Shelley Haus, CMO of Ulta Beauty, believes the crux of her job is to craft aspirational goals for her team and inspire them in both big and small ways.
Some of these big goals over the last 12 months have spanned marketing support for shop-in-shops within Target and expanding Ulta Beauty’s DE&I work, all while navigating the residual impacts of Covid-19. Notably, Ulta Beauty announced in Sept. 2021 a new program called MUSE, which stands for “magnify, uplift, support and empower.” The program honors and provides grants to 100 Black people in beauty who are making significant impacts toward diversity, equity and inclusion. According to Haus, MUSE earned Ulta Beauty 30 standalone press stories garnering a staggering 370 million impressions.
“Our work is grounded in shaping how the world sees and experiences beauty. Simply put, there’s no denying the significant impact Black voices have on the beauty industry,” she said.
As for Ulta Beauty’s growing partnership with Target, Haus said she doesn’t see a distinct difference between Ulta Beauty’s shop-in-shops and standalone stores, and that marketing must be “interconnected to unite the [omnichannel] touchpoints consistently.” According to Ulta Beauty’s 2021 fourth-quarter earnings, released in March, that interconnection is paying off. One million Ulta Beauty members have linked the retailer’s rewards program with Target’s, underscoring the omnichannel opportunities for shop-in-shop retail. Overall, Ulta Beauty has 37 million loyalty members. And according to Target’s 2021 fourth-quarter earnings, the first 100 Ulta Beauty shop-in-shops have averaged 2x sales compared to Target’s other departments. Target and Ulta Beauty will open at least 800 shop-in-shop locations over time, with 250 opening in 2022.
“Amid the consistent innovation across platforms, we also know a consumer journey is no longer linear. [Consumers] now expect hyper-relevant content served to them fluidly across their preferred platforms,” Haus said.
Some of the other preferred platforms Haus is referring to are Snapchat and Spotify. For example, Ulta Beauty was one of the first two brands to leverage Snapchat’s new shoppable AR beauty try-on filter in January. The same month, Ulta Beauty adopted Spotify’s call-to-action advertising feature to create more interactive digital audio ads. And Ulta Beauty announced during its investor day in Oct. 2021 that it would partner with Google to integrate its GlamLab virtual try-on tool for lipstick and eyeshadow within Google Search and YouTube. Ulta Beauty will also expand livestreaming and social selling; it first kicked off livestreaming on its website in 2020 and has since signed on with livestream-selling platform Supergreat, in July 2021.
With all of this in mind, Haus certainly has her work cut out for her, especially as Ulta Beauty diversifies the brands it sells. Notably, Fenty Beauty joined Ulta Beauty in March while Chanel Beauty was added in January. Overall, inclusive and sustainable brands have become a theme for the retailer. When it comes to 2022 operational focus areas, Ulta Beauty will expand marketing efforts around “action-based programming,” said Dave Kimbell, CEO of Ulta Beauty, during the company’s 2021 fourth-quarter earnings call in March.
“The sole purpose or ‘why’ of marketing remains intact, but the ‘how’ has vastly evolved. Today’s most dynamic marketer has a bigger toolkit than ever, which is equally exciting and daunting for leaders because it reflects how incredibly fluid the landscape has become,” said Haus. “To win in the future, marketers will need to understand the influence their brand can have and the impact they can make for its consumers.”
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