The Groundbreakers: The executives behind key changes at influential companies
VP of skincare merchandising, Sephora
Just ahead of Valentine’s Day 2022, Sephora announced its expansion into sexual wellness. Behind this historic push was Cindy Deily, the company’s vp of skin-care merchandising.
Merchandised on Sephora.com as “Intimate Care” within Sephora’s bath and body category, the inaugural curation from brands Maude and Dame included 30 products across vibrators, massage candles, bath products and lubricants. Deily, who has been at Sephora nearly 17 years in multiple roles, said she was overwhelmed by the strong response the launch received from the beauty industry, media and customers. Deily also oversees the Clean at Sephora program. She declined to share sales stats for the new category, but said marketing emails regarding the expansion experienced “some of the highest” click-through rates ever and that “vibrator” was the No. 1 search term on Sephora.com during the following week. While she said there are many in-store opportunities for intimate care moving forward, she declined to share specific plans.
What drove the launch of intimate wellness?
“Our key driving motivation was to support this idea of empowerment, de-stigmatization and self-care. That idea is the antithesis of how this category has been presented in the past to consumers, and women in particular, including the imagery and language used. There was this idea that it is taboo, that you shouldn’t talk about it and that it needs to be hidden.”
Do you think retailers should play a role in pushing cultural boundaries or bringing conversations into the zeitgeist?
“Some of the cultural conversations that began in 2016 were [in response to] ways women are treated in society. That was an earlier inspiration for Sephora, in considering what [those conversations] mean beyond politics, in women’s daily lives. We have a long history of giving our customers what they’re looking for, introducing new trends and incubating brands. We’ve built trust with customers and, with that, we have a responsibility to push into new ideas. They’re looking for us to not only create the product, but also to validate concepts and conversations [like sexual wellness].”
What is the status of Clean at Sephora, and what comes next?
“Sephora is a big and influential voice in the beauty industry, and we have a real obligation to push this industry to do better, when it comes to our collective environmental footprint and the way we’re doing business. The success of the Clean at Sephora program and the industry change it inspired gave us the confidence to know that, if we built something meaningful and set the bar high enough, the industry would go there with us. Our sustainability program, Clean + Planet Positive, hit its first anniversary in July. It launched with 18 brands, and by the time we get to next year, the brand count in the program will have doubled. That’s not a result of just new brands launching at Sephora, but also existing brands that are working really hard to make changes to earn that badge.”
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