Sephora’s rewards program and product display may make you spend more money. These are other sneaky ways it gets your money.

  • Sephora has a massive following.
  • Members of the store’s rewards program have spent upwards of $35,000 to redeem exclusive members-only trips.
  • The store offers unique technology, Color IQ, to identify specific foundation shades to match customers to products.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Have you ever left Sephora with way more products than you intended to buy when you first stepped in the door? You’re probably not the only one. Sephora was named retailer of the year at the 2018 World Retail Congress. And it seems that people can’t get enough. Here are some sneaky ways you might not have noticed that Sephora gets you to spend more.

As soon as you walk into one of their locations, you’ll notice what makes Sephora different from the traditional department stores it competes with. Sephora has nearly all of their products on display, so customers can try just about everything. It’s great for the customers because they can test stuff out, but it’s equally great for the company because you’re in the store for longer, which means you’re more likely to buy more.

A 2015 study found that the likelihood of purchasing a product increases with time spent holding and looking at it in the store. The more time you spend trying out a product, the more it feels like it’s already in your possession and you need to purchase it.

Sephora also has kiosks stocked with makeup remover, tissues, and other necessities so customers can clean up, and, more importantly, so that they can try more products throughout the store. And if you’re not sure what to get, Sephora has even developed special technology to match customers with their perfect foundation shades. The device, called Color IQ, scans your skin to assign you a four-number code, which gives you a curated list of all the foundation shades from different brands that will best match your specific skin tone.

And if you’re not taking advantage of the samples, the shelves are also set up with an eye on your wallet. The most expensive products are placed on top shelves because they’re the easiest to reach, while cheaper items are on the bottom shelves. And, of course, the checkout line is surrounded with travel-size goodies to tempt you at the last minute.

Amanda Krause: So, when you’re up against the register lines and, you know, you’re kind of looking at all those mini products, you’ll find things that are maybe, you know, $5, $10, depending on what it is. And that can be enticing for a lot of reasons. Maybe there’s a primer you really wanna try but you don’t wanna spend $25 on the full size, so you can just get a smaller one for 10 bucks.

Narrator: But while the smaller products and their smaller price tags may seem like a good deal, they’re often not. Take, for example, the GlamGlow SuperMud mask. The full size costs a whopping $59. In comparison, the mini half-ounce jars for $25 seems like a steal. But in reality, the mini costs $50 per ounce, while the full-size jar comes out to about $35 per ounce. So if you’re looking to save money, the larger product is actually more cost-effective.

Another way Sephora gets customers to spend more is simply by being their go-to beauty store. They accomplish this by carrying a diverse array of brands, including ones that can’t be found anywhere else. The company often collaborates with brands to release limited-edition items, which not only draws customers in, but pressures them to purchase the products.

Krause: Sephora might have that one exclusive item that you can’t get anywhere else. So it really kind of draws people in because you never really know what you’re going to find there.

Narrator: Exclusive brands and items make it easy to keep coming back. More than anything, Sephora’s all about building brand loyalty. Case in point: their robust rewards program. According to the Harvard Business Review, reward programs not only encourage customer loyalty, but can also get new customers to shop like older, more profitable customers. And the longer a person has been a customer, the more profitable they become to the store and the less they cost to serve.

Sephora’s Beauty Insider program has three tiers, and anyone can sign up for the basic level. Members earn a point for every dollar they spend, as well as perks like a birthday gift and beauty classes. The highest, most coveted tier is Rouge, and you have to spend $1,000 in a calendar year to qualify. The exclusive benefits include significant discounts on all merchandise during Sephora’s sales and free two-day shipping year round.

Nico Reyes: So, I’ve actually been a Sephora shopper since about 2014. And only just recently, this past year, did I become a VIB Rouge.

Narrator: Sephora’s exclusive rewards for Rouge members include sponsored trips with cosmetics brands to New York City or Los Angeles, and some members have even spent more than $35,000 to rack up enough points to redeem on such trips. But is it worth the $1,000 to reach Rouge status?

Reyes: VIB Rouge has benefits that VIB doesn’t have, like early access to products, like invitations to, like, Sephora events, facials, whatever. If that’s something you’re interested in, then work towards it, sure. But if not, VIB is literally so similar. They’re so similar in terms of their benefits; I don’t think it’s worth it to actively try to spend $1,000 a year to reach that status.

