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Sephora already has a sophisticated multichannel retailing strategy in place, leveraging its stores, website, and mobile apps in enviable ways to appeal to customers. This status resulted from the beauty brand’s consistent efforts to ensure that it appears everywhere its customers go, and those efforts have not slowed down in the slightest, as some of Sephora’s latest marketing innovations reveal.

lo-res_168580937-sFor both its website and its mobile app, Sephora was looking for a fun way to engage its shoppers, and it noted the dating app Tinder as an inspiration. Thus it developed a function that allows consumers to “swipe” on a particular product, shade, or style they like, which narrows down their search options and leads to product recommendations. Scanning through more than 1000 photographs of products bearing Sephora’s private-label brand, users can swipe left on a bright pink lipstick shade or swipe right on a sparkling blue eye shadow, then complete the purchases they prefer without ever leaving the site.

The idea initially was simply to use Tinder as an inspiration, but it seemed to work so well that Sephora also expanded the usage and entered advertising for its new “swipe it, shop it” function onto Tinder itself. People looking for love might also run across branded cards for Sephora, which they can swipe to get taken to the site, register, and receive a free sample.

For consumers who are a little leery of Tinder-like options, Sephora has another, old school–inspired option. By filling in the blanks in a simple “beauty uncomplicator” function on the mobile and Internet sites, users receive a Mad Libs–like response that recommends the kinds of products likely to appeal most to them. For example, if a user’s answers to the beauty uncomplicator suggest a strong interest in smoky eyes, the site gathers together suggestions for the right shadows, liners, brushes, and mascaras to make it happen.

The promotions of these new facilities appear not just on Tinder and the mobile sites but also in stores. That’s part of Sephora’s strategy too; it might be fun to play Mad Libs with makeup, but it also wants to ensure that it’s fun to come in to stores and play with the makeup in person. As Sephora expands its private-label offerings and initiates its largest advertising campaign in its history, it is approaching the effort with careful forethought. One senior vice president for the brand explains, “This is an example of not just having a marketing campaign, but thinking about a full client experience.”.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Describe Sephora’s new mobile and multichannel strategy.

 Source: Lauren Johnson, Advertising Age, July 21, 2016