When asked about her thoughts on the most promising platforms for marketing today, Abigail Jacobs, Sephora’s svp for integrated marketing and brand, had three answers: “TikTok, TikTok and TikTok.”
That’s why she spearheaded Sephora’s new partnership with TikTok, announced in March 2023, called the Sephora x TikTok Incubator Program. The purpose is to connect beauty brands in the Sephora Accelerate program to top TikTok beauty influencers including Amy Chang, Rocio Lopez-Jimenez and Nyma Tang.
“You don’t have to have a million followers or fans on TikTok; you just have to create really compelling, interesting content,” said Jacobs of the social platform.
Sephora experienced a “remarkable rebound” from the pandemic in 2022, according to the highlights listed in parent group LVMH’s annual results for the year. The company’s quarterly earnings statement for Q1 2023 said the beauty retailer “saw exceptional performance over the quarter and continued to gain market share,” with North America, Europe and the Middle East listed as the markets with especially high momentum.
The TikTok emphasis is part of Sephora’s Gen-Z marketing strategy, which Jacobs said is a big focus for her team.
“We talk a lot about Gen Z at Sephora, and I think there is a negative narrative about Gen Z being impatient. I love this generation’s impatience,” she said. “It’s lighting a fire under brands and companies in a way we have never seen, and personally, I am here for it. They don’t need anything from us — they literally have tiny content-making machines and publishers in their pocket. And that is a massive change for marketers, because we can influence the narrative, but we definitely can’t control it.”
According to Jacobs, Gen Z has been a leading consumer group pushing for more social consciousness from retailers. “The expectation of the consumer has changed, and so we as marketers must change with it.”
For her team, this has included “changes in everything from our hiring processes to the way we structure project teams, to our feedback processes and integration of our ERGs, to our casting and talent choices and our production process,” said Jacobs. “We’ve questioned almost every step of our marketing process to set ourselves up in the best way to deliver an end result that is reflective of the incredibly diverse community we serve.”
Recent campaigns that Jacobs’ team has overseen include Sephora’s new “Why I Made This,” spotlighting the stories of beauty brand founders including Danessa Myricks of her eponymous brand, Diarrha N’Diaye of Ami Cole and Olamide Olowe of Topicals. They’ve also led the expansion of Sephora’s “Hearts not Hate” campaign to include Instagram Live talks on the issue of combating online hate and harassment.
“The generation in front of us has high expectations. They put pressure on brands and companies to challenge injustices, they want to give a voice to the under-represented and dismantle industry biases, and they are connected, empowered and informed in a way that enables them to truly make a difference,” said Jacobs.
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