Sephora: The Trailblazer of Beauty
Founded in France by Dominique Mandonnaud in 1970, Sephora has expanded to more than 1,400 stores in 31 countries. Since opening its first store in the US in 1998, it has become more than just a makeup store, but a frontrunner in online advertising. Today Sephora is owned by the luxury group Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) and is regarded as a “beauty trailblazer.”
Besides being a successful beauty store, Sephora has truly perfected the art of omnichannel advertising. The company launched its website in 1999 and since then it has been in a constant state of improvement. Sephora.com has become a place where consumers can buy makeup, find advice about skincare and cosmetics, and receive makeup inspiration and tutorials. Although it has every form of social media and millions of followers, the company continues to expand its reach even further. Examples of this include the Beauty Insider loyalty program (2007), the Digital Beauty Bag (2013), the Values Inside Out program (2013), Skincare IQ, and Color IQ/Profile. The Skincare and Color IQ are especially revolutionary because they customize each customer’s needs and wants. The Skincare IQ allows customers to go online and search skincare products based on their skin concern, product type, and brand and seek advice based on their needs. The Color IQ allows customers to take a picture in a store and through analysis software are given options of what shades of makeup they should wear based on their skin tone. The Values Inside Out Program is also an innovative initiative which allows each store to choose a local nonprofit organization to sponsor. During the partnership, the store helps fundraise, increase awareness of events, and encourage volunteering.
Sephora’s most recent news is the launch of the “Beauty Board.” This is a place for consumers to engage with each other by sharing advice, makeup tips, product reviews, etc. The most innovative part of this site is that it connects every form of social media into one place. This is unique to most cosmetic sites because it isn’t a professional makeup artist providing tutorials on performing the impossible smoky eye, it’s everyday consumers. The features of this board include filters based on interests, the ability to like and save pictures, tutorials and inspiration, information on every product used, and the ability to share looks on other social networks. While Sephora has only 300 stores in North America, it has set a high standard for omnichannel retailing and consumers are excited to see what the cosmetic chain will come up with next.