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Our next Marketer to Watch is Jess Burns, the Vice President of Global Consumer Engagement for the Clinique brand at Estee Lauder Companies. In her role, Jess leads the global omnichannel consumer engagement strategy, building innovative communication, content, and channel strategies to connect with consumers, drive brand equity, and amplify Clinique’s position worldwide. Jess is known for her commitment to gender equality, a simplified marketing mindset, community-first brand marketing, and authenticity. This year, she’s focusing on leveraging Clinique’s reputation even further by amping up their creative presence and educating consumers in meaningful ways. Keep reading to see how she’s bringing all these things and more to market.

If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the Marketer To Watch series, fill out the form here.

What gives me energy outside of work

“Early morning, device-free mountain hikes in upstate New York. I like to say, change of altitude, change of attitude.”

Every marketer should read…

Emotion by Design by Gregg Hoffman is a masterclass in brand marketing.”

Future of Marketing

Q: What is one thing coming down the pike for marketing that you are most excited about?

I’m most excited about the return to brand marketing, but one that finally puts the consumer at the center. Brands are starting to become more brand out and community in. My favorite insight from our partners at TikTok is “today’s community comment is tomorrow’s trending search term,” which means consumers control the narrative. Therefore, brands need to find creative ways to write themselves efficiently and authentically in their narrative as a main character, or they will be left out of the story altogether.   

Q: What widely accepted “marketing truth” or concept do you wish the industry would do away with or evolve?  

The traditional approach to media channel strategy will become totally irrelevant. With the right idea, I believe “old channels” can become new again, or less popular channels can garner a disproportionate share of voice. 

Marketing at Clinique

Q: What’s something exciting you’re currently working on?  

This year, Clinique announced efforts to continue its mission to provide dermatologist-guided solutions to create great skin for all. As a brand dedicated to educating consumers on simple routines to achieve great results, my team is working on new content and platform strategies to break through the skincare noise by educating consumers in meaningful ways.  

What’s most exciting (and challenging) about this moment is that beauty is at its peak of power, especially on platforms like TikTok (BeautyTok has +80B views and counting!) TikTok’s What’s Next 2024 Trend Report mentions that the platform has “democratized and leveled up creativity.” This democratization means the standard for brands to develop great content has changed. It’s time for brands to level up their creative courage, and Clinique is poised to lean into this challenge in 2024, leveraging our heritage and product innovation as inspiration.  

Q: What’s the most pressing business challenge you’ve faced within the last year, and how have you tried to solve it?  

Like many beauty brands, capturing Gen Z’s attention and wallet is paramount but difficult. This generation is inundated with skincare and makeup content, so their baseline knowledge is high. So, for Clinique, it is all about being authentic to stand out. The brand was born from a dermatologist’s office to address real consumer dermatological needs, not a passing trend. We focus our marketing efforts on walking the talk – we do not just create content to engage Gen Z but to educate them on achieving great skin. This strategy is visible and appreciated by this generation. Clinique was named one of the fastest-growing brands among Gen Z in 2023 by Morning Consult. 

Career and Leadership Advice

Q: What’s the most game-changing career advice you’ve ever received?

“Learn how to embrace change and turn it into opportunity.” 

Q: What leadership muscle is most important for marketers to exercise?

The ability to simplify. The hardest thing in the world is to make things simple. Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” which could not be more relevant for marketers today. Our main job is to simplify all the inputs we get on a daily basis, performance data, insights, and trends, and translate this into 1) clear, actionable strategies for teams and 2) simple, relevant communication to consumers.   

Marketers to Watch is a recognition series to spotlight highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing leaders in the community. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the series, apply here.