Sephora (And Rihanna), Ulta Make Big Gains

Beauty isn’t just its own excuse for being: It continues as one of the few retail segments that people are excited about. New research from YouGov BrandIndex, which tracks consumer perception, reports that Sephora, which has been riding high on Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, made substantial gains in five key female perception metrics so far this year, including purchase consideration, buzz, quality, impression and word-of-mouth.

In its first month following the September launch, Tribe Dynamics reports that the singer’s Fenty Beauty line, sold at Sephora, generated a cool $72 million in earned media value, ranking third. It beat out other buzzy brands, including NYX, Benefit and Urban Decay.

And YouGov says that the Thanksgiving launch of Fenty’s Stunna, a lip-paint that’s had the beauty world salivating in anticipation, may have played a role in Sephora jumping to 24% in purchase consideration, from 16% the month before, the highest it’s been in a year. (It’s also one of the biggest gains among all 1,600 brands tracked by the index.) Stunna comes in just one shade, called Uncensored, and promises to be the unicorn of color cosmetics — a vivid red that looks great on every single skin tone.



In its most recent quarterly results, luxury giant LVMH said its selective retailing group, which includes Sephora, saw sales gains of 12%, adding that the beauty chain is continuing its store renovations, seeing e-commerce improvements, and experimenting with new — and more digital — store formats in Spain.

Ulta, Sephora’s fast-growing U.S. rival, just announced more surging sales. For the third quarter, the Bolingbrook, Ill.-based retailer says net sales soared 18.6% to $1.34 billion, despite some sales lost to hurricane season. Same-store results jumped 10.3%, and e-commerce sales grew 62.9% to $119.8 million. Net income gained almost 20% to $104.6 million. For the quarter ahead, it’s predicting same-store sales gains of between 8 and 10%.

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