Held in a virtual format for the second year in a row, Sephora’s annual Sephoria event last week was the latest example of a beauty company leaning into the metaverse.
With 16,000 attendees globally, this year’s September 18 event added an NFT giveaway and more interactive games to the virtual “house party” format unveiled in 2021.
Like last year, attendees could click through a series of virtual “rooms” where they could view livestreamed masterclasses and participate in games to collect redeemable tokens. By popular demand, the number of games was increased this year, and users were allowed to redeem five tokens for 500 points in Sephora’s Beauty Insider loyalty program.
Jess Stacey, Sephora svp of external communications, event and experiential marketing, said demand remains high for virtual events.
“We knew when we started planning for 2022 that we had a really great foundation and a great proof case” after 2021, which drew 5,000 attendees, she said. “We heard loud and clear that our customers were very excited for us to come back and create another iteration in 2022.”
Also added this year was an NFT giveaway for participants, which Sephora marks as its foray into metaverse-related marketing. Users created a total of 8,000 digital wallets to collect their NFTs, and 6,500 NFTs were sent using the Polygon blockchain.
“It was very important that the NFTs were free for any customer to be able to collect,” said Stacey.
Sephoria initially launched as an in-person event in 2018. It was held again in 2019 before going on hiatus when the pandemic hit. In 2021, it returned for the first time in virtual form.
Live-streamed and pre-recorded video events with brands, influencers and beauty founders were the most popular feature, and the Sephora Collection masterclass was the leader in views. Danessa Myricks, Patrick Starrr and Gwen Stefani were among the founders appearing in videos, which featured a live chat for the audience. Among the games, the Tetris-like “Pressy pile up” game saw the most plays.
“Sharing our tips and tricks while engaging on the live chat really resonated,” said Myricks, makeup artist and founder of Danessa Myricks Beauty, who participated in a live-streamed class for the event. Users were able to participate in livestreams through an attached chat feature. “Although it was digital, the energy was high and the love was real. It was a lovefest between our exciting customers, and a beautiful, fun and engaging way to be introduced to new potential customers of the brand,” she said. The brand used the event to debut a new palette. It generated record-breaking sales in the palette category for the brand, she said.
Gwen Stefani also appeared in a video promoting her brand GXVE Beauty. “Sephoria’s virtual conference was a great opportunity for GXVE Beauty to engage with Sephora’s makeup-obsessed audience and to drive further brand love and connection to our founder, Gwen,” said the brand’s chief commercial officer, Lindsey Roggentien.
Multiple brands used the event to share new product launches. For Starrr’s video presentation, the influencer-turned-founder of One/Size promoted the brand’s newly launched Disney “Fantasia” collab. Amber Placke, vp of sales and accounts at One/Size, said that the brand “had strong marketing and social exposure, as well as increased brand awareness via Sephoria.”
Both physical and virtual events aren’t going anywhere, according to Stacey. Sephora is planning to combine IRL and virtual aspects for Sephoria 2023.
“As we’re thinking about how we’re evolving our experiential strategy, we certainly want to be able to ensure that we can provide attendees with the flexibility to attend how they would like, whether it is in the virtual space or whether it is live. We certainly see hybrid, as it relates to Sephoria, being the path forward as we go into 2023,” she said.