Sephora is one of the most prominent companies in the beauty industry. Just like other market players that focus on creating a positive brand image, Sephora designs and implements a range of efforts that help explain the positive outcomes of purchasing from the brand to the target customers. This paper argues that the company is associated with social, self-expression, and emotional benefits and can improve its touchpoints with the help of education and representation to reach the generations preceding the Millennials.
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Sephora and Three Types of Benefits
The benefits for the customer that the company stresses in its marketing and advertising efforts can be of three types. In the tenth chapter of their book, Aaker and Moorman (2017) describe the first type, emotional benefits, as the emergence of positive emotions associated with purchasing products from particular brands. In the beauty industry that is highly competitive, emotional connections, for instance, the sense of satisfaction with the purchase and the service, heavily affect customer loyalty (Leung, Wu, Ip, & Ho, 2019).
To make the target customer feel happy, interested, and satisfied when buying something, Sephora offers the newest products in the beauty market, thus being ahead of its business rivals. Apart from product selection, measures associated with positive emotions include the use of innovative technology to minimize dissatisfaction and unrealistic expectations. The company achieves this goal by offering a variety of online and offline opportunities to test out goods prior to buying anything. Due to in-store makeup testers and online applications, such as Sephora Visual artist, shopping experiences at Sephora are associated with excitement and satisfaction.
Specialists at Sephora also attempt at connecting the brand to self-expressive benefits by offering unlimited opportunities for experiments with appearance. This type of customer benefit refers to the attributes that people believe to have when buying or using some products (Aaker & Moorman, 2017). Self-expressive brands present “a means by which an individual can express him- or herself,” and Sephora helps the target customers to demonstrate their uniqueness and perceptions of beauty (Lee & Workman, 2015, p. 14).
Based on the case, the company provides its customers with an opportunity to test out various products available in different shades and finishes. With this freedom of choice, any client can select the product that enhances her beauty most of all. Therefore, customers can show that they are beautiful in their unique way when shopping at Sephora. Also, it should be considered that the company offers skincare products, makeup, and fragrances in different price segments (Sephora, n.d.). With that in mind, for some people, the use of expensive products purchased at Sephora can be a demonstration of their social status and personal success.
Some innovations for the company’s clients are also aimed at connecting the brand to social benefits. According to Aaker and Moorman (2017), such benefits refer to a sense of belonging to particular groups when purchasing or using some brand’s products. Opportunities to communicate with experts in some fields online are a common example of these benefits (Lee & Workman, 2015). Sephora manages to appeal to social benefits by introducing the Beauty Talk forum that connects customers and beauty experts and encourages the exchange of experience.
Sephora and Non-Millennials
As the case demonstrates, the accessibility of products at Sephora shops appeals to the generation of Millennials. To improve the brand’s touchpoints and reach other generational cohorts, the company should research the basic values and characteristics of people in other generations. For instance, according to modern researchers, people born from 1965 to 1980, known as Generation X, are listed among “the most highly educated,” skeptical, and pragmatic cohorts (Lissitsa & Kol, 2016, p. 304).
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Thus, it can be supposed that consumers in this age group value the rational component of marketing and need to understand the product’s functions and the way it works prior to making purchasing decisions. Therefore, to reach this generation, Sephora can implement new consumer education efforts. For instance, blogs, videos, and popular science articles can be used to explain the way different skincare products work, the physical qualities of cosmetics ingredients, and similar topics.
Speaking about older generations, including Baby Boomers (people born from 1946 to 1964), they can also be regarded as valuable customers. According to modern research, compared to Millennials, Baby Boomers are less loyal to particular brands and prioritize the product’s functional value over the social image (Ordun, 2015).
Assuming that Baby Boomers are not likely to make impulse purchases and, in some cases, lack technical skills to engage in online communication, Sephora can use intrinsic touchpoints. For instance, in stores, it is critical to ensure the presence of well-educated experts, including specialists in mature skin care. In addition, to appeal to older generations, Sephora TV should ensure diversity in its instructional videos and use models of different ages. In other words, stressing the educational component of the target customer’s communication with the brand can be helpful.
Due to the carefully selected touchpoints, the company’s clients feel excited and satisfied when shopping at Sephora, can express their unique beauty, and communicate with a number of industry experts. Importantly, Sephora’s efforts can still be improved to reach Generation X and Baby Boomers. It requires stressing consumer education to help clients make informed choices and focusing on the representation of different generations in online tutorials and other materials.
Aaker, D. A., & Moorman, C. (2017). Strategic market management (11th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Lee, S. H., & Workman, J. E. (2015). Determinants of brand loyalty: Self-construal, self-expressive brands, and brand attachment. International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, 8(1), 12-20.
Leung, P. P. L., Wu, C. H., Ip, W. H., & Ho, G. T. (2019). Enhancing online-to-offline specific customer loyalty in beauty industry. Enterprise Information Systems, 13(3), 352-375.
Lissitsa, S., & Kol, O. (2016). Generation X vs. Generation Y – a decade of online shopping. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 31, 304-312.
Ordun, G. (2015). Millennial (Gen Y) consumer behavior, their shopping preferences and perceptual maps associated with brand loyalty. Canadian Social Science, 11(4), 40-55.
Sephora. n.d. Featured brands. Web.