over independent beauty brands like Kylie Cosmetics or Huda Beauty, which dominate on Instagram.

The failed line is, of course, a setback for Estée Lauder, a legacy company (See: Your mother’s favorite brand) that is attempting to turn curious young shoppers into lifelong customers. According to Accenture, American millennials spend roughly $600 billion a year, a figure projected to grow to $1.4 trillion by 2020.

But Estée Lauder isn’t totally locked out of the millennial market. In 2016, it acquired Too-Faced makeup, ultra-popular with the Instagram set, for $1.45 billion.

And people shouldn’t be too worried about Kendall Jenner’s career. She recently announced she’s the newest brand ambassador for Adidas, and if that fails, there’s always her Kendall + Kylie clothing line, where her face will always sell.

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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style + Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.