Sephora is quietly identifying the latest generation of niche brands and poised to increase brand awareness for them.With a new program called Scouted by Sephora, the retailer is highlighting the brands it believes will be the next big things. Their common denominators: All are niche brands, all have limited, if any, brand awareness in North America, and all have stood out to Sephora merchants.“It’s a new platform, but its roots are classic Sephora,” said Deborah Yeh, senior vice president of marketing and brands for Sephora. “It brings to life the ways we help customers find new beauty brands. Our consumers are very open to finding new brands, and we pride ourselves on bringing those new brands to market. It’s a way to enhance discovery for our consumers.” It also has a reason closer to home: “It helps us identify key trends and market them in a compelling way,” she said, pointing to sheet masks as a recent example.The idea came about after Sephora’s national sales conference last year, which featured a showcase of interesting indies, said Yeh, noting that the retailer’s merchants “started to get excited about a number of different brands that they felt didn’t have a broad awareness among U.S. consumers.”Thus far, Sephora has identified 40 niche brands that will be highlighted during the program and more are on the horizon, added Yeh. “We’re already getting traction on the idea and it’s something we plan as an ongoing program,” she said.Eight to 10 brands will be highlighted every other month. The current offerings include Viseart, Tatcha, Juliette has a Gun (fragrance), Makeup Eraser, Reverie, Cinema Secrets, Sunday Riley and Skin Inc. The next installation is planned for late October and will have a global theme. "Each of the brands has a unique story and we look forward to pulling back the curtain to share these inside views and introduce consumers to these brands,” said Yeh.The animation around the program will largely be online, said Yeh, but most of the brands have some store presence in Sephora as well. A landing page on sephora.com will serve as a central location for the program and the retailer also plans direct e-mail to beauty insiders, social media and digital advertising and marketing to beauty influencers, said Yeh.The move follows a series of Sephora marketing programs, including a new subscription box offering and a virtual makeup application focusing on contouring.
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