Premium cosmetics retailer Sephora was founded in France in 1969, acquired by luxury conglomerate LVMH in 1996, and has evolved into one of the world’s most powerful beauty chains. While women had been accustomed to sampling products at department store beauty counters with the help of brand representatives, Sephora allowed women to test products on their own along the aisles of the store. This alternative model of product discovery has been very popular and has allowed the brand to scale globally. Sephora has invested heavily in its website, which contains educational videos that teach customers how to use different products. The brand also has a popular loyalty program and a monthly subscription box that allows women to discover new products at home. In 2017, Sephora started rolling out small format boutiques that offer a more intimate shopping experience in neighborhoods. These will exist alongside its larger format stores in malls.
In 2018 Sephora stayed ahead of consumers’ increasing adoption of natural and organic beauty, which is estimated to reach $22 billion globally by 2024. The prestige retailer announced its Clean Beauty category, a curated collection of products formulated without sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, and other potentially harmful chemical ingredients. There are more than 50 brand partners and 2,000 products in North America featuring the Clean at Sephora seal.
The initiative includes a dedicated in-store space as well and educational component online where buyers can learn more about “better for you” products.