Sephora Debuts Social Shopping With Instagram

Just as other brands are backing away from social media’s toxicity, Sephora is diving in deeper, announcing a major social-commerce initiative with Instagram.

The beauty retailer has some 20 million Instagram followers and says the new checkout includes 80 brands, including Drunk Elephant, Milk Makeup, the Sephora Collection and Shani Darden Skin Care. People can buy products directly from their feed or stories, providing a connected buying experience.

In the retailer’s announcement, Carolyn Bojanowski, Sephora’s senior vice president and general manager of ecommerce, describes the new initiative as a “seamless, direct and secure way to shop across our brands’ accounts, while still getting the perks of being a Sephora client.”

The launch comes as retailers everywhere are wondering what it will take to coax consumers back into physical stores. And beauty stores have special challenges. New research from Influentster says that 24% of the consumers it surveyed say they don’t plan on returning to physical stores for beauty products, as concerns about the pandemic continue.



Beyond virus fears, COVID-19 shutdowns have sparked massive changes in people’s approach to beauty, with 46% saying they haven’t been styling their hair in quarantine, 47% saying they are wearing less makeup, and 21% saying they are using no cosmetics at all.

Fragrance, however, is holding up better, with 69% saying they are still wearing their signature scent at home, and that it provides a reassuring sense of normalcy.

While in-store beauty sales are under pressure, Instagram and parent Facebook are under fire for different reasons, with anti-hate groups urging marketers to boycott both brands for July. Companies including The North Face, REI, Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s were among the first to join the boycott, organized by the Anti-Defamation League.

Verizon has just announced it, too, would “pause” Facebook and Instagram advertising until the platforms find a way to handle misinformation and racist postings.

A Sephora spokesperson declined to comment on its decision to partner with Instagram.

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