Brand loyalty in beauty is no joke. Some women use the same product for decades and have no interest trying anything else. There are also those women who choose to shop for their all their beauty must-haves at one store, and one store only. It might be because their goal is to rack up serious points in the store’s loyalty program, or it could boil down to sheer preference or access—is there an Ulta right across the street from your house and Sephora requires a drive to the mall? Or vice versa?
To quantify women’s beauty shopping habits, analytics company 1010data evaluated the credit and debit card transactions at the top two retailers in this category—Sephora and Ulta Beauty—from January 2016 to December 2017. The data reflects the spending habits of more than 1 million consumers and how those shopping behaviors changed from one year to the next.
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According to the report, Ulta Beauty’s retail locations claimed a higher share of sales than Sephora stores in 2017, with 49 percent of sales compared to Sephora’s 30 percent. However, Sephora took the lead in the e-commerce space, with 13 percent of sales compared to Ulta’s 4 percent.
Overall, Sephora and Ulta’s combined online sales grew 14 percent year over year, which proves more people are surfing the web in search of their beauty buys, but good ol’ brick and mortar shopping still reigns supreme. One key reason is most likely the “try before you buy” marketing ploy, which lets consumers sample before they make a purchase—who wouldn’t want to swatch an entire range of eye shadow shades on their arm before they buy one? Of course there are apps that let you virtually “try on” makeup and such nowadays, but this “touch it, feel it” way of shopping just simply isn’t available online.
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Another noteworthy stat from the report: Ulta has the highest customer loyalty of the two beauty giants—a whopping 98 percent of Ulta’s shoppers did not shop at Sephora in 2017. But, that’s not to say Sephora doesn’t have a loyal following as well. Eighty percent of the retailer’s active customers only shopped in-house last year and didn’t pay a visit to its competitor.
Luckily, we don’t have to pick a favorite—how could we even choose?
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