Can a retailer truly be experiential? This is the question Calvin McDonald, president and CEO, Sephora Americas posed during his keynote presentation at Shoptalk in Las Vegas. Sephora has become the retailer of choice for beauty enthusiasts for their experiential, brand-agnostic, open-sell environment.
“We connect clients with product, but we want it to be more than just transactional relationships,” McDonald said. “We want to create demand through emotional relationships that will drive long-term loyalty.”
By removing the “branded” counter experience, Sephora reinforces exploration and discovery. Why are they succeeding when department stores are struggling? It’s simple: going into a Sephora is fun.
McDonald shared Sephora’s three steps to creating a brand-agnostic experiential retail environment:
- Teach: Sephora has begun offering beauty classes in its stores. The classes are anchored in the store, but the interaction continues outside the store, online and via mobile.
- Inspire: Sephora uses AR tools like Virtual Artist to allow consumers to play with product and tutorial videos to inspire new looks. These digital applications mimic behavior in store.
- Play: Sephora launched Play! by Sephora, a subscription box curated by the merchant team, and the activation around it connects the home to the store.
“Can a retailer truly be experiential?” McDonald again asked the audience at the end of his presentation. “At Sephora, we believe we can. We need to think beyond the transactional relationship and build emotional relationships through teach, inspire, play. Create a community of beauty enthusiasts.”
Read the full keynote recap on Total Retail.