Brands should consider how consumers shop on specialty retailers when evaluating distribution partners. Relative to other beauty categories for both Ulta and Sephora, hair represents a significantly smaller share of visits, yet shopping behavior differs on each.
In the first quarter of 2019, only 7% of Ulta.com’s page views and 3% of Sephora.com’s went to hair pages—an increase of less than 1% year over year on each according to Gartner L2’s report on the topic. In addition, hair-specific email campaigns only represented less than 5% of emails on each retailer between the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019. Discovery plays an important role in Sephora’s hair ecosystem, as the majority of consumers shop without a product or brand in mind. 49% of top-volume, hair-specific site traffic goes to nonbranded category pages, and 26% goes to discovery pages like Sephora’s hair quiz or travel-size product category page.
Brands distributing on Sephora should also consider investing in travel-size products or kits to encourage product trials and gain placement on the “mini size” category page, one of the retailer’s most-visited hair pages. Compared to Sephora shoppers, more shoppers go to Ulta with brands or products already in mind. 45% of top-volume, hair-specific traffic goes to brand or product pages, while only 4% of traffic goes to discovery-focused pages like the retailer’s hair quiz or product guides. Given the variations in consumer shopping behavior on each retailer, brands should outline media strategies accordingly. On Sephora, brands should consider investing in on-platform media catered to helping with product discovery. In contrast, brands distributing on Ulta should understand that scaled brand awareness campaigns may be necessary to influence consumer decisions before they come to the retailer.