Ulta partners with Refinery29 on new Latinx channel

Ulta Beauty is upping its efforts to reach the 60 million Latinx consumers in the U.S.

On Wednesday, Ulta announced its partnership with Refinery29 to sponsor the site’s new R29Somos channel for the next year. English-language content on R29Somos will focus on Latinx visibility across culture, entertainment, beauty, and lifestyle. Ulta will be providing a range of editorial and video features for the site, including a spotlight of Gen-Z Latinx women, content on Afro-Latina hair culture and a Latinx beauty photo series. It will also be creating a four-episode video series called “Beauty Out There” about global beauty subcultures. Some content will drive to commerce on Ulta’s site. Some examples of the products highlighted in the first wave of content include Au Naturale’s powder blush in Champagne, Morphe’s James Charles palette and Tarte’s Face Tape in 60N Mahogany.

“It was a very natural partnership,” said Thatiana Diaz, a senior writer who contributes to Refinery29 and R29Somos, of the site’s relationship with Ulta. “They understand that the Latinx community represents a major source of growth for the beauty industry. If you look at the Latinx purchasing power, especially in the beauty industry, this is a very untapped market.”

According to a 2015 study by Nielsen, Hispanic consumers make up 16% of total beauty sales in the U.S. But a recent Refinery29 study found that two-thirds of women of color still feel underrepresented in media and 40% do not see images that match their own perception of beauty. 

“We think about ourselves as a diversity-forward brand,” said Ulta Beauty CMO Shelley Haus. Ulta was also one of the first sponsors of Refinery29’s Unbothered channel for black millennial women, and Haus said that the company’s R29Somos partnership “will have a very similar approach” to the one with Unbothered. 

Ulta Beauty has adopted additional marketing strategies to engage with Latinx consumers, including advertising in Spanish through partners like Telmundo, as well as partnering with media company mitú and Popsugar Latina in 2019. In July 2019, it launched a Frida Kahlo Ulta Signature Box. According to Ulta’s brand tracker data, it saw a 21-percentage point increase for unaided brand awareness among the Latinx demographic from 2016-2019.

“Over the last 10 years, you’ve definitely seen a much more consistent strategy [with multicultural beauty marketing,] where now it’s not just a trend,” said Desiree Reid, the founder and president of beauty consultancy Desiree Reid & Co. According to her, “for many years, it felt like a trend. It was in and it was out; people launched the brands and then they kind of went to the wayside.”

Following the launch of Fenty Beauty, inclusivity in product shading grew among beauty brands, with “40 shades” becoming the new industry standard. Reid said that “the product is probably the easiest part” of a multicultural marketing effort, and brands need to focus on “building the community and getting your message across to them.” She noted that conglomerates are looking to acquire multicultural brands, as in the case of Unilever’s acquisition of Shea Moisture. “Big brands are not buying your product; big brands are buying your community,” she said.

Reid also tells her clients that the Latinx customer is not the same across the board. “There may be some overriding similarity, but as you get down to a more personalized approach, there still has to be some cultural relevance and differences that you have to take in consideration,” she said. “Don’t think one message will fit all Latinas in the U.S, because it really is not the case.”

Diaz noted that these different perspectives will be highlighted on R29Somos, stating “How I grew up as a Dominican and in New York isn’t the same as someone who grew up Mexican in Los Angeles or Cuban in Miami.”According to Haus, Ulta focuses heavily on personalization through data, utilizing info from its 34 million Ultamate Rewards loyalty program members to provide personalized product recommendations via targeted emails and advertising.

“What’s happened in the industry over the last 10 years is that data has given retailers and marketers a lot more information on their customer,” said Reid. “Brands realize that you have to build the community.”

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