Brand Strategy Example: Sephora

Brand Strategy Example: Sephora

3 Essentials to Success for Popular Cosmetics Retailer

One of my favorite fantasy adventures is located at my local mall (along with being a fantastic brand strategy example).  It is not the sequel to the blockbuster movie Avatar, a Dungeons and Dragons role playing event or even a Lord of the Rings-themed escape room. 

It is the cosmetics and skincare retailer Sephora.  The name “Sephora” itself speaks of extraordinary possibilities; it is the Greek spelling of Zipporah, the beautiful wife of Moses in the Book of Exodus.  Its biblical connections seem appropriate, given the miracles promised by the makeup, perfume, and skincare that they sell.

What impresses me the most about this savvy retailer is its ability to increase its own brand importance while meeting other corporate goals, namely supporting its sister brands of LVMH and advancing societal issues like climate change awareness and minority-owned brands.

1. Brand Strategy Example: Building the Global Presence

Sephora’s growth began in 1993, with the merger of Sephora and a French perfume chain owned by Dominique Mandonnaud.  Sephora differentiated itself by:

  1. offering “test samples” for customers to try the product before purchase
  2. using “assisted self-service” which provided the best of both worlds – unlimited browsing and sampling combined with expert sales assistance if desired 

In 1997, Sephora was sold to the luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH.  LVMH has grown Sephora to over 2,600 stores in 35 countries and expanded their product offering to include beauty and cosmetic products.

Brand Strategy Example: Sephora

2. Brand Strategy Example: Brands Within the Brand

Sephora is part of the Specialty Retailer group at LVMH, where it supports the second and fifth of six pillars in LVMH’s operating model: vertical integration and creating synergies.  Sephora supports other LVMH brands as their point of distribution.  LVHM brands Fenty Beauty by Rhianna, Make Up Forever, and Marc Jacobs Beauty can be found at Sephora. 

Plus, the private label brand, Sephora Collection, covers a wide range of beauty products.  Priced above the drugstore brands like Maybelline but below premium brands like Bare Minerals or Tarte, the Sephora Collection offers a multitude of choices for products and colors.  Moreover, the Sephora Collection supports the overall brand by offering a “luxury illusion” brand that is priced to meet more budget-conscious consumers.  Some will continue to buy only the Sephora Collection but other consumers will graduate to the more expensive brands that dominate the square footage.

Brand Strategy Example: Sephora

3. Brand Strategy Example: Cashing in on the Equity of Others

Sephora is a brand strategy example of a retailer who not only manages its own brand but uses the brand awareness, benefits and equity of the products they sell to support the Sephora brand.  Some brands provide special benefits like clean ingredients (Tower 28, Kosas, Saie) or are vegan (Bite Beauty, Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez).  Other brands support societal issues like Black-owned companies (Shani Darden Skin Care, adwoa beauty, Briogeo) or woman-owned (Benefit Cosmetics). And, many more brands simply add to the luxury brand ethos.

Brand Strategy Example: Success

Sephora is one of the most successful brand management retailers with its focus on using a diverse range of brands to build an overall brand ethos.  Combining its high-end owned brands with private label and other unique benefit brands allows it to build a multi-dimensional brand with wide appeal while staying true to its luxury brand vision.

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