Narrator: After all, both VIB and Rouge members have access to Sephora’s sales. Sephora definitely makes it easy to spend more, but finding good deals isn’t impossible.

Krause: Sephora constantly puts things on clearance, just maybe not at the forefront of the store. Keep an eye on the website, keep an eye on their social-media pages, like their Instagram, their Twitter, see what promotions are going on, and really just kind of focus on some of the sales and promotions that they do, because a lot of the times you can get equally good products for a little bit less money.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in August 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Sephora vs. Ulta: We compared the perks of each store’s membership programs and more

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Sephora v. Ulta 4x3
  • As one-stop shops for all things beauty, Sephora and Ulta are often compared.
  • Both are actually pretty similar and great for stocking up on makeup, skincare, and haircare.
  • Here we break down their differences, from membership programs to shipping costs.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

If you’re an avid shopper of all things beauty, you’ve probably been to a Sephora or an Ulta – maybe even both. As one-stop shops for everything from makeup to skincare to haircare and all else in between, many people compare the two stores.

Sephora has a reputation for selling more luxury beauty brands while Ulta has long been considered a retailer for drugstore brands. The reality is that these two stores aren’t so different. With competitive rewards programs, strong selections, beauty services, and more, both stores offer a great shopping experience.

Wondering where you should go to get what? Below we’ve covered the membership programs, rewards, product and brand selections, ways to shop, and how to decide which store is best for you.

Keep reading for a complete breakdown of what you can expect to find at Sephora and Ulta.

Brands and product selection

Sephora Collection Lip Gloss
Sephora carries a host of brands, including its popular in-house Sephora Collection.

Both stores carry a wide range of products across all price ranges, and there is a lot of overlap between the two when it comes to brand selection. Generally, Sephora stocks more high-end brands and Ulta more drugstore options.

Sephora: Sephora carries hundreds of brands, along with its own private label. Sephora Collection, the store’s in-house line, offers affordable beauty products starting as low as $1. The store also stocks a host of mid-tier brands, as well as high-end ones like Dior, La Mer, and Chanel. Fenty Beauty, Huda Beauty, and Charlotte Tilbury are some of Sephora’s standout brands you can’t find at Ulta.

Ulta: Ulta Beauty Collection is the store’s in-house label offering affordable beauty products — prices start below $1 for a sheet mask — with everything from skincare to beauty tools. Like Sephora, you can find plenty of mid-tier brands, but what stands out about Ulta is its curation of budget beauty brands. NYX, e.l.f. Cosmetics, and L’Oréal are some of the drugstore brands you can’t find at Sephora.

Sales and deals

Sephora  products
Some of the brands at Sephora you can save on.

Both beauty stores have online sale sections and limited-time deals. Ulta tends to host sales more often, but Sephora gives greater savings during singular events. And like many retailers, the sales are even greater when you enroll in their membership programs.

Sephora: The beauty retailer has weekly sales on trial and mini sizes, and with online orders, you can choose two free samples at checkout. Sephora also hosts a massive annual spring sale where Beauty Insiders can save big on popular brand names. If you sign up for the rewards program, you can use an exclusive promo code to take 10% off nearly every product Sephora carries. And for Rouge and VIB members, the deals are even greater — saving 15% and 20% off, respectively. Right now, everyone can get free shipping with the code “FREESHIP.”

Ulta: Constantly releasing coupons, buy more save more deals, and sale items, Ulta makes it easy for people to shop discounted beauty products both in-store and online. Its big sale events — like the 21 Days of Beauty, the Gorgeous Hair Event, and the Love Your Skin Event — are notorious for featuring Beauty Steals, where customers can shop up to 50% off top brands like Tarte and Glamglow and the deals refresh every 24 hours. These events come and go quickly, so you can sign up for Ulta Beauty emails to stay in the know for big upcoming events.


Ulta Morphe Setting Spray
One of the photo-ready products you can find at Ulta right now.

Both stores offer membership programs that reward shoppers through points programs, granting them special access to promotions, and more.

Sephora: Beauty Insider is Sephora’s membership program. There are three levels of membership: Beauty Insider, VIB, and VIB Rouge. Any shopper can become a Beauty Insider since there’s no minimum spend necessary. To become a VIB member, you must spend $350 a year, and to become a VIB Rouge member that number goes up to $1,000 a year.

