Ulta Has Found Another Way to Make Its Customers Really Happy

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Beauty loyalty programs are everywhere now, but Ulta’s Ultamate Rewards is one of the biggest. After all, it currently estimates 24.5 million active members (for reference, that’s almost the entire population of Australia). Earn points for every dollar you spend on products and then redeem those points for more products—it’s a beauty junkie’s best friend. And now, as WWD reports, the retailer is leveraging the program’s data it’s accumulated over the years to make its customers even happier with a fresh marketing strategy.

This new plan first came into play when Ulta received 150,000 samples of Urban Decay’s VICE lipstick (in collaboration with the brand’s big launch), and was trying to figure out a way to best distribute them. According to WWD, Ulta decided to filter through its extensive database to find loyalty members who previously purchased Urban Decay products (and also liked lip products), but had yet to try the brand’s lipsticks. Once this group was determined, Ulta then shipped the samples to each member with a specific goal in mind: get them to try the lipstick, fall in love with it and go buy it. Clever.

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And no surprise here: The strategy was successful. Ulta analyzed its shopping patterns over the next few months and found that 41 percent of the customers it sent samples to ended up buying the lipstick afterward. Clearly they knew a good thing when they saw it—Ulta now uses this tactic as part of its regular marketing plan, and company execs say it’s helping give them a leg up on their competitors. 

Eric Messerschmidt, Ulta’s senior vice president of marketing strategy, loyalty and CRM, told WWD, “Our success, at least over the last several years, has allowed us to build a really strong pipeline of newness. Brands are coming to us. It wasn’t this way six years ago. We had to scrap and fight for every brand.”

Looks like “try before you buy” is here to stay, and you can keep a lookout for more and more beauty samples coming your way. Who doesn’t love freebies?

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