Jeanette Wagner, Who Globalized the Estée Lauder Model, Dies at 92
Jeanette Sarkisian Wagner, each a service provider and a diplomat for Estée Lauder, who popularized the model’s high-end lipsticks and perfumes among the many girls of the Soviet Union and China in the course of the rising globalization and free commerce of the Eighties and ’90s, died on Feb. 26 in Manhattan. She was 92.
The demise was confirmed by her niece, Nicole Vartanian.
Mrs. Wagner was president of Estée Lauder’s worldwide operations from 1986 to 1998, a interval when the division was reworked from a small and comparatively unprofitable arm of the New York-based firm to at least one that accounted for roughly half of its multibillion greenback enterprise.
“We had been companions within the creation of Estée Lauder Worldwide,” Leonard Lauder, the corporate’s chief govt in these years, mentioned in a telephone interview. “We labored collectively hand in glove and we understood one another completely.”
With the Soviet Union’s financial system partly opening below its chief Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Estée Lauder launched its first Russian location roughly per week after the autumn of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, beating out McDonald’s by two months. The Moscow department was steps away from the Kremlin and the Pink Sq..
“We’ve what could be the equal of a Fifth Avenue or Madison Avenue tackle,” Mrs. Wagner advised the commerce journal Administration Evaluate in 1990.
On opening day, the police erected barricades and shut down a subway entrance to accommodate a line of lots of of Soviet girls, a few of them the wives of main figures within the Communist Social gathering. They purchased merchandise like Tuscany, a cologne that price 120 rubles — greater than half the common Soviet employee’s month-to-month wage.
Throughout a single day shortly after opening, the shop rang up 210,000 rubles in gross sales.
Ms. Wagner ensured that each lady who stood in line on opening day had the possibility to purchase one thing. She dissuaded Soviet politicians from taking armloads of merchandise for themselves. She helped strike an advanced possession cope with the Soviet authorities, and he or she helped oversee the coaching of the shop’s Russian employees, for whom personalised customer support was unfamiliar.
“The entire idea of with the ability to advise and provides individuals experience is totally completely different,” Mrs. Wagner advised Administration Evaluate. “They haven’t been in a demand-supply state of affairs.”
She was creating a method for how one can enter a brand new market: set up free-standing shops to manage how the model is launched; nurture private relationships to grasp a brand new market; and overcome boundaries to commerce.
She and Mr. Lauder collaborated on one other essential growth within the early Nineties — to China. Over the course of her profession, Mrs. Wagner launched advertising and marketing campaigns in additional than 100 international locations.
In an surprising reversal, the place the place Mrs. Wagner made one in all her chief worldwide breakthroughs for the corporate is now the location of a significant retreat. Earlier this month, Estée Lauder introduced that it was ceasing all business exercise in Russia, together with closing all shops that it owns and operates, in response to the warfare in Ukraine.
“We had been fortunate within the period we had been in,” Mr. Lauder mentioned, including of Mrs. Wagner, “She was having extra enjoyable that you possibly can ever think about.”
Jeannette Sarkisian was born on July 2, 1929, in Chicago to Souren and Nazely (Norsigian) Sarkisian, refugees from the Armenian genocide. Her household ran two small grocery shops, one in Chicago and the opposite in suburban Evanston.
Jeanette helped out on the shops via her teenage years, and he or she recalled later with pleasure how immaculate they had been saved, with all of the cans rigorously aligned to face in the identical route, and the way her father had instructed her to say no ideas when she made deliveries that had been marketed as freed from cost.
She graduated with a bachelor’s diploma from Northwestern College, the place she studied English, and within the Eighties she went again to highschool, graduating from Harvard Enterprise Faculty’s Superior Administration Program.
Earlier than Estée Lauder, Mrs. Wagner labored in journalism, together with as the primary feminine senior editor of The Saturday Night Publish and because the editor in chief of the Hearst Company’s worldwide magazines.
After stepping down from operating Estée Lauder’s worldwide division in 1998, she served as the corporate’s vice chairwoman and on the boards of many nonprofits, together with the Library of America.
Her husband, Paul Wagner, whom she married in 1965, died in 2015. Along with Ms. Vartanian, she is survived by two stepchildren, Paul and Paula Wagner.
Sally Susman, Estée Lauder’s chief of communications throughout Mrs. Wagner’s time as vice chairwoman, recalled in a telephone interview Mrs. Wagner’s extravagant gestures of respect to overseas enterprise companions.
When a delegation of Chinese language authorities officers, a few of whom Mrs. Wagner knew as acquaintances, visited New York on different enterprise and reached out to her as a courtesy, she despatched to every of their lodge rooms a package deal with a dinner invitation, Estée Lauder merchandise and vacationer suggestions.
“She was the queen of delivered by hand,” Ms. Susman mentioned.