This week, I report on the new Sephora partnership with Proven and the retail opportunity for customized beauty. Scroll down to use Glossy+ Comments, giving the Glossy+ community the opportunity to join discussions around industry topics.
Sephora is stepping into personalized beauty, partnering with skin-care brand Proven to make it possible.
Sephora is the first retail partner for Proven, which launched in 2019 with a trio of a cleanser, an SPF daytime moisturizer and a night cream for about $200, or $129.99 with a subscription. It has since expanded to daytime and nighttime eye creams. The trio will be sold through Sephora for a lower price, at $169.99 — or $129.99 with a subscription, as usual. At the outset, Proven will sell through Sephora.com before expanding to the retailer’s brick-and-mortar stores in fall 2023.
Proven is distributed across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The brand took part in Sephora’s Accelerate program in 2018, before the brand launch in 2019. Sephora’s Accelerate Program has been a fertile ground for the retailer to discover new brands to add to store. Since reformatting its approach in 2021, it’s placed all involved brands on its shelves.
“The [added] significance of Proven’s partnership with Sephora is that this is the first time that skin-care personalization is launching into a [prestige] retailer,” said Ming Zhao, co-founder and CEO of Proven. “We believe that everything that touches our bodies or goes inside our bodies will eventually be personalized. We’re starting with the skin-care space.”
Zhao said the online Sephora experience mirrors the Proven e-commerce one, with the same underlying technology and personalization features. Customers can locate Proven on the Sephora website and click through to be redirected to Proven’s website to take a three-minute co-branded quiz. Questions center on main skin issues and the level of concern for each one, as well as the customer’s age, skin type, diet and hydration. Customers can import their Sephora Insider-associated email to receive their personalized formula and complete a purchase, while also receiving Sephora Insider points.
Proven’s Sephora information page includes testimonials from Proven customers, photos of products, and two one-minute informational videos about the quiz and the science behind Proven. Much like Proven’s own e-commerce offering, people who subscribe to receive Proven products every two months will receive 23% off each refill and earn Beauty Insider points.
“At Sephora, our clients are the heart of all that we do, and we know the demand for personalization in the beauty space is at an all-time high,” said Brooke Banwart, svp of skin-care merchandising at Sephora. “We are also very thoughtful and intentional when selecting partners. We look for brands that deliver on product and have the science and technology to back it up.”
There are no details yet for how Proven will translate into the brick-and-mortar environment, but several retailers have already sought to embrace personalization in stores. Target brought in personalized hair-care brand Function of Beauty in Dec. 2020. It followed that up with supplements brand Care/of, with its own line of products in March 2021 and with Pure Culture beauty in Jan. 2022. For its part, CVS added Pure Culture to its stores in November 2022.
“The reason we wanted to do [a co-branded experience] is that there is a clear high demand for personalization from consumers, and even with multiple attempts, personalization in retail has not yet taken off,” said Zhao. “With Sephora, we were adamant that we did not compromise on our experience or water down the brand, which many personalized brands have to do when entering retail.”
The partnership will undoubtedly be a boon to Proven and its growing business. According to Proven’s 1-K filing in May 2022 for the 2021 fiscal year, Proven revenue increased by approximately 116% to nearly $21 million. The increase in revenue was primarily due to an increase in customers. Operating expenses increased by about 155%, with the majority spent on digital marketing expenses, increases in headcount and human resource expenses. To a lesser extent, increases in research and development expenses were a factor.
In Sept. 2021, Proven announced it was offering company shares for sale to the general public via a Reg A+, under the name Life Spectacular Inc. Reg A+ is an exemption from certain SEC registration requirements that applies to public offerings of securities. In essence, retail investors can now purchase shares of the private company, something typically reserved for institutional investors. Under its Regulation A+ offering, Proven can raise up to $60 million from selling units priced at $6.60 each. The minimum investment was set at $990, or 150 units. As of July 25, 2022, the company had issued 250,270 units, according to a 1-SA filing. Additionally, Proven raised $8.3 million in a Series A funding round in Oct. 2021.
For Sephora, there is an added bonus to personalization, which is that it is widely regarded for its inclusive opportunities. Banwart expressed this attraction. Sephora has focused more on diversity and inclusivity since 2020 through dedicated investments and campaigns.
“When it comes to personalization, many clients crave an easy, in-store, face-to-face approach. We understand that and expect the personalized beauty offering to excite and engage our clients in a way they haven’t [experienced] within Sephora stores before,” said Banwart.
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