How Sephora Shares Experiential Retail with Its Customers

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Creating a memorable, teachable and repeatable experience for customers is the focus for Sephora as it aims to look outside of its brand and offer experiential retail for its customers.

Sephora has more than 20 million customers that shop and interact with the brand with thousands of products and 100 brand partners who bring these products to life.

“When we look at our competition or what many retailers do, a disproportionate number of them focus on building out that transactional relationship with the client,” said Calvin McDonald, CEO and President of Sephora at the ShopTalk conference. “How do we connect the customer to the product? More times than not they use discount promotions as a means to trigger that reaction, get the demand and the client to purchase.”

Sephora focuses on building the emotional relationship with the client, looking at how to create demand by growing in prestige and learning more about the client in both their digital and physical store assets.

“How can we build that emotional interaction that is so much more powerful and will drive loyalty long-term?,” said McDonald. “It is really that activation, the community, the eco-system that we’re building between our incredible clients and our exclusive limited and amazing selection of product where we focus on creating unbiased substantial retail through teach, inspire and play.”

McDonald said when you take teach, inspire and play to activate experiences and connect it across the stores and digital assets as well as through the client’s home, you are creating how the customer looks at the business.

Sephora offers beauty classes in store and lets its clients interact with its posts from pro-artists through how-to videos on the mobile phone.

“The connectivity of these classes is reinforcing that community and strengthening the connectivity with the brand,” said McDonald.

There is also the introduction of digital through Sephora’s mobile web with its virtual vloggers.

“We’ve always been a playful environment, it’s one of the disruptive initiatives that Sephora brought to the market, broke the glass camera and really created an unbiased beauty experience,” said McDonald. “As more and more clients were shopping online, we really challenged ourselves in how do we bring that differentiation of play out of the store and onto the phone and our partnership with virtual artist was born.”

McDonald said it is a great example of a digitally driven technology that is delivering experiential strategy in teaching how you inspire a client and make it playable.

Sephora also has a subscription service called Play by Sephora that provides some of the client’s preferred items on a monthly basis. All boxes have beauty samples, a play pass that has content and information, links and augmented reality technology through digital so they can learn, and invitations to the store to meet with makeup artists.

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