Hong Kong

Creativity & Innovation

At the heart of The Estée Lauder Companies is a passion for creativity and innovation. Every day, we help millions of people express their individual beauty with superior quality products, continuing the bold, breakthrough efforts of our founder, Mrs. Estée Lauder, who believed everyone can be beautiful.

By utilizing the latest technologies and understanding and staying ahead of the trends, we create multiple engines of innovation to fuel our brands — from product development, packaging and sampling, to selling, marketing and merchandising. We define innovation broadly and design experiences to capture the imagination of consumers wherever they are — at home or at retail stores, online, on mobile or on social media. Delivering meaningful benefits to discerning consumers is what drives innovation across the company.

We want to deliver breakthrough products that benefit the consumer and continue to invent the unexpected.

Carl Haney

Executive Vice President, Global Research and Development, Corporate Product Innovation, Package Development

ELC Research & Development employees

Research & Development

As a brand-led innovation company, we create a multiyear pipeline of transformative products across our portfolio of brands. From upstream discovery to downstream R&D execution, we aim to deliver noticeable, meaningful benefits to consumers.
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Research & Development

As a brand-led innovation company, we focus on creating a multiyear pipeline of transformative products. From upstream discovery to downstream R&D execution; from revolutionary ingredients that visibly repair skin to the amazing sensorial aspects or our products — the texture of a serum, the click of a compact, the mist of a fragrance — we concentrate on delivering superior products with noticeable, meaningful benefits to consumers.

The Science in Beauty

Our multidisciplinary expertise includes basic science and advanced technologies; the intersections of physics, chemistry, biology and engineering, combined with state-of-the-art technology. Thus we enable all brands to benefit from the latest scientific breakthroughs, while ensuring the highest safety, quality and performance standards. We have approximately 1,250 employees engaged in research and development activities in the following areas:

  • Analytical Science
  • Package & Device Design
  • Bio-actives
  • Process Development & Scale Up
  • Bio-mechanics
  • Product Formulation
  • Clinical Science
  • Product Safety
  • Fermentation & Bio-Technology
  • Regulatory Science
  • Imaging Technologies
  • Skin Biology & Physiology
  • Material Science
  • Rheology & Stability
ELC scientist with microsoft

A Global Network

With technical laboratories around the world, and creative and trend labs in Korea, California and other locations, we access the scientific and cultural strengths of each region — leveraging novel ideas from thought leaders, universities and innovators. Our multicultural teams bring varied problem-solving approaches to their work. This diversity of thinking is critical in developing locally relevant products and experiences for the most discerning consumers, regardless of age, ethnicity, culture or geography.

Centers of Excellence

By design, the global footprint of our R&D and innovation sites is built on category expertise and key regional presence. Whether it’s makeup formulation in Markham, Canada — the birthplace of M·A·C; biotechnology in Melville, New York; skin care development in Shanghai, China; package innovations in New York City; or creating natural organic products for Aveda in Blaine, Minnesota, we leverage our deep institutional knowledge and expertise throughout the organization.

We are broadening our capabilities through scientific and technology partnering with universities and institutes — which grants us access to areas of science that are developing at logarithmic speeds, such as genomics and the microbiome. Growing these relationships with universities is part of our R&D strategy. Partnering directly with academia and fast-moving research is critically important, because science and technology are accelerating.

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Our Brand Products

Brand Product Development

Our product development skill set is a driving force within each of our brands. Understanding what product, formula or concept will excite the discerning consumer is part art, part science and part intuition.
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Brand Product Development

At The Estée Lauder Companies, our extraordinary brands and superior quality products are at the heart of the Company, and our product development skill set is a driving force within each brand. Understanding what product, formula or concept will excite the discerning consumer is part art, part science and part intuition — a sensibility that we have been developing for decades.

Creative Spirit

Brand Product Development stands on its own. It is not an R&D function; nor is it a marketing function. It is a clear, identifiable role in the organization, a rare occurrence in the beauty industry. Our Brand Product Development leads collaborate with R&D, Packaging and Corporate Innovation, as well as global brand teams, to develop a pipeline of prestige products consumers can’t live without.

