Sephora and the Iron Throne of the Millennial Market
Last week, BAV Consulting along with US News & World Reports & Wharton hosted a Best Countries Breakfast Panel at the Young & Rubicam HQ in New York. Hosted by BAV’s SVP Anna Blender, the panel included Y&R’s Global CEO David Sable, US News & World Report’s President & CEO Bill Holiber, Business Development Lead at Airbnb Jonathan Leibtag and Millennial expert Chelsea Krost. It was an informative and engaging discussion with every speaker focusing on a different dynamic relating to this unique group, the premise being that every advertiser wants to capture this very valuable (and sometimes hard to please) Millennial consumer.
We live in a world where the average attention span of a human drops every year, where brand loyalty is increasingly harder to achieve and maintain, and where people can have conversations with their favorite brands in real time, made possible (and becoming more sophisticated by the day) through emerging technology and media. Amassing legions of faithful supporters in times like these is Sephora, a brand that constantly stays ahead of the game when it comes to meaningful engagement with this market.
When dissected under the BAV microscope, Sephora’s strongest pillar is Energized Differentiation . This metric is the leading element for successful brands and reads into the pricing power that a brand commands. The data also suggests that some of the top attributes that describe the Sephora personality are glamorous, stylish, trendy, upper-class, prestigious and charming. When plotted on the power grid, Sephora plays in the Leadership space.
When it comes to behavior and personality, one can observe that the brand aligns with Millennials in the following ways:
1. Like Millennials, Sephora embraces technology and makes it a huge part of the brand experience (think Augmented Reality face-scanning in-store and on mobile apps, digital walls, mobile point-of-sale systems & more!)
2. Sephora taps into the pulse of the millennial market by equating beauty care with self-expression, the latter being a huge element of what makes a Millennial tick. There is a sense of authenticity and relevance despite its perception as upper-class and prestigious (which could instead be alienating).
3. Millennials value experiences over material things, and Sephora capitalizes on this by giving their customers just that – a unique and personal in-store shopping experience, allowing the consumers to have fun and play with the products before buying them.
4. Just like their customers, Sephora is truly digital brand that lives outside of brick-and-mortar and constantly encourages share-worthy brand experiences.
Appealing to an audience that believes in self-discovery, bending rules, globalization and the convenience of technology is certainly no easy task. Stereotyping an audience that believes that they are special and unique isn’t easy either. This was the theme of the Best Countries Breakfast Panel. The only way to their heart of a Millennial is to really engage with them and get them to befriend you in a way that feels comfortable and fun, yet natural and effortless. Sephora seems to do this very well. Be it an exciting disrupter or a brand with a strong heritage, capturing this powerhouse of a market is on everyone’s agenda. Come 2017, the spending power among millennials is expected to cross $200 billion. Brace yourselves – the Millennials are coming.