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How Video Marketing Shaped Sephora’s $37.2 Billion Success

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An average woman spends around 55 minutes every single day applying makeup. So it’s no surprise the value of global beauty industry is expected to reach $675 billion by 2020.

Beauty brands, like Sephora, who are staying in touch with all the latest marketing trends and tactics have seen an explosive growth in their brand value and yearly revenue. Sephora is currently worth a crazy $37.2 billion with,

  • 962k followers on YouTube

  • 13.9 million followers on Instagram

  • 17 million likes on Facebook

  • 2.4 million followers on Twitter

Much of their success comes from their video marketing prowess via these very platforms. Because let's face it, in the age of online buying, who’d buy a $30 foundation without going through a million reviews on YouTube? And Instagram? And SnapChat?  

No one. Exactly.

So the beauty world and video go hand in hand.

Sephora also focuses on creating videos at scale. While using Wipster, Sephora went from 250 videos in 2016 to over 600 in 2017. Their ability to work efficiently and publish more video faster means they get in front of more of their audience with highly targeted content. It's all about the right content, at the right time, for the best beauty experience. 

“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. 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.”

Calvin McDonald, CEO and President of Sephora

1. Queen of Influencer Marketing

When it comes to the brand’s criteria for these influencers, it’s focused primarily on millennials who are just beginning to play with beauty.
Deborah Yeh, Sephora’s senior vice president of marketing and brand.

Sephora’s influencer campaigns scream real. They partner with authentic influencers; people who’re truly obsessed by beauty and have built powerful empires by demonstrating their beauty expertise.

As a Sephora representative said,

‘One fun story Sephora shared was about an influencer who created a video with Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, back when it was shaped like a genie bottle. The influencer actually cut the bottle in half - on video - so that she could scoop out the last bits of the product. Sephora and Urban Decay were huge fans of this video, because it was authentic -- the influencer loved the product so much that she wanted to get out every last drop she could.’

They’ve partnered with influencers in several different ways.

SnapChat takeovers

Sephora collaborated with Clinique spokeswoman, Hannah Bronfman, on a live SnapChat takeover. Hannah showed SnapChat followers her daily beauty routine and introduced products that she used and loved.

Sephora Uses Snapchat for Video Marketing

These kind of Live video takeovers are great at establishing a brand’s authority and bringing in a gigantic amount of new followers.


YouTube beauty videos

Sephora consistently partners with top makeup artists and beauty lovers on YouTube and provides them Sephora goodies in exchange for honest reviews.

My name’s Maham Chappal, and I’m a YouTube beauty video junkie.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times my favorite beauty gurus did haul, product testing, and first impression videos in collaboration with Sephora. And Google backs me on this claim.

Sephora uses Youtube and Wipster for Video workflow and publishing

Instagram-ming their way to success

They also partner with micro influencers and macro influencers on social media, especially Instagram (which is a hub for beauty lovers). They started a campaign #beautyuncomplicated where they encouraged these influencers to post videos using their Sephora Collection and send people to the brand’s website.



Key Takeaway:

2018 is the year of influencers. Don’t focus on celebrity level influencers, but find small-to-medium ones that are popular in your consumer's circle. Collaborate with like-minded brands and increase your reach.

2. Collects and uses audience data strategically

“Data is kind of a currency to us. We have a lot of data on our clients and we’re trying to figure out how to leverage it.”
Angel Singh, director of product analytics and optimization at Sephora.

Most of their success is attributed to their data collection expertise. Among other tactics, they use external social listening tools, utilize data from their Beauty Insider program and several other loyalty levels to understand the needs and wants of their potential customers.

Sephora knew that beauty content on YouTube grew by 50% from 2014 to 2015 and that YouTube searches related to "how-to" were up 70% year over year. So they created their YouTube strategy accordingly. They focus heavily on how-to tutorials, product demonstrations, and partaking in the latest trends (feather brows, anybody?!) to appease their consumers.

“Since the inception of YouTube, Sephora has used video to galvanize our strength in stores — to demystify makeup from the most basic applications to the latest trends.”
Bridget Dolan, VP and Head of Sephora’s Innovation Lab

Leveraging data to select the right brand ambassadors

Each year, Sephora partners with new ambassadors and micro influencers to promote their latest merchandise. They’ve partnered with StyleHaul, a content marketing agency that provides them with real data on their consumers and potential brand ambassador. It helps them figure out which influencer has better cross channel reach and will be useful for their influencer program.

