Sephora chief tells marketers to ‘differentiate’ brands: DMA2010

Calling Sephora’s US e-commerce site “our biggest store in the world,” the chief executive of the global beauty brand and multichannel retailer cautioned the audience at the DMA 2010 Conference & Exhibition to “differentiate” their brands to succeed in marketing.

“We are a global retailer but also a global brand,” said Jacques Levy, the global chairman and CEO of Sephora. “As a retailer, we have to work on our stores, products and services to differentiate ourselves.”

Before joining Sephora in 2003 as CEO of Sephora Europe, Levy worked in executive positions at other well-known retailers and global brands, such as Staples International and The Walt Disney Company.

Levy credited exclusive products and unique store layouts and services, like “brow bars,” for success in differentiating the Sephora brand from the likes of department store counters.

“The customer should come to our store and then come [back] and come and come,” he said. “We’ve invested millions in mirrors in our stores. The loyalty is about the store experience.”

Owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), Sephora has nearly 1,500 stores around the globe in 25 countries, as well as e-commerce in the US, France, Brazil and China. A revamped online store with multi-language and currency options is rolling out in Europe this week. In its most recent earnings, LVMH said, “Sephora performed exceptionally well and strengthened its position in all of its markets. It sustained its growth momentum on a comparable store basis and online sales have continued to grow rapidly.” Total sales for the LVMH Selective Retailing business group, which includes Sephora, are up 14% in the first half of 2010 to $3.36 billion.

Levy credited a consistent tone and messaging in the brand’s various marketing initiatives, including outdoor campaigns, TV and print ads, in-store visual merchandizing, direct mail, e-mail and CRM.

“We have 20 million loyal customers,” he said. “We address our customers every day, every week through CRM…our CRM approach adopts the message, the offer.”

Levy also noted the company has a “very strong data investment,” saying the company can identify 75% of the people behind purchases in its stores in France.

“We know when they came, when they didn’t,” he said. “We know our customers very well.”

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