For many people, Sephora is the first and last stop when it comes to beauty shopping. With more than 2,300 stories worldwide, a JC Penney partnership, one of the most addicting websites ever, and so many free samples, it’s easy to see how women don’t think twice about not venturing anywhere else.
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But here’s the catch you probably don’t know: Sephora isn’t exactly unbiased as far as what products it wants you to buy. A recent report by the The Wall Street Journal reveals that Sephora (which is part of luxury fashion and beauty conglomerate LVHM), dedicates almost 50 percent of its shelf space to promoting other LVMH brands (including Fresh, Make Up For Ever, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Benefit Cosmetics, Guerlain, Kat von D, Bite Beauty, Ole Henriksen, Formula X, Dior, and of course, Sephora Collection) even though its sister brands make up only 15 out of the hundreds of beauty brands carried at the stores. This means competitive prestige brands such as Urban Decay, NARS and Too Faced don’t always get the prime real estate—and some, not much real estate at all.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the combination of Sephora’s popularity and its how it merchandises products have left LVMH competitors such as Estée Lauder Companies and L’Oréal in a position of simultaneously reliant on the retailer and pressured to diversify its distribution channels. This strategy, however, is made tough by Sephora’s exclusivity clause, requiring that some brands sell their top products at Sephora only. The article also cites that Sephora has, in the past, requested that brands remove their products from competitors such as Amazon.