Since its birth in 1969, Sephora has sold millions of units in retail stores worldwide and continues to thrive today. With around 1,750 retail stores in 30 countries, Sephora has built an empire where digital marketing is now the central part of its strategy. Just look at the online shop and its easy-to-navigate pages : it is clear, it is beautiful and if an online shopper has any questions, everything he might ask is right at his finger tips thanks to all the information that is available.
For Marketing Today, I’ve decided to study Sephora’s digital strategy to show you what we can learn from this international cosmetics and beauty retailer because no matter what business you’re in.
Real Reality : The Visual Artist App
That’s the future of beauty. The brand has developed this app in partnership with Modiface that can scan your face to allow you to try on different make up looks and get the fastest virtual makeover. The Virtual Artist uses artificial intelligence to detect and estimate the coloration in any photo and match it with a complementary shade for lips, eyes or cheeks through its “Color Match for Virtual Try On” feature and guess what ? You can buy what you try without even without even setting foot in a Sephora store to test swatches on the side of their hand. The app uses facial recognition and you can even watch a tutorial and learn how to use a product. For any product that you choose, the app will tell you the name of the brand, its price, any similar products and all the details that you need before any purchase.
While many other beauty brands have been embracing the potential that AR technologies for quite some time now, having the no. 1 make up retailer in the world finally enter the fray and invest heavily in incorporating these technologies certainly brings the strategy further into the mainstream makeup business – elevating the user experience for customers both in-stores and at home.
According to Sephora’s social media reports, there are more than 500,000 mentions of Sephora products across the social web in any given month of the year. That content would just disappear were it not for the fact that Sephora has an active programme to curate and cultivate all of that conversation into their Beauty Talk community. which is a loyalty member-only mobile and online platform. It’s a first for the prestige retail industry and serves as a destination for beauty-lovers to find inspiration, ask questions and get recommendations. The members can also upload pictures of themselves wearing Sephora makeup that link to the product pages and then become brand ambassadors. To fully engage in this community, clients must be a member of Beauty Insider and there is a great benefit to that, since they will be able to get access to some major promotional offers through active participation.
The Power of social Media
Sephora is on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Youtube, Kik, Wishbone and Snapchat. Each social media tool serves a different goal, which requires a different type of content. Instagram is used for stories and short posts while Youtube is for long-form education content. Facebook and Spanchat are more used for event coverage while Wishbone is used for polls and quizzes. Sephora uses Facebook Messenger for booking makeup appointments. The reservation bot launched in 2016 and, as a result, it has increased by 11% in bookings. Sephora is very active on social media, solving customer services issues but also interacting with the fans of the brands and the new generation of make up lovers. Now, makeup addicts and cosmetics fans have a place where they can discuss the lastest Versace, Estée Lauder or even Alaïa products and even get recommendations.
Sephora Studio is a new retail concept store created to provide a highly-customized shopping experience. The studios are about 2,000 square feet and they’re located outside of malls. They boast eight Beauty Studio seats and four sinks for makeovers and facials and general makeup playtime. People can stop by and meet beauty advisors with the highest level of Sephora training and certification, along with a variety of high-tech digital tools that enhance the client’s experience before, during and after their store visit. This new concept debuted last year in Boston so new studio stores might be opening in the years to come.
All of this has helped Sephora grow and sustain a massive online presence. And that’s perfectly normal since the digital strategy for Sephora is built around a sense of engagement that fuels both commerce and delight by making the technology highly profitable. And we love Sephora for that.