Sephora has long been a retail heaven for beauty lovers and casual shoppers. Founded in 1969, the high-end beauty retailer remains a market leader in the beauty industry. In this article, we’ll take a look at the marketing strategies Sephora uses to delight customers, drive loyalty, and build market share.
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Amidst a retail apocalypse, Sephora is opening more brick and mortar stores. The beauty retailer plans to open 39 stores in the US in 2019. Stores remain an integral part of Sephora’s strategy; 3/4 of customers interact with the brand for the first time in their physical locations. Here’s how Sephora uses its stores to market to today’s consumers.
Omnichannel: Sephora’s omnichannel marketing capabilities is based on their 360-degree customer profiles. Integrating online and offline, Sephora offers in-store customers real-time offers, notifications to pick up items left in their online shopping cart, emails containing details of the products they tried in-store and the ability to check product reviews and ratings using the Sephora app.
Hands-on Experimentation: Focused on providing upscale experiences, Sephora stores are hubs of experimentation. Sephora Beauty TIP stores have over 13,000 products and customers can experiment with makeup in an interactive setup. The brand’s use of experimentation as a differentiation point is bolstered by their in-store technology such as augmented reality, sensory technology, and facial recognition.
Personalized Experiences: Sephora uses personalization to attract and maintain loyal customers. Customers can get personalized consultations from Beauty Advisors, or use a Color IQ system to find the right products. Sephora keeps customers within its ecosystem-website, mobile app, and social media. This gives the brand enough data to deliver tailored experiences and relevant product recommendations.
Launched 12 years ago, Sephora’s Beauty Insider program remains a reference point for companies on how to master a loyalty program. Sephora’s Beauty Insiders program creates a strong bond between brand and consumers, as 80% of members refuse to consider a competitor. Below are three strategies Sephora uses to keep customers hooked on its loyalty program:
Tiers: Beauty Insider is divided into tiers based on yearly spending: Beauty Insiders, VIB, and VIB Rouge. Using gamification techniques, the brand’s loyalty program aims to make customers reach the highest tier- VIB Rouge. VIB Rouge is open only to customers who spend $1000 per year, thus creating a sense of exclusivity.
Relationships: Sephora’s loyalty program is hinged on creating relationships and powered by peer-peer feedback. Through its online Beauty Insider Community, customers receive beauty recommendations, inspiration, and answers to beauty-related questions. The community also gives Sephora insight into what customers want. To create a sense of ownership, members can moderate the community and attend offline in-person events to meet other members.
Rewards: Rewards are based on spending status and tailored to customers’ beauty profile. Catering to its customers’ love for experiences, the beauty brand provides a range of experiential rewards such as one-on-one makeup consultations and meetings with CEOs. In addition to receiving personalized rewards, Beauty Insider members can choose their free birthday gifts and personalize their perks.
With the rise of multicultural customers and evolving global conversations, inclusive marketing isn’t a trend to Sephora. The beauty retailer has been making conscious efforts towards inclusivity. Below are two strategies the beauty brand uses to appeal to its diverse range of customers:
Promoting Diversity: To promote inclusive beauty, Sephora switched their tagline from “The Beauty Authority” to “Let’s Beauty Together.
Acknowledging their diverse audience, Sephora’s campaigns feature models of different ethnicities, skin tones, and ages. Additionally, to build an emotional connection with consumers, Sephora uses real people in its marketing. For its Reach Out and Gift Campaign, Sephora featured employees.
Gender Fluidity: Throwing out gender norms, Sephora’s “Identify as We” Campaign celebrated inclusion by featuring gender-fluid individuals and using gender-neutral pronouns such as, “They, Xe, and We.” Additionally, to support the non-binary and transgender community, Sephora offers free make-up classes as part of its Classes for Confidence program.
To connect with beauty fans and foster 1:1 connection, Sephora has delved into event marketing through SEPHORiA: House of Beauty. First launched in 2018, the paid beauty event attracted 5000 beauty fans and allowed them to learn and play. Here are some marketing strategies Sephora used to make the event successful:
Brand Focused: SEPHORiA was centered around its roster of prestige brands and personalities. Attendees met brand founders, customized products, and attended make-up workshops with top makeup artists.
Event Buzz: Sephora and its brand partners used social media to create some event buzz and drive brand awareness. Sephora sponsored influencers from the beauty community to promote its event on Instagram using #sephoria and brands gave attendees free product samples in exchange for tagged photos on Instagram.
Post Event Engagement: SEPHORiA featured over 40 brand activations and attendees were given RFID tags so that Sephora could track what they interacted with and what they were excited about.
To measure the event’s ROI, the brand looked at email signups, ticket purchase rate, social engagement, and monitored its Beauty Insider community page for feedback about the program.
With over 18 million followers on Instagram and 18 million likes on Facebook, the brand mastered the art of using social media to engage its audience. Let’s take a look at how Sephora uses its social media channels to connect with its audience.
Instagram: Sephora’s Instagram page is filled with inspiring, entertaining and educative content. The brand uses Instagram’s highlights to make content easy to find and engage with and IGTV to share campaigns and tutorials. Sephora also uses influencers to promote its brands on Instagram. Presently, the beauty retailer’s Instagram influencer marketing strategy focuses on building long-term relationships with homegrown influencers and creating an online community.
Facebook: Sephora uses Facebook for event coverage, sharing educational content, news on upcoming events and live Q & A sessions. The brand also has a Facebook messenger bot that consumers can use to book reservations and a shop page to drive traffic to its website.
Sephora also uses instructional and visually appealing ads to drive social media fans to its store.
YouTube: Beloved by 1.2 million subscribers, Sephora uses YouTube to engage followers wherever they are in their beauty journey. Videos are long-form and focused on educative content such as how-to tutorials. The videos also feature experts giving step-by-step guides for creating a certain look using Sephora’s line of products.
This helps customers make informed purchases without an in-store experience, while also boosting sales. Additionally, Sephora includes shopping ads in its videos to encourage viewers to make a purchase.
As consumers continue to explore what’s new in beauty, Sephora remains relevant by offering a wide range of product assortments. The makeup and skincare haven use several strategies to perfect their product selection, including:
Carrying Indie Brands: Sephora gives exposure to indie cosmetics brands and highlights them with a store section dedicated to new brands under its “The Next Big Thing initiative”. Among other things, Sephora partners will indie brands based on their uniqueness and innovation.
Introducing New Product Categories: Striving to keep up with consumers’ need for healthy, non-toxic ingredients, Sephora launched a clean beauty category. The beauty retailer has also expanded into the health and wellness category, offering CBD products and organic supplements.
Exclusive Products: 1/3 of Shepora’s offering is exclusive to the brand. Sephora uses exclusive collaborations to create hype and offers best-in-class product curation. Fenty Beauty, Too Cool For School and Kat Von D are all sold exclusively at Sephora. To create buzz, Sephora sometimes sells some of its exclusive products for a limited period.
With an innovative mindset and a marketing strategy focused on its customers, Sephora remains a leader in the constantly evolving beauty industry. Other marketing strategies Sephora uses that are worth mentioning include voice marketing on Google Home and Nest and leveraging WeChat for social commerce in China. Apply these marketing ideas to your own org and reap the rewards.