SEPHORA Is Showcasing Select Digitally Native and Clean Brands

SEPHORA Brings Digitally Native Brands In-Store

In a move to disrupt itself and bring direct-to-consumer (DTC) beauty products closer to the buyer, Sephora has introduced several in-store merchandising initiatives, showcasing digitally native or otherwise up-and-coming brands.

The first fixtures for Sephora's "The Next Big Thing" — an in-store space set aside for displaying new makeup brands — launched at its Times Square store in June 2019. Among Sephora's promotional initiatives is a "trend wall" which highlights new brands in the skincare space, as well as a wall focusing on hair products which is rolling out to 100 stores.

It's a clever attempt to drive customers lured by popular brands they encounter on the internet into a physical space where they can try them out and purchase samples. For example, Sephora packages Favorites Kits of The Next Big Thing which highlight seven trending brands that Sephora thinks you need to know.

(Image source: Sephora)

The kits feature mini versions of the full-size products at a fraction of the price, enabling curious customers to experiment with brands without breaking the bank.

(Image source: Sephora)

Most of the brands in Sephora's Next Big Thing are either exclusives or in limited distribution. However, Sephora Chief Merchandising Officer Artemis Patrick notes that the company wouldn't refuse to sell a promising brand just because it was being sold elsewhere — so long as the brand has some innovative feature that sets it apart from other products on the market.

Sephora's focus on prestige cosmetics and the scale of its promotional initiatives may differentiate the brand in a direct-to-consumer environment where others are laying emphasis on specific corners of the beauty market such as hair coloring. As Artemis Patrick puts it:

"It's the first time we've had this sort of very dedicated, multi-branded space that is going into all stores. The biggest difference really is the scale, because it's not about just, like, 50 doors here or 100 doors here, it's really in every single store. It allows a destination — and sort of a constant destination for our clients to know."

With newly discovered brands and new lines from established ones, Sephora's Next Big Thing initiatives add an air of freshness to the store, which serves as a testing ground for consumer trends and an avenue for buyers to discover hidden gems.

The Next Big Thing may also establish Sephora as a partner to up-and-coming businesses while acting as an accelerator for their growth. Artemis Patrick says that as larger brick-and-mortar locations like Sephora give new brands access to potential customers, "There are going to be brands that fly off the shelves and grow their assortment, and I would say 'graduate' from that end cap and start selling in a bigger space or in some more linear space. So it's also a great way for us to test new brands."

For inclusion in the Sephora stores, those new brands must also satisfy strict conditions concerning the way they are manufactured.

Showcasing Clean Brands

According to the Environmental Working Group, there are over 80,000 chemicals in various products on the market today. Around 30 of those compounds are banned by regulators in the United States — 11 of them in the beauty sector.

In an effort to preserve customer health and take into account the concerns of environmentally conscious consumers, Sephora and a number of other beauty brands are trying to make clean branding the norm for the products they sell and promote. The trend focuses on finding beauty products made with verifiable organic ingredients and demanding transparency from brands and manufacturers.

(Image source: Sephora)

As a way of letting customers know whether a particular product satisfies its criteria governing the formulation and sourcing of ingredients, Sephora has introduced the Clean at Sephora seal — a label featuring a leaf/checkmark graphic which sits on the right-hand side of every compliant product on the brand's website.

At the rollout of this campaign, Sephora identified a set of 13 potentially harmful ingredients, with more being added as research continues. Only products formulated without any of these chemicals can receive the Clean label. Compliant products should also contain less than 1% of synthetic fragrance. As of the beginning of 2020, Sephora has updated its clean beauty standards to include over 50 ingredients.

In-house, the Sephora Collection skincare range and Sephora's fragrance brand, By Rosie Jane, all meet the clean and transparent ingredients standard. Sephora is also expanding its clean beauty offerings with the addition of new brands and products of unique character or innovation.

According to Artemis Patrick, at the end of the day, "It's all about the story — the story behind the brand, the founder or the founders. That's the number one thing we love: to understand where the brand came from, their unique point of difference and what their innovation is in the product type. All those things are really, really, really critical, regardless of whatever the trend is."

Marketing digitally native, innovative, and clean brands is set to be a hot topic at Future Stores West 2020, taking place in June at The Sheraton, Seattle.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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