This unique structure can be attributed to the company’s respect for the creative spirit and to our founder, Mrs. Estée Lauder, the quintessential product developer. She had an insatiable appetite for invention, for challenging conventions and for creating new things. The Lauder family preserved this tradition and embedded it in the corporate culture. In addition, the founders of many of our acquired brands have been product developers who’ve enhanced this practice with their entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to innovation.

Brand Ethos

Each and every one of our prestige brands has an ethos and a point of view, an identity and a purpose, which defines and differentiates them in the marketplace. The Brand Product Development leads work very closely with a Global Brand President, Creative and Marketing to identify the brand strategy that supports the business. They draw upon their strong personal connections with the brand’s essence — which helps to guarantee the integrity, exclusivity and authenticity of each brand.

Discovery and Invention

Transcending all brands is a focus on creatively driven concepts and ideas. Inspiration can come from anywhere: fashion, pop culture, the natural world – even food or the automotive industry. The product development process greatly benefits from a diversity of minds and disciplines within the company, and from the resources needed to go out and learn and discover.

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ELC packaging photo

Packaging Development

It’s not just how beautiful a product makes someone look and feel. The anatomy of the package and the sensory experiences complete a great product.
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Packaging Development

It’s not just how beautiful a lipstick makes someone look and feel. It’s the pleasure a person takes from holding it in their hand, removing the cover, twisting the base, applying the shimmering color, returning the stick to the core and replacing the cover. It’s the anatomy of the package and the sensory experiences that complete a great lipstick.

World-Class Operations

Packaging in prestige beauty is paramount to the consumer’s total experience. It enhances the delivery of the product and increases its appeal. The Company maintains a world-class development operation that launches thousands of packages a year for its skin care, makeup, fragrance and hair care products. We excel at managing complexity, and our packaging innovation serves as a competitive advantage — combining visual desirability and in-use experience with technical advancements to delight our consumers.

End-to-End Packaging

From design to manufacturing, we are known for our award-winning innovation in packaging, and our ability to deliver differentiated branded products and experiences. We’ve created an end-to-end packaging organization that touches our business: from product development and R&D to suppliers and factories; from marketing and sales to counters and ultimately to our consumer. We work hand in hand with Global Supply Chain to ensure that this end-to-end process operates smoothly and efficiently.

Packaging development is organized by brand and by category (skin care, makeup, fragrance and hair care), allowing for greater up-front collaboration with R&D. We will always be brand-led, and our brands will always have unique offerings. Yet, at the same time, we can leverage innovation across the brands.

Supplier Innovation

We enjoy multi-decade relationships with industry-leading suppliers who have worked with the Lauder family since the Company’s early days. The power of these partnerships and networks allows us to uniquely innovate collaboratively across our industry — from upstream ideas to downstream execution.

As part of a larger enterprise initiative to develop joint value creation with key suppliers, we also work together on a strategic basis — in all different areas of packaging materials. We bring them in at the strategy stage, or we pair them up to bring us back ideas. The exchange of ideas, capabilities, insights and assets allows both of us to achieve what neither party could do on its own.


The design and aesthetic of our packaging must reflect the prestige of our products. To meet the changing needs of consumers, we are committed to delivering products that perform well for them as well as for the environment. We continue to work on gaining a greater understanding of global consumers’ expectations for more sustainable products and related purchase motivations.

In collaboration with our supplier industry groups, we continue to explore and test the use of more sustainable materials such as plant-derived plastics, as well as new packaging formats including refills and post-consumer recycled content. We also aim to design our packaging for more effective materials recovery.

We support and encourage our packaging designers and engineers to create sustainable, elegant solutions and to remain current with emerging industry trends. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuel–derived plastic packaging materials is a meaningful way to reduce our overall impact on climate change.

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Agility, Speed and Excellence

We work seamlessly with the Global Supply Chain to create and deliver end-to-end process and manufacturing innovation with excellence, speed and agility.

We are diverse leaders, scientists, creatives, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs — partnering internally and externally to leverage world-class capabilities in our quest to deliver coveted innovation at start-up speed.

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