Currently in 2018, Sephora is focusing on promoting their #LIPSTORIES line of 40 lipsticks that debuted in December last year.


Key Takeaway:

Before creating a video marketing strategy, focus on understanding your potential consumers thoroughly. Collect data extensively and then use it to create an optimum strategy.


3. Synchronised Videos

DeSantis Breindel in his whitepaper on synchronized marketing says,

‘If you think of synchronized swimming in the Olympics, all the swimmers orchestrate their moves simultaneously to create a much larger and more important image than any individual stroke.’

Makes sense, right?

All successful brands unify their brand message through synchronised marketing. Sephora does the same, especially where their video marketing strategy is concerned. Let’s discuss some of the synchronised elements in their YouTube video marketing plan.

Synchronised backdrops

Most of their YouTube How to and Tutorial videos that feature their regular employees have a solid white backdrop in their background.

Sephora uses Wipster and Youtube for How to Videos

Video featuring their pro-artists are shot against a wall full of Sephora goodies.

Sephora Wipster Case Study Video Marketing

Tutorials that feature influencers and are collaborations have natural backgrounds.

Sephora and Wipster for video testimonials

Here’s an excellent article by Wistia that teaches you everything you need to know about creating on fleek backdrops.

2. Synchronised Intro

Most of their videos start off with the following image, one that embodies Sephora’s brand image.

Sephora Brand Image For Video

Then the video presenter - makeup artists, their senior artists, or influencers - will introduce themselves within 10 seconds.

Then there’s a couple of seconds long animated title clip, giving out Sephora’s minimalistic vibes.  

Sephora branded marketing video intros

4. Supports and Promotes Diversity

The former beauty director of Essence magazine has stated, “foundations and concealers [are] not going dark enough. Most companies seem to stop at Kerry Washington. Any women darker than her seem to be out of luck.”

Several brands are still promoting fairer skin, in Nivea’s case ‘visibly fairer skin’ for Western Africa, L’Oréal Paris’s ‘White Perfect range’ to ‘visibly brighten skin tone’ for Asian skin tones, and Garnier’s ‘White Complete’ for ‘instant whitening and flawless fair skin’.

And let’s not forget this ridiculous Loreal ad where they’ve completely whitewashed Indonesian and Asian skin tones. The average Indonesian skin tone is at least couple of shades darker than Loreal’s darkest foundation.


But there are other big beauty brands who’re acting as strong diversity advocates.

Sephora is one such brand. They’re keen on promoting diversity in their video campaigns to their target market - women in all shapes, sizes, colors, race, ethnicity, and beauty.  One of their recent campaigns, Reach out and Gift, is an excellent example of this.

For this holiday collection, Sephora chose their own multicultural employees. Over 1000 brand consultants applied and 10 were chosen. All the consultants were asked to send a video explaining how they defined ‘unique beauty’.

Another campaign that did incredibly well last year was their #NeverStop, celebrating beauty choices of all women.


5. SnapchaT 

Sephora was one of the very first brands to join SnapChat and use it for multi channel marketing.

Wipster Sephora Case Study Using Snapchat

They’ve run super successful sweepstakes through this app, black friday promotions, deals and discounts, new product introductions, trips to events, details about their popular Facebook AMAs, and so much more.


They’ve also embraced SnapChat’s geofilters, and allow users to use them when they’re near Sephora stores. They also introduced lenses and makeover filters to further entertain their followers.

However, one of their biggest wins through this app has been their experiments with shoppable posts. They create short videos and image posts showcasing their products and ask users to screenshot whichever product strikes their fancy. The they’re asked to download the ShopStyle iOS app and upload the screenshot in the app. The app will pull up details of that product and allow users to purchase it.


Do YOU. But do it!

We’ve reached a point where video is no longer an option. You have to invest your time, money, and effort in it in order to succeed. It doesn’t matter what platform you start with, or the kind of videos you create, just start. Sephora was one of the first one’s in the beauty industry to start using videos everywhere, and look how it’s paying them back now.  

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