Sephora and TikTok, in partnership with the marketing agency Digitas, announced on Monday a new initiative, dubbed the Sephora x TikTok Incubator Program. The program aims to help young brands become more successful on TikTok and more fluent in working with influencers on partnerships. Its pilot will kick off with three BIPOC-founded brands, all of which completed Sephora’s accelerate program in 2021. They include Eadem, Topicals and Hyper Skin.
The program will take place over three sessions — two over Zoom and one at TikTok’s New York City offices. To serve as brand mentors throughout the program, Sephora and TikTok tapped three established creators: Amy Chang (@bondenavant on TikTok, 1.6 million followers), Rocio Lopez-Jimenez (1.5 million followers) and Nyma Tang (164,000 followers on TikTok).
“People are surprised to learn that the creators are teaching an analytics module. But the best creators at this level understand data better than a lot of internal social media teams,” said Brent Mitchell, vp of marketing, social and influencer at Sephora.
Eadem, Topicals and Hyper Skin are currently active on TikTok; Topicals has 35,000 followers; Eadem has 49,000 and Hyper Skin has 1,500 followers.
Along with staff from TikTok, Digitas, and Sephora, the influencers-mentors will advise the brands on effectively creating content and partnering with content creators. “Session one [will be focused on] education around creating a TikTok strategy, and will include breakouts with the creator mentors and training from the TikTok team,” said Mitchell. The second session will be more about “building a bigger TikTok plan,” he said.
“This is where the TikTok and Digitas teams will talk about developing holistic marketing plans and using TikTok to feed into an overall plan, not just that one post at a time,” Mitchell said.
“TikTok can feel intimidating for an older millennial, like me. I consume a lot of content, but would love to join the party,” said Eadem co-founder Marie Kouadio Amouzame.
Topicals founder Olamide Olowe said, “TikTok is one of the top search engines on the internet for beauty, and it’s a mix of education and entertainment. Topicals can benefit from this program because we are getting in-depth learnings on building a successful strategy.”
Chang, Lopez-Jimenez and Tang won’t be creating content for the brands themselves. For that, the incubator’s organizers tapped “community creators.” The group of smaller, primarily BIPOC influencers will be creating content for the three brands, allowing them to execute their learnings from the program. Their role will take place during the program’s third and final module. Each brand will exit the program with six pieces of content. Sephora did not confirm or deny if the partnerships were paid, but said that “the program [would be] mutually beneficial to the Accelerate brand founders and content creators.”
“The [number of] community creators that wanted to be a part of this was overwhelming. Hundreds of people wanted to participate in this way with a brand. It’s an exciting opportunity for them to have this exposure and handholding from the TikTok creator management teams and also the exposure to Sephora,” Mitchell said.
Sephora has no plans to communicate about the program on its public-facing feeds, but it does plan to post the resulting content on its social accounts.
The program will not be a one-time thing, said Mitchell. It will be repeated every quarter with three new accelerate brands that have launched at Sephora.
For Sephora, the goal is to help the brands level-up their content, while also shining a light on BIPOC-founded brands and BIPOC creators, Mitchell said.
“It directly ties back to our day-in, day-out goals for Sephora social and TikTok, which are to lift up underrepresented voices in beauty and diversity of all kinds,” he said. “And TikTok is an absolute phenomenon for driving business results in the industry, so we’re excited to have an impact on the #BeautyTok community.”