Daily Insights

The Ulta-mate Showdown

By: Cassidy.McGrain@gartner.com | Aug 22, 2019

Beauty retailers Sephora and Ulta landed the top two spots of this year’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty RetailSephora, the sole Genius brand for the past six years, continues its reign at the top while Ulta claims the second spot in Gartner L2’s ranking, with a 13% score increase since last year. 

Ulta hosts 595 distinct brands online, compared to Sephora’s 362, and has added over 100 new brands since last summer. The former not only offers variety to its customers, but affordability. In fact, the price of a skincare product on Ulta’s site is on average $10 less than that of Sephora’s. Ulta also owns more physical retail locations than Sephora, with plans to open 80 new stores in 2019.

To top it off, Ulta launched buy online, pickup in store — a capability that Sephora still does not offer. Young beauty enthusiasts have responded: Ulta won over Sephora as Gen Z’s favorite beauty retailer in 2019 for the first time ever in the 37th installment of Piper Jaffray’s Teens survey.

As such, more customers downloaded Ulta’s mobile app than Sephora’s in the past year, and the app saw 53% growth in monthly average users year over year. A difference that Gen Z is sure to notice: Ulta offers coupons based on inputted consumer preferences, releasing them within the mobile app before including them on its site.