How Sephora Became The Go-To Make-Up Haven

Andrea Lee
Andrea Lee
March 9, 2016
2 min read
How Sephora Became The Go-To Make-Up Haven

In this article

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and you want to achieve the perfect makeup look for your date.

Ask any of your make-up obsessed friends for advice and I’m pretty sure they will willingly drag you to the nearest Sephora.

Sephora operates 1,900 stores in 29 countries worldwide and has been rapidly expanding in the last couple of years. In 2013, Sephora generated $4 billion in revenue. By 2018, Sephora sales is expected to surpass that of the LVMH conglomerate’s Fashion and Leather Good’s division.

Sephora is highly regarded amongst beauty enthusiasts who regularly head to Sephora as their choice beauty emporium.

How did Sephora achieve such staggering growth and success?

1. Sephora allowed customers to play a role in shaping their own shopping experience

sephora storefront

One great thing about Sephora’s store layout (other than the beautifully organised makeup) is the fact that every beauty product on offer has a sample available for customers to test out. There are also shop assistants on hand who offer you their help the minute you step into a store.

The Sephora experience beats the bland drugstore experience where oftentimes make-up samples aren’t provided, and no one is on hand to deliver assistance where needed. Yet it also avoids being as stifling as shopping in luxury department stores, where there is often a heavy pressure to not leave the counter empty-handed.

Instead, it allows the experience to be entirely interactive - customers are allowed to feel the different makeup textures and swatch the products on their own skin.

They can take their own time to look through the product and have ownership over their shopping experience.

Word-of-mouth tip: Understand what is lacking in the shopping experience from the customers’ point-of-view. Strive to provide customers with a comfortable and enjoyable shopping experience, one that makes up for what the industry is lacking.

2. Sephora’s Beauty Insider rewards program personally engages the customer, keeping them coming back for more

sephora beauty insider

Every Sephora customer can sign up for free as for Sephora's loyalty rewards program.

This basic membership status gives you the 'Insider' scoop to the latest seasonal promotions, product rewards and entitles you to a birthday gift during your birthday month.

When signing up, the customer is also requested to enter some information regarding their skin tone and complexion, and other beauty preferences. Sephora then analyses this data to recommend specific products to customers, giving that personalised touch.

The memberships are also broken up into tiers.

If customers spend $350 in a year, they get an upgrade to the 'Very Important Beauty Insider' status, which entitles them to VIB-only gifts and exclusive access to sales.

If they spend more than $1000 in a calendar year, they get promoted to the VIB Rouge membership status, an exclusive status that provides exclusive and unlimited access to the Sephora Beauty Studio and Rouge Events.

sephora beauty studio makeover

Not only are these rewards exclusive, they allow Sephora to personally interact and connect with their customers, creating brand loyalty.

Word-of-mouth tip: Personalisation is key. Personalisation makes the customer feel valued and appreciated. When customers feel that they are being marketed a specific product that has been designed to suit their specific needs, they will be more compelled to purchase it.

3. Strategic use of social media influencers (such as on YouTube)

Sephora understands that its target demographic are young millennials who are incredibly tech-savvy, not specifically loyal to any one brand, and constantly on the lookout for the next beauty item that's all the rage.

Sephora has done well in identifying key social media influencers who appeal to this specific demographic.

An example would be their partnership with rising Youtube influencer SoothingSista. With more than 265,000 subscribers on Youtube, she helped spread the Sephora name by creating a unique Blue Smokey Eye Tutorial using Sephora products.

The use of hashtags #TrendingAtSephora helps to generate even more hype, where viewers are encouraged to recreate their own looks using the hashtag. There are over 15,000 posts on the hashtag over at Instagram right now!

Word-of-mouth tip: Influencers are a brand’s most powerful way of extending their reach. By partnering with key industry influencers, a brand can increase its engagement with target consumers multi-fold.

4. Interaction with fans via social media (reposting influencers on Instagram)

sephora instagram fan feature jcharlesbeauty

Fans love it when their carefully curated make-up and beauty looks are well-received by the beauty community and Sephora understands this. Several times a week, Sephora reposts make-up or beauty looks created by fans and friends of Sephora on Instagram.

The number of likes generated by a Sephora-reposted Instagram picture is about ten times as many than that of the original.

Clamouring for the chance to be featured on Sephora’s Instagram page, beauty junkies constantly #Sephora and the make-up brands that they use, generating even more hype for the beauty empire.

Word-of-mouth tip: This process of constantly reaching out to the consumer builds up strong customer rapport, and keeps customer satisfaction levels high.

5. Riding on the waves of the Youtube beauty tutorial obsession

Sephora’s Youtube channel has close to 500,000 subscribers, comparable to some of the top beauty YouTube artists.

New beauty videos featuring the latest releases of make-up products are launched everyday, introducing that new Urban Decay eyeshadow palette or teaching you how to get that Romantic Valentine’s Day look.

Sephora also creates fun and fresh make-up videos, with make-up artists giving insightful tips and tricks like how to achieve that perfect winged liner. And the best part? All of these products mentioned can be purchased online or at your nearest Sephora store.

Many beauty and lifestyle Youtube artists also regularly produce videos featuring their “Sephora Make-up Haul” or “Beauty Monthly Favourites”.

They also attach links to the make-up products they used in the description box below the video, linking directly to the Sephora web store providing Sephora with free publicity!

Word-of-mouth tip: Over the years, Youtube has become the go-to place to find product reviews and beauty how-tos. In an industry where product launches are frequent and variety immense, Youtube becomes the perfect channel to engage the audience, showing them their next must-have.

Recap: How did Sephora revolutionise the make-up industry and achieve such success?

  1. By providing samples and store assistants at hand, they allowed customers to actually experience the products they're buying and control their own shopping experience
  2. The Beauty Insiders program rewards loyal customers and provides personalised service
  3. A good use of social media influencers gives Sephora products huge publicity
  4. Featuring fans not only allows Sephora to directly connect to fans, these fans also become ambassadors for the brand
  5. By using YouTube to connect to their fans, they get free publicity when other YouTubers share about their products as well.

Hey, what's up?! Wanna read more Instagram success stories?

Sure, right?

Well, check out our 11 Instagram Marketing Examples here!

Andrea Lee
Andrea Lee

Andrea is an undergraduate majoring in international relations and East Asian politics. She enjoys a good run in the city.

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