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Published July 28, 2017
Published July 28, 2017

The beauty industry moves quickly and the competition is fierce. Technology and social engagement are influencing trends and purchasing patterns, and shoppers are more empowered and savvier than ever. At the intersection of all that is Sephora—the most respected and innovative specialty beauty retailer.

Sephora understands beauty and retail in a way that’s nothing short of brilliant. They’re constantly looking at what consumers want, what works and what doesn’t, and how technology can delight customers and keep them coming back. As a retailer, Sephora is fascinating, given their complex operating system, internal language, and fiercely competitive shelf space.

Selling at Sephora can mean prestige, worldwide awareness, and a promising future for a brand. Getting in and remaining on the shelf is no easy feat, though.

In speaking with consultants and former and current Sephora merchants, as well as brands who are on Sephora shelves, the resounding advice was: be on trend, have great packaging, and highlight your differentiating positioning, the traction of your brand on social, and on your own e-commerce, and press coverage. To be successful, your product has to look the part and deliver the results it promises.

Sephora, in particular, is known for working closely with brand partners to seize category growth opportunities in the industry. Anything a brand can do to support the experience of a Sephora shopper, especially as it relates to pricing and incentives, adds value to the retailer relationship.

“We work very closely with these brands. That is the model of Sephora.” – Priya Venkatesh, Sephora’s vice president of merchandising for skin care and hair care.

Sephora merchants are also extremely social media savvy. Traction and engagement on social media and with beauty press are non-negotiable, and will make your brand that much more desirable to Sephora. Instagram is the platform Sephora pays most attention to, so make sure your likes and follows measure up.

For example, Estée Lauder saw a huge follower jump after announcing a partnership with model Kendall Jenner on Instagram, the brand’s fastest-growing platform. “We want to be where our consumers are, and our customers and beauty enthusiasts love Instagram because of its visual and easy-to-consume nature.” – Estée Lauder spokesperson. Above all else, your brand has to be compelling for consumers, and your numbers must prove a strong business case. Starting from your pitch all the way to your line reviews, be sure to articulate a strong story that encompasses digital, marketing, and sales. If you do that, then you’ll be well on your way to building a long and prosperous relationship with the world’s most successful beauty retailer.


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