Ulta: Ultamate Rewards is Ulta’s membership for loyal shoppers. There are three tiers of membership: member, platinum member, and diamond member. There is no minimum spend required to become a regular member. You must spend $500 a year to become a platinum member and $1,200 to become a diamond member.

Rewards program benefits

Sephora laneige birthday set
This Laneige skincare set is one of the three eligible birthday gifts for Beauty Insiders.

Both the Beauty Insider and Ultamate Rewards programs offer great perks to shoppers, whether you’re spending lots of money at the store each year or none at all. Sephora offers its members more promotions while Ulta offers more birthday perks, but ultimately both programs reward shoppers very similarly. 

Sephora: There are many benefits of becoming a Beauty Insider. One of the most notable is the points system, which turns your spending into points that you can redeem at the Rewards Baazar in exchange for products. Here’s a rundown of the rewards you get, at every membership tier:

  • Insider: 1 point for every $1 you spend, 2 free birthday gifts, 10% off during seasonal savings events
  • VIB: 1 point for every $1 you spend, 2 free birthday gifts, 15% off during seasonal savings events, exclusive gifts with a monthly purchase
  • VIB Rouge: 1 point for every $1 you spend, 2 free birthday gifts, 20% off during seasonal savings events, exclusive gifts with a monthly purchase, free standard shipping, access to exclusive events, first-in-line for new product launches

Ulta: Ultamate Rewards members get lots of benefits that make future shopping hauls more affordable. Unlike Sephora where points are redeemed as products, at Ulta points are redeemed as cash discounts on future purposes. Here’s a breakdown of the rewards at every level:

  • Member: 1 point for every $1 you spend, free birthday gift, double points during your birthday month
  • Platinum: 1.25 points for every $1 you spend, free birthday gift, double points during your birthday month, $10 birthday coupon, points never expire
  • Diamond: 1.5 points for every $1 you spend, free birthday gift, double points during your birthday month, $10 birthday coupon, points never expire, everyday free shipping on orders of $25 or more, annual $25 beauty service reward card

Shipping costs

Ulta Beauty shopper

Both Sephora and Ulta have well-organized stores where you can find (and be tempted by) thousands of products on display. Both also offer pretty similar online shopping experiences, though Ulta offers an incredibly convenient in-store pickup option. 

Sephora: Sephora’s shipping offering is pretty standard. If you spend $50 or more, you’re eligible for free, standard three-day shipping. For orders less than $50, this same shipping costs $6.50. To get two- or one-day shipping, you’ll pay $10.95 or $16.95, respectively. If you shop online at Sephora often, it may be worth it for you to enroll in its flash shipping program. It costs just $15 a year and gives you free shipping for the entire year, no minimums required. 

Ulta: Ulta’s shipping rates and policies are pretty standard too. Regardless of how much you spend on your order, standard shipping costs $5.95 (3-8 business days), expedited shipping costs $9.95 (3-4 business days), and premium shipping costs $16.95 (2-3 business days).

If you want to avoid shipping costs and live close to an Ulta store location, use Ulta’s in-store pickup service. All you have to do is choose “Buy Online & Pick Up in Store” as your purchase option. When your order’s ready, you’ll get an email from Ulta — just head over to the chosen store with that email confirmation and an ID, and you’re good to go. 

So, where should you go?

Ulta Beauty store

Truthfully, it’s up to you. You can’t go wrong shopping at Sephora or Ulta. For many shoppers, it’s a matter of what they know. For example, I grew up going to a local Sephora and got a Beauty Insider card at that time. It’s still worth it for me to shop there as I’ve accumulated points over the years and it’s proved to be a brand I can really trust. If you grew up going to an Ulta instead, you’d probably say the same about that brand. 

Another factor in choosing where to shop is looking at what you want to buy. If e.l.f. Cosmetics is your favorite brand, go to Ulta — Sephora doesn’t stock the brand. If you love Charlotte Tilbury, you’ll want to go to Sephora, as Ulta doesn’t have it. Luckily, both Sephora and Ulta stock a number of popular beauty brands like Nars, Clinique, and Too Faced, among others — so if that’s what you need, you’re set wherever you go. 

Shop makeup, skincare, beauty tools, and more at Ulta.

Shop makeup, skincare, beauty tools, and more at Sephora.

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