Sephora Shows Marketers How to “Play” – and Win

sephora 2The cosmetics world has been revolutionized – like everything else – by technology and new retail concepts. Gone are the days when premium cosmetics were only available in glass cases at department stores. Retailers like Sephora and Ulta allow consumers to try things for themselves in store, or receive samples with online orders.

Additionally, subscription services like BirchBox have driven consumer demand to try – and buy – more products, opening the doors to new brands.

I recently signed up for Sephora’s new Play subscription service which was introduced first in Boston and two other markets. As a consumer I love it (I may be a little too excited about my monthly delivery). As a marketer, I applaud the execution of the program.

Here are the keys to the program’s success:

Sephora builds anticipation by sending subscribers an email stating that their Play box will soon be on its way. A link in the email takes subscribers to the website for a sneak preview of the products in that month’s box.

When the order ships, Sephora sends an email stating that the Play box has been sent, creating excitement.

The Play shipment arrives in a custom box (too nice to throw out) with an assortment of products and a booklet with tips on how to use each one. Sephora extends the Play concept with a music play list available to customers online and a Play Pass, a card customers can bring into the store for a tutorial on their products. All of this creates an immersive brand experience with real life, online and in-store touch points.sephora 1

In tandem with the box’s arrival, Sephora sends another email detailing each product – and including links for ordering on the site. This facilitates purchase of Play sample products, something I have already done.

By investing in attention to detail, planning and flawless execution, Sephora has created an engaging program that extends beyond just product sampling into a mechanism that connects with customers.

The Castle Group, Managing Director, Hilary Allard
Written By: Hilary Allard


Outdoors of the Castle Group office