Friday, November 15, 2013

3 Ways to Build an Industry Leading Brand (and how Sephora did it)

by Taylor Renbarger

blogAvoiding eye contact. Pretending like you are on the phone. Looking the other way. Picking up your pace. We’ve all done it. These are the tactics we instinctively use to avoid having those overbearing cosmetic sales consultants drag us back to their counter to give us information about a product we just aren’t interested in. Now don’t get me wrong, I love learning about new products, but I would prefer to do it at my own leisure and with brands to which I feel loyal.

Despite the shortcomings of many beauty retailers, there is one cosmetic company that far exceeds the rest. With its user-centric retail environment, attractive loyalty programs and strategic partnerships, Sephora has justly earned their title as a “Cosmetic Powerhouse.” The following ways are just a few that Sephora has used to create a brand experience that customers are no longer avoiding and running away from but rather embracing.

 

1. Strong Internet/In-Store Presence:

As soon as you walk through the door or click to their site, it's evident that Sephora knows how to cater to its customers. Their success lies in the comprehensive execution of the brand experience. According to Racked, “Sephora is one of the few brands whose retail prowess is equally matched by its digital savvy." Sephora continues to grow because of its unique approach to merchandising. In the store, customers can interact and actually use high-end products at their own leisure without going through the exhausting interactions with sales people. Much like their website, the store layout is also organized and easy to navigate, allowing customers to jump from brand to brand. In addition, makeup tutorials and personalized beauty recommendations are available both in-store and online.

2. Loyalty Program – Done Right:

To augment the buying experience for its top customers, Sephora has created a loyalty program called “Beauty Insider.” "Sephora's clients are avid beauty junkies and we want to reward her beauty addiction with a program that is built around what she loves: product," stated Sarah Choi, Vice President of the Beauty Insider program. Sephora has done its research; they know their clientele and exactly how to lure customers in and keep them coming back for more. The three-tiered Beauty Insider program, consisting of the Beauty Insider, the VIB, and the VIB Rouge, is designed to incentivise purchasing while strengthening the brand loyalty of their customer base. Each level of the program builds off of the next and advancement is acheived when more money is spent. Currently, I hold a VIB status at Sephora and am reaping the benefits! Kudos to Sephora for recognizing my passion and rewarding my loyalty with the something I crave – the newest and latest products.

3. Collaboration with Industry Moguls:

Smaller noteworthy partnerships with top industry influencers like Tarina Trantino and Charlotte Ronson have paved the way for collaboration with even bigger industry leaders like Marc Jacobs. These strategic partnerships are a great way to tap into new markets and new customers. It is evident that Sephora’s brand position is what attracts these partnerships and advances them to the next level. According to Mario Ortelli, senior luxury goods analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, “It’s the only way to really come into the [branded beauty] category strong”.

As Sephora continues to provide their customers with new and innovative ways to experience and embrace their brand, its easy to see why they are not only a leader in their industry, but are becoming true brand ambassadors. They have created not just a company, but an experience that is driving customers to them. According to Racked, Sephora will “outperform Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Celine, Fendi, and Kenzo’s sales combined. So it’s fair to say that when Sephora makes a move, the rest of the industry pays attention”. I did, along with hundreds of thousands of other customers.

 

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