The new platform, reported by WWD.com, is now live on both the brand’s app and desktop site. Further features will be installed on 22nd August. Though the brand has hosted community platforms before, this is the first time that ‘community-centric initiatives’ will be aggregated into one place.
The new Beauty Insider Community will include beauty matches, which filters photos and reviews by users, connecting those with similar beauty traits and habits, and a live community chat.
This is according to Mary Beth Laughton, Sephora’s senior vice president of digital, who told WWD that the new platform was about creating a profound relationship with the brand.
“We know our clients crave outlets and experiences that give her the deeper personal connections, and they want to be next to people they feel are like them and share their passion for beauty.
“We know they’re increasingly looking to their peers and people like them and this just plays into that,” Laughton said. At the moment, the platform is only available to members of the brand’s loyalty program, a group that the company hopes to grow.
As well as the chat function, profiles, groups, a gallery, and conversations will all strengthen users’ engagement, Laughton said, “but in different ways.” Yet the experience joins up, she added “It’s easy to navigate back and forth between them so they don’t feel like silos”.
Aside from the stated aim to “drive emotional connections” in the longer term, Laughton admitted that the initiative allows Sephora to “learn a lot about our clients and help better personalize their experience.”
Yet the most innovative element is the integration of advice from both customers and, next year, from sales associates also. “They’re such an amazing source of knowledge. We would love for them to be interacting with our clients as they would in-store”.
The move is illustrative of Sephora’s pivot to omnichannel, crucial for a brand that still leans heavily on the bricks-and-mortar. “We know that she’s constantly bouncing back and forth between physical and digital. If she’s starting online with this community … maybe she wants to physically try it on. It’s a natural progression into store,” Laughton said.
Data sourced from WWD, Sephora; additional content by WARC staff