Tips for global expansion from Sephora’s management team

by | Oct 26, 2022

Sephora’s relaunch into the UK has hit the beauty market by storm. Wondering how the team strategised? Here are their top tips for global expansion

On Feelunique’s 17th birthday, it became Sephora UK – a transition that pricked the whole beauty industry’s ears up.

To celebrate, thousands of Sephora fans flocked to its pop-up space in London last week to get a taste of what’s to come as the brand expands into the UK market.

@britishbeautycouncil @sephora event. #expressallofyou #tarte #patrickstar #makeupbymario #sephora #sephorauk #exclusive #fyp ##plasticboy #makeup #beauty #roseinc #gucci #jvn ♬ original sound – LoMalo

In an exclusive preview, the British Beauty Council learnt how one of the world’s most successful cosmetics businesses ensured successful global expansion.

The brand’s UK, Europe and Middle East team members gathered to share their best advice, we have whittled it down to the four most important pieces of wisdom:

Master your omnichannel experience:

‘We believe Sephora can be the best of both worlds. We combine the best physical presence in store with e-commerce which drives unmatched reach and customer engagement,’ explains Sylvie Moreau, President of Sephora Europe and the Middle East. She continues, saying: ‘We are dedicated to translating the magic of bricks and mortar retail to online, including the personal relationship and excitement of discovery.’

Although the UK consumer hasn’t been able to experience the re-vamped Sephora on home turf, beauty lovers will be familiar with the synergy between Sephora’s IRL and digital spaces. Most of this comes from the curated and clever merchandising that is visually cohesive across the two arenas.

Harness digital transformation:

A truly omnichannel experience is reinforced by the seamless addition of digital technology into stores and wider marketing. Thus far, Sephora UK has captured consumer’s attention with JCDecaux’s dynamic out of home advertising and Ocean Outdoor’s Piccadilly Lights.

The same digital-first approach will be employed in the brand’s UK store, which is set to open in Spring 2023. ‘Digital innovation is what makes Sephora a great playground of many functions,’ Moreau continues, referencing the brand’s current digital offerings.

These include Pocket Contour, a mobile-app feature that provided contouring tutorials based on the user’s face shape, and device-based positioning in stores which pushes out notifications to users as they walk past selling opportunities.

Stay true to your founding mission:

‘This inspired our past, pushes us today, and is the lighthouse for us in the future. It is to double down on what has been true at the founding of Sephora in 1969,’ starts Moreau, saying: ‘These are our four super powers – curation, celebration, community and culture.’

On curation, Artemis Patrick, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Merchandising Officer, says: ‘The brands that you know and love today, they were the indie brands back then and they partnered with us, indie is at the heart of what we do – it’s how we live as merchants every single day.’ Highlighting the now-renowned brands like Tarte and Too Faced as some of Sephora’s early wins.

Understand your new consumer:

It would be tricky to launch into a new market without having a crystal clear understanding of who your new consumer is. Luckily, Sephora was able to garner this data from Feelunique’s nearly-two decade experience with the UK consumer.

‘What we (Sephora and Feelunique) have been doing over the last year is working really hard to bring together all of the digital insights that we have around how consumers shop online,’ explains Sarah Miles, CEO of Feelunique. ‘We found that the UK beauty consumer is quite consistent with other markets, however, they tend to be more polarised than lots of other cohorts. This is an expression of how individuality is so important in Britain.’

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