What Are the Sephora Shopper's Influencers?

Contact Author Denise Herich, The Benchmarking Company
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  • The brands that are most successful selling at Sephora are those that know the customer best.
  • Price/sales; product reviews in-store, on mobile or online; and knowledgeable cast members drive sales at Sephora.
  • The product reviews and prices the Sephora shopper checks occur more and more on her mobile either in-store or prior to her arrival.
  • Savvy Sephora shoppers look to Sephora cast members for an introduction to and education on brands and products.
  • One in four women noted that a cast member’s knowledge about beauty or their recommendation is instrumental in swaying her toward purchase.
  • Millennials and their friends make Sephora shopping a social occasion, meaning group dynamics should be leveraged.

The brands that are most successful selling at Sephora are those that know the customer best. In Part 1 of this series, which offers highlights from The Benchmarking Company’s (TBC) newly published annual “2015 PinkReport: The Sephora Shopper,” the consumer’s buying practices, habits and a handful of her purchase influencers were reported.

Previously: What is the Sephora Shopper Seeking?

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This article delves deeper into the consumer mindset to uncover purchase influencers that are important to her in-store and before she arrives, what most influences her to buy, how her friends influence her buying decisions, the top brands she buys most often per category and the all-important relationship she has with the Sephora cast member.

Further reading: 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Pitching to Sephora

Consumer Claims, Product Reviews, Powerful Purchase Triggers

What influences women to buy the most when shopping in the store? We know that the quality of the brands are what brings her to the store, but price/sales (54%); product reviews that she’s either reading in-store, on her mobile or online (48%); and the knowledgeable cast member (35%/34%) push her and her wallet over the edge (F-1). But don’t try to oversell her, she doesn’t like it. Purchase triggers ranking at the bottom of her list include mobile advertising (6%), the product’s location in the store (5%) and special lighting (4%).

F-1. Purchase influencers (top to bottom) for Sephora shoppers

Technology Aids in Influencing Her Decisions

The product reviews and prices the Sephora shopper checks occur more and more on her mobile either in-store or prior to her arrival. Millennials are the driving force behind mobile technology adoption and use.

She’s checking prices from different retailers on her mobile (25%), searching for coupons while in the store (30%), scanning items off the shelf (18%), and even taking selfies in the store after she’s tried on some new makeup (18%) and then sending the photo from her mobile to friends or Facebook. Twenty-nine percent of young millennials have used a mobile device to search for consumer claims on a product sold at Sephora, compared to just 8% of baby boomer customers (F-2).

F-2. Mobile use patterns by generation

The Cast Member as Influencer

One of Sephora’s most distinctive competitive assets is its well-trained, knowledgeable sales force. Savvy Sephora shoppers look to Sephora cast members for an introduction to and education on brands and products that are perfect for them. These cast members play an instrumental role in creating the Sephora experience and guiding consumers’ purchases. Some highlights:

  • Women surveyed say (35%) that a cast member’s knowledge of the brand and product is influential in their purchasing decision
  • Thirty-one percent of women surveyed stated they had been swayed by a Sephora cast member to buy a product that was not on her radar
  • Forty percent stated they spent more than 20 minutes with a Sephora cast member learning about specific products

Equally critical is the cast member showing the shopper how to use a product and clearly articulating the product’s benefits. One in four women noted that a cast member’s knowledge about beauty or their recommendation is instrumental in swaying her toward purchase.

Thirty-three percent noted they learned a specific technique, i.e. contouring, eyelash application and makeup application, from a Sephora cast member.

It’s not just about knowledge, it is also about accessibility. Learning a new beauty technique in store is important to 67% of women.

Eighty-eight percent of women feel it is important to somewhat important that a cast member be available to help them, while 71% percent of women state the attention and quality of attention they get from Sephora cast members is somewhat important to important.

The Girlfriend-to-Girlfriend Factor

Capitalize on group dynamics! Millennials and their friends make Sephora shopping a social occasion, with 28% of this age segment shopping there with friends, compared to 20% of gen-Xers and 17% of boomers.

The G2G—girlfriend-to-girlfriend—factor holds strong sway when it comes to trying samples, submitting to a makeover and buying new products that singletons entering the store might not buy. That said, 56% of all women surveyed tend to shop at Sephora alone, 23% with friends, and 12% with their spouse or significant other, while only 9% of Sephora shoppers are brave enough to have their kids tag along.

What’s She’s Buying

Strong consumer claims, reviews, friendly opinions and cast members influence her buying decision: here’s what she’s buying.

Top 10 Makeup Brands She Buys at Sephora (all age groups combined)

1. 46% bareMinerals

2. 45% Urban Decay

3. 42% Sephora Collection

4. 39% Benefit Cosmetics

5. 36% Smashbox

6. 32% Tarte

7. 31% Too Faced

8. 27% NARS

9. 27% Clinique

10. 24% Stila/Sephora Favorites/Bobbi Brown

Top 10 Facial Skincare Brands She Buys at Sephora (all age groups combined)

1. 39% bareMinerals

2. 36% Sephora Collection

3. 33% Benefit Cosmetics

4. 32% Urban Decay/Clinique

5. 28% philosophy

6. 27% Smashbox

7. 21% Too Faced

8. 21% Tarte/Sephora Favorites

9. 20% Bobbi Brown

10. 18% Lancome

Top Hair Care Brands She Buys at Sephora (all age groups combined)

1. 20% Bumble and Bumble

2. 17% Sephora Collection

3. 16% philosophy

4. 15% WEN by Chaz Dean

5. 10% Sephora Favorites

6. 10% Carol’s Daughter

7. 8% Alterna

8. 6% Oscar Blandi/Ojon/L’Occitane

Top Bath & Body Brands She Buys at Sephora (all age groups combined)

1. 27% philosophy

2. 19% Sephora Collection

3. 15% Clinique

4. 12% Sephora Favorites

5. 11% Bliss

6. 10% bareMinerals

7. 9% Soap & Glory/L’Occitane

8. 8% Pink Sugar/Benefit Cosmetics

About the Methodology

2015 PinkReport: The Sephora Shopper provides a detailed look at the U.S. female Sephora consumer, with extensive quantitative primary research. Thousands of U.S. women were invited to take part in these studies, with the first survey completed by 3,133 female beauty consumers who shop for beauty products either at Sephora stores, Sephora.com or elsewhere. A secondary quantitative survey was created to validate data from the first study and to probe more deeply into attitudes and behaviors by these shoppers and was completed by 1,773 U.S. female beauty buyers. The 2015 TBC PinkReport is an independent analysis of the Sephora shopper and was not commissioned or requested by the company. All analyses and investigations are independent and unbiased. Unless otherwise noted, all statistics in this report are based upon a sample size of women noted above who indicated they shop at Sephora or Sephora.com.

Denise Herich is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner at The Benchmarking Company, a bi-coastal consumer research firm borne from The Beauty Company. The Benchmarking Company provides marketing and strategy professionals in the beauty and personal care industries with forward-thinking, need-to-know information about its customers and prospects through consumer research studies, focus groups, annual PinkReports research, and beauty product testing for consumer claims; denise@benchmarkingcompany.com.

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