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Sephora Company’s Marketing Strategy in the US Research Paper

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Updated: Dec 9th, 2020

Introduction

The marketing approach of any company is tied to its target audience and it’s current needs. Besides, it is crucial to conduct demographic research on a new market if the company plans to go global. Being a cosmetics brand and retailer, Sephora is winning the American market by giving its customers a modern experience of beauty shopping, which includes extensive use of technology and social networking. Yet, there is a question of whether this approach will be useful on the global market.

Demographics

Sephora targets mainly women as their primary target audience. Most of its products are designed for female customers, which can even be traced on the company’s official website, where items for men are placed in a separate menu link among dozens of options for women. Sephora divides its main audience into four categories based on their age, making it 18-24, 25-34, 35-49, and 50 plus years correspondingly. The first two age groups form a population of Millennials. According to the research, which was conducted a few years ago, this group represents the company’s primary interest as its members tend to buy products both online and in stores (Herich, 2015). However, Sephora does not limit its marketing attention to Millennials and works towards satisfying the needs of all its customer groups.

Although Sephora is not a monopolist on the American beauty market, most women admit that this is the first place they would attend to look for cosmetics, whether it is an actual purchase or just browsing for available products. The reason for such an attitude lies within the number of steps that the company has taken to meet the changing trends in customer behavior. New technologies have given women the opportunity to browse, compare, choose, and buy beauty products even without leaving home. Besides, the power of social networking nowadays is so high that a customer is likely to rely on feedback given by friends on Facebook or a blogger review on YouTube. Nowadays, it is not even necessary to test a popular product by oneself since there are numerous photos and videos of swatches, application methods, compound analysis, and other specifications.

While the generation of 35 plus has a more considerable buying power, Millennials are more likely to buy products online. In fact, they tend to buy both in stores and via the Internet more than any other group. Their love for social media plays a huge role in building the Sephora’s image and advertising. Young women are likely to have accounts on several platforms, where they can share their experience with a significant number of potential buyers. Besides, it is not only social media usage that characterizes this group of customers. Millennials use technology for almost all aspects of their lives, whether it is keeping healthy, tracking personal finances, reading books, or performing day-to-day activities. Various applications not only make a lot of processes easier and more organized but also offer an element of play to a routine action. Girls are already used to the easiness and fun of using technology for different tasks, and they expect the same level of interaction while they search for beauty products. Such an approach is especially valuable in the cosmetics industry due to a significant number of appearance variations that require a personal touch.

Global Expansion

Sephora originated in Paris, France in the 1970s and was acquired by the LVMH corporation in 1997. This step launched the global expansion of the brand. The first countries that welcomed it in 1998 were Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Poland. The first Sephora store in the USA appeared in 1999 (NYC). 2008 and 2010 became the years when the company arrived in South Asia and Latin America correspondingly. The Australian market is now entered as well.

Currently, the official Sephora website offers to choose a store in North America (the USA, Canada, Mexico), Brazil, Europe (Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey), Asia (China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Middle East, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand), Australia, and New Zealand. It may appear quite surprising that the company does not have its stores in some of the most popular markets like the UK, where there is a lot of buying potential. However, it seems that many countries have their own beauty store networks, which offer the same brands, making the competition rather high. For instance, Sephora has left the British market because of the local Boots network, preferred by the locals (however, this is not the only reason).

Advertising Approach and Marketing Plan

Putting together all the abovesaid, several points for the advertising approach can be made. They include designing technological solutions for promotion purposes, influencing buyer behavior through social media, and personalizing the whole marketing message segment. Based on these steps, the marketing campaign should focus on creating a digital environment, which would assist in creating a positive company image, raising brand awareness, and participating in group dynamics.

The official Sephora website is a powerful tool for acquainting customers with new products. New releases, collaborations, and sales can be easily found and compared to the existing ones from the competitors. There is also a section for registered users that allows receiving special offers and personalized news. In fact, the loyalty program of Sephora is one of the critical elements of the company’s marketing strategy that is most valued by the customers. However, the website and the loyalty program can influence mostly existing customers. That is why it is a smart decision to promote Sephora’s cosmetics through social networks. Likes and shares are great for making a large audience know about a product or service. The era of beauty blogging allows cosmetics companies to collaborate with major media influencers and, in turn, reach their viewers. Another element of social networking is creating content by customers themselves, if they find a place, item, or event interesting enough for sharing. Sephora shows its expertise in these matters by offering a range of technological beauty applications, that is so valuable in the Instagram-focused community, which pays a lot of attention to looks (Holson, 2017). The digital solutions must be combined with an opportunity for each customer to find, try, and buy the matching beauty product.

However, the marketing strategy should not be limited to sharing information via Facebook and offering mobile applications that allow to try on the new look. According to the research, mentioned above, the top-ranking element that influences customers the most in their buying process is a well-known brand (Herich, 2015). The financial side is just as important, with 54 percent of women admitting that sales and regular prices affect their decisions on whether to buy a product or not. Sephora should plan its marketing campaign regarding these research results and work towards creating a system of discounts on special occasions and for purchasing several items. Events unique to Sephora stores are powerful enough by themselves, and offering sales at the same time can stimulate a greater increase in purchasing. If there is a brand that needs to raise its sales numbers, Sephora’s marketing department should develop a campaign targeted at increasing its recognition. Moreover, buyers need to be well acquainted with the brand before they shop. Once again, social media, e-mailing, and reviews on the Internet are the technologies that are suitable for promoting a new beauty company or product.

Finally, a few words should be said about the specifics of marketing efforts. Sephora buyers admit that they are willing to discover new beauty products or deals, yet promotion materials should not be overwhelming or look as targeted only on receiving financial profit. In other words, a perfect marketing campaign will draw customers’ attention by offering a unique beauty experience, which could be shared with a community, rather than stressing the idea of purchasing as-is. This point is proved by many women admitting, for example, that in-store cast members often stimulate their decision to buy cosmetics after showing an in-depth brand knowledge or sharing new ways of using beauty products. This fact underlines the priority of customer experience.

Conclusion

While Sephora targets all age groups of women, the generation of Millennials represents the company’s major interest. This audience widely uses technology, which is the key element of the future marketing campaign. Sephora should promote its products through social media, cooperate with the most popular bloggers to raise brand awareness, manage unique events and price deals that are interesting to share on the Internet among friends, and train its cast members to offer an outstanding customer experience. The question of further global expansion is likely to be left open for the nearest future since entering a new market in the situation of high economic instability carries a lot of financial risks, and there should be more research done on local beauty markets.

References

Herich, D. (2015). Global Cosmetic Industry. Web.

Herich, D. (2015). Global Cosmetic Industry. Web.

Holson, L. M. (2017). The New York Times. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Sephora Company's Marketing Strategy in the US." December 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sephora-companys-marketing-strategy-in-the-us/.

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