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Can Walmart Become a Major Beauty Player?

BOF | 6 October 2021

Walmart’s beauty assortment has traditionally featured standard mass market and drugstore brands. But today, as traditional retailers are making new investments in beauty, a fresh approach was required. 

Competitors Target and Kohl’s inked partnerships with Ulta and Sephora, respectively, last year, and JC Penney just unveiled a new in-store beauty experience. To further reinvigorate their aisles, all are vying to sign exclusive deals with newer, digital-first brands. The hope is to become a brand-discovery destination for younger consumers and generate (even a fraction of) the buzz that other direct-to-consumer lines like Kylie Cosmetics and Glossier have in the past.

Balbale is trying to change that and is leaning into bolder categories like sexual wellness to send a message to customers that it’s okay to buy products that may have a stigma attached. “That kind of democratisation from the big box retailers is making people feel like this isn’t something I have to be nervous to order or be ashamed of,” said Katie Thomas, head of the Kearney Consumer Institute, a think tank that evaluates consumer behaviour.

Prices for Uoma by Sharon C, which launched at Walmart in June, are a fraction of those for the original brand. A lip gloss is $7 and foundation $15, while Uoma’s lip gloss and foundation sell for $22 and $39, respectively, at Ulta. The biggest difference, according to Chuter, is the packaging, which contains less custom detailing like a mascara with a lizard skin effect. Despite the affordable price point, the diffusion brand looks and feels sexier and more “indie” than the drugstore makeup mainstays traditionally sold at Walmart. Balbale said the retailer is trying new ways to support product launches and get the word out about new brands.

“Ulta and Sephora win at being that beauty destination, but Walmart wins at being that cross-shop destination,” Thomas said. But with that, Walmart also faces a challenge that other retailers don’t: striking a balance between being a place for replenishment and a destination for discovery of new brands. “Consumers come to Walmart because of a shopping list, that’s what drives them there. The trigger for the customer journey is one of replenishment and a need for speed and efficiency,” said Balbale. “It’s really different than a department store or specialty retail where people go to spend time.”

Sephora to Open Five Stores in Mexico By 2022

Beauty Matter | 24 September 2021

Sephora entered the Mexican market in the fall of 2011, opening a 5,400-sq-ft store in Antara Fashion Hall in the Polanco section of Mexico City, and currently has an 11-store footprint. According to Forbes Mexico, Sephora will invest more than 150 million pesos ($7.5 million) in opening five new stores in Mexico by 2022 and boosting its e-commerce operations in the region. The Mexican beauty and personal care market was valued at $9.46 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $19.48 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 7.5% from 2021 to 2028. While the market is quite strong, it is small relative to the country’s total population, representing a tremendous opportunity.

Darío Aguilar, Sephora Mexico’s Chief Executive, said of the market, “We are estimating the closing of 2021 at the levels of 2019, for the last quarter of 2021 we would close the gap that we bring but what does continue to grow is e-commerce, it fell by 30% because it was conditioned by the closing of stores. Right now e-commerce is representing 25% and it is still a very high number because we are gaining new consumers and we are recovering traffic and normality in stores.”

“We not only want to continue entering physical stores but also e-commerce where we have investment plans of 70 million pesos [$3.5 million]. We have already invested a lot in our platform and what we are doing is promoting updates and in the future we will be incorporating new features such as augmented reality to test the virtual training products and we launched our app a week ago in Mexico.” Sephora has identified Tijuana as well as 20 other cities across Mexico for expansion with physical locations.

Glossier Names New CFO, CCO

BOF | 2 November 2021

Seun Sodipo, who was previously the head of product finance and strategy at Stripe, will take over as chief financial officer at the digitally focused beauty retailer next spring, Glossier said Tuesday. Sodipo will take over from Vanessa Wittman, who has served in the role since 2019 and is retiring.

In addition, Glossier hired Kyle Leahy as chief commercial officer from Cole Hahn, and Kristy Maynes was named senior vice president of retail, coming from Lululemon. In July, Glossier announced an $80 million Series E fundraising round that valued the company at $1.8 billion. The company has raised $266 million in total.

Black Beauty Retailer Thirteen Lune Closes $3M Seed Led By Fearless Fund

Forbes | 3 November 2021

The first-of-its-kind truly inclusive beauty e-commerce platform, thirteen lune, announced a $3 million funding round led by Fearless Fund, a venture capital firm by women of color, for women of color. The transaction underscores strong investor confidence in thirteen lune’s growth, profitability and market position and consumer interest in inclusive beauty. The investment will accelerate production of thirteen lune’s private label line, improvements to its supply chain, and build a more robust executive level team.

Fearless Fund General Partner and cofounder, Arian Simone, was introduced to the cofounder of thirteen lune, Nyakio Grieco, through a mutual friend and was instantly impressed by its unique platform which is promoting representation in the beauty industry in a way that’s never been seen before. “Our goal as a VC fund is to support Women of Color-founded brands and bridge the gap in funding that currently has less than 1% of WOC-businesses receiving capital. We were particularly excited to lead this investment as it not only supports Nyakio and thirteen lune, but through their platform, also supports 100 beauty brands that are either founded by Black entrepreneurs or allies for Black beauty,” explained Simone. Fearless Fund has significant experience investing in the beauty and wellness space. Current and past investments include Range Beauty, Amp Beauty LA, Hairbrella, Slutty Vegan, Nudies and many others.

Hyaluronic acid is popular on TikTok — but this time, it’s for hair

Glossy | 3 November 2021

On TikTok, beauty trends often stem from the unexpected. Lube as face primer? Sure. Baby powder for thicker eyelashes? TikTokers have tried it. The latest trend has to do with hyaluronic acid, and it’s where you’d least expect it. On the app, the hashtag #hyaluronicacid — for the ingredient that’s so popular, there are memes about it — has 104.6 million views. There are countless iterations of the term, including misspelled versions of the hashtag, that are also popular. And while the ingredient is commonly known as a skin-care ingredient often found in hydrating serums, it is now gaining popularity as a hair fix.

On TikTok, where social media-famous experts are quick to weigh in on trends, this one has been noted for being safe for color-treated hair. And, thanks to brands like The Inkey List and The Ordinary, it can be tested for less than $10. Inkey List co-founder Mark Curry confirmed that the brand has recently seen an uptick in interest in its hyaluronic acid hair product.

‘Instant beauty gratification’: Ulta Beauty partners with DoorDash for same-day delivery

USA Today | 2 November 2021

DoorDash and Ulta Beauty are teaming up for same-day delivery aiming for “instant beauty gratification” the beauty brand announced Tuesday, just weeks after Sephora said it would offer same-day delivery. In select cities across the United States, — including Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Boise, Idaho, — customers will have access to Ulta’s more than 25,000 products spanning skincare, cosmetics, fragrances and haircare on demand through DoorDash Drive, which provides direct delivery for businesses.

“We see consumers looking for faster and more convenient ways to get their favorite brands delivered same-day,” Shanna Prevé, vice president of strategic partnerships and business development at DoorDash, said in a release. To order, customers can visit Ulta’s website to add products to their cart, check local availability and choose the same-day delivery option while checking out. There is a $9.95 for each order. For orders over $99.99, a signature will be required. “As we enter our busiest time of year, Ulta Beauty could not be more thrilled about our partnership with DoorDash to conveniently deliver the joy of beauty,” Prama Bhatt, chief digital officer of Ulta Beauty, said in a release.

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