When news broke in November 2020 that Ulta Beauty and Target were combining forces to execute one mega beauty experience across Target’s fleet of stores, two big themes were apparent: The definition of luxury has changed, in that convenience is now the ultimate luxury. And big beauty players are gunning to get bigger.
In August, Ulta Beauty and Target revealed the finished concept, complete with 54 prestige brands and iconic franchises like Too Faced’s Better Than Sex mascara and Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer. One-hundred stores will be complete by the end 2021, with a goal of opening 800 locations in the next few years.
At the helm of this project was Kecia Steelman, COO of Ulta Beauty, and Cassandra Jones, vp of beauty and gm of the Ulta Beauty partnership at Target. The twosome and their teams were responsible for ensuring that Ulta Beauty maintained its Ulta Beauty feel and that Target expanded its beauty footprint.
Below, Steelman and Jones discuss their strategy.
How did bringing Ulta Beauty’s assortment into Target stores elevate or change Target’s beauty offering?
Jones: “Our partnership helps us to build on the strength of our beauty experience with a complementary assortment of prestige brands from Ulta Beauty. Guests can now shop the products they already love and discover new ones. It’s exactly what our guests have been asking for: prestige beauty brands alongside our top national and exclusive brands. Target’s Beauty category has consistently unlocked ways to raise the bar as a best-in-class beauty retail destination, and Ulta Beauty has been the perfect partner … This is truly differentiated from the rest of the industry and prominently placed near the existing beauty section in Target stores, with specialized brand displays and discovery zones. It also features seasonally relevant products.”
How were prestige brands and corresponding products selected?
Steelman: “We handpicked our assortment of just over 50 prestige brands that were previously only found at specialty beauty retailers. And we included guest-favorites like Anastasia Beverly Hills, BareMinerals, Morphe, Pattern, Philosophy, Sunday Riley, Tarte and The Ordinary, [among many others]. Our intention is for guests to discover beauty products they love, as well as new items to fall in love with. We worked to determine which brands would inspire guest engagement through discovery and newness.”
Jones: “One way we’ve brought this to life has been to expand our assortment with holiday gift sets from existing partners and even new brands coming in 2022. Our ongoing curation demonstrates the strength of both our teams to deliver trend-forward products.”
What are people gravitating toward, from a category, brand or product perspective?
Jones: “One of the many synergies we have is how we both keep our loyal guests at the center of everything we do. We’re seeing very high guest satisfaction ratings, as our guests tell us how easy it is to find and shop our elevated assortment of prestige brands within Ulta Beauty at Target. The excitement never gets old, and we keep hearing it as more shops open and the partnership expands. Guests note how they love that Ulta Beauty at Target helps streamline their day with one less stop and [offers them] more brands to shop.”
Steelman: “We know our guests are loving brands like Too Faced, The Ordinary and Ariana Grande, but what we’ve provided goes beyond an incredible assortment. We’ve created a one-of-a-kind beauty shopping experience to discover prestige beauty, [complete] with passionate, trained team members who can help guide shopping experiences and ensure [customers] are finding exactly what they need. It’s not an Ulta Beauty store within Target, and it’s not Target’s existing beauty offering. It’s something new that we created together, bespoke to what the guest wants. [And we] believe it’s redefining beauty retail.”
What can you tell us about how the dual loyalty programs are working together?
Steelman: “Together, Target and Ulta Beauty have more than 100 million active loyalty members. Guest loyalty is incredibly important to both of us. So we’re proud to reward guests for choosing to shop Ulta Beauty at Target by offering points on both Ultamate Rewards and Target Circle with every transaction, and the ability to apply 5% RedCard discounts to Ulta Beauty at Target purchases. We’re especially proud of this offering, as it keeps guests at the center, which is one of the most important North Stars for our partnership. We sought to deepen loyalty, and what better way to do that than by creating a new, exciting channel and rewarding [customers] even more?”