The objective of Scouted by Sephora, a program launched in January 2015 by the specialty beauty retailer, is to bring together the top beauty finds in the marketplace with consumers, who will in turn be inspired by them.
Judging from Sephora’s most recent event, mission accomplished.
“That’s what this is about today. And to give the consumer a chance to meet the founders of these brands,” explained Jessica Stacey, Vice President of Public Relations, Events and Field Marketing for Sephora.
When the program debuted two years ago products were scouted on a monthly basis and lived on Sephora.com. As a second phase, a number of those brands moved into certain doors to reside collectively on a wall, highlighted by products, photos of the product’s founders and a quote that spoke to the company’s inspiration. Some stayed all year; some newer joined the wall.
The next evolution of the program became in-store appearances.
Last week nine brand founders were asked to spend two days meeting and greeting consumers at two of Sephora’s newest stores in Manhattan; Sephora 5th Avenue and Sephora 34th Street. Since 2016 last week’s event was the second of its kind.
Brands featured in the latest scouted assortment represented skin care, color, fragrance and hair. Founders invited to the two-day event included: Dr. Roebuck’s (clean beauty from Australia), Skin Laundry, Youth to The People, Ciate, Ilia, Milk Makeup, Natasha Denona, Surratt and IGK. “The scouting program is a collaboration between Sephora’s Marketing and Merchandising departments who are in constant search for the latest and greatest brands we know our clients want to discover,” said Deborah Yeh, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Brands. “A year and a half ago Marketing decided to turn what we do every day into a story that we bring to our clients. Every season we introduce a new crop of brands, go behind the scenes, talk about why they are special, and why clients want to know about them. You’ll see a wall of scouted products in our skin care sections where we bring those stories to life.”
Sasha Plavsic, founder of Ilia, a natural color beauty line known for buildable lipsticks, launched six years ago in Canada selling in just one boutique. Part of Sephora’s scouting program for the past year, she was most excited for customer interaction.
“I don’t think anything beats face-to-face,” she said. “An event like this creates a lasting memory with the consumer.”
Zanna Roberts Rassi, co-founder of Milk, which launched in 2016, spoke similarly of the opportunity to meet her consumer.
“It’s the best market research. You get to meet new consumers and understand what they want from our line and how they interact with our products,” she said. “They ask us questions and we ask them some. It’s a great two-way street. We want that dialogue. Thanks to social we have that, but to be here, and watch the consumer shop while being part of these other cult beauty lines, is really an honor and an amazing opportunity to have as a small brand.”
For Troy Surratt, whose cosmetic line focuses on innovation and Japanese technology, and who has been part of the scouting program for two-years, acknowledged the huge success Sephora has brought him.
“It changed my trajectory. You’re taken seriously,” he said. “The orders that came in were substantial. We launched online with a huge reception. Then Sephora called and asked what we had in stock. We sent them our inventory and they turned that into a purchase order and made us a real business.”