Charlotte Tilbury Sets Up Shop At Ulta

It’s not enough for Charlotte Tilbury Beauty to dominate the beauty business through TikTok, the metaverse, and its Charlotte-in-your-pocket app. The high-end viral brand is rolling into Ulta, too, expanding the “Darling”-dropping Brit’s influence deeper into America’s heartland.

Makeup artist Tilbury launched the company in 2013, and ten years on, it still generates devotion, with items like Magic Cream, a moisturizer, and Pillow Talk lipsticks achieving near-cult-like adoration.

In addition to the company’s website, mobile commerce and its own physical retail stores, the brand is already sold at Sephora and many department stores. Moving into 600 of Ulta’s 1,300 stores and onto its heavily shopped website represents a significant geographical and ecommerce expansion.

“Darlings, you manifested beauty magic! Charlotte’s beauty icons are on their way,” Ulta says in its announcement. “Charlotte Tilbury is the world’s #1 makeup artist and a skin expert. For over 30 years, she’s worked across red carpets, runways and editorials with global celebrities, creating award-winning, iconic skincare and trendsetting makeup to empower everyone, everywhere, to look and feel their most beautiful and confident.”

In 2020, Tilbury sold a majority stake in the company to the Barcelona-based Puig Group, which has ownership and license fragrance deals with such designers as Carolina Herrera and Paco Rabanne. That deal was reported at an estimated $1.2 billion.

For Ulta, welcoming Charlotte Tilbury also represents a major vote of confidence in the luxury category. And while the move comes when many consumers are thinking more about trading down than trading up, it looks like a safe bet, with sales of prestige beauty products defying the economic doubters.

Prestige beauty consumers “have proven their resilience time and again,” writes Larissa Jensen, Circana’s senior vice president and industry advisor for beauty, in its new report. “For the second consecutive year, prestige beauty’s growth in units sold outperformed the mass market and every other general merchandise and CPG industry tracked by Circana.”

Jensen chalks the gains up to two factors. First, affluent shoppers who crave Tilbury-esque levels of products, where lipsticks cost $35 each instead of $8 or so for a mass brand, are less stressed about money than other segments.

Second, even for shoppers with more economic constraints, “prestige beauty products have become the little luxuries in which consumers can invest to treat themselves. This mentality has proven to be a key driver of the strong performance happening across beauty categories, especially areas of the market that are experiencing premiumization.”

And, despite the Gen-Z might channeled in Beauty TikTok, Jensen also believes that the higher-end beauty brands that do the best are those sold in physical retail. “The in-store experience is prestige beauty’s point of difference, compared to the mass market,” she says. “Physical retail will be a significant growth driver across most beauty categories this year.”

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