More than 125 brands are expected to be included, 75 percent of which are exclusive to Sephora and Sephora at Kohl’s. In color cosmetics, Charlotte Tilbury, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Urban Decay, Ilia and Milk are in the mix; in skin care, brands include Tatcha, Drunk Elephant, Kate Somerville, Sol de Janeiro, The Ordinary, The Inky List and Fresh; hair care includes Briogeo, Bumble and bumble and Olaplex, and fragrance includes Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Gucci, Giorgio Armani and Maison Margiela. Celebrity brands like Fenty Beauty and Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez are going in, as are influencer brands like Summer Fridays and Makeup by Mario, plus larger players including Estée Lauder, Lancôme, Clinique and Nars.
Overall, the brands will be presented in their entirety rather than with a cherry-picked assortment; the stores will also include multibranded areas, including one for clean products and another with minis. All purchases will be eligible for Sephora Beauty Insider points.
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“The reaction from the brands was outstanding — it speaks to the business opportunity they see, but also the cultural fit,” said Artemis Patrick, executive vice president and global chief merchandising officer at Sephora. “Kohl’s has a highly educated consumer on beauty and we want to give those shoppers the best of the best.”
While historically prestige beauty brands have been hesitant to cross channels that blur the lines between prestige and mass distribution, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the democratization of distribution, with brands and retailers seeking new ways to extend their reach and broaden their consumer bases. As previously reported, Ulta Beauty and Target inked a partnership late last year as well to bring prestige brands into the mass retailer.
“This partnership is strategic on both sides,” said Tiffany Masterson, founder, president and chief creative officer of Drunk Elephant. “Kohl’s customers will have access to an array of new beauty brands and Sephora will significantly expand its retail footprint…a good thing for both parties.”
Sephora at Kohl’s is launching in 200 Kohl’s doors in 2021, with 850 doors planned by 2023. The first stores will open in August, with the concept expected to be in 29 states by yearend, including in stores in Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Minneapolis, Ohio and Wisconsin. In-store installations will measure about 2,500 square feet and the category mix will mirror that of stand-alone Sephora doors.
The entire beauty assortment will launch on kohls.com on Aug. 1, and products will be available for buy online, pick up in store in all locations.
“What I’m most pleased about is the balance of the assortment — the really well-established brands combined with the excitement of the emerging brands,” said Doug Howe, CMO of Kohl’s. “The power of Sephora and the incredibly strong relationship they have with the brands gives us the confidence that this is going to work.”
Howe noted that searches on kohls.com show a customer base that is beauty savvy, but he’s also excited about the potential to attract new shoppers.
“There’s a tremendous amount of beauty searches on kohls.com and they are quite tuned in,” he said, “but we think there is a very large new customer opportunity as well.
“There’s not a huge overlap of existing Kohl’s customers with Sephora customers,” he continued. “We have over 65 million active customers, so exposing them to the breadth and depth of the assortment will be amazing.”
For their part, brands are eager to tap into those numbers. “As our exclusive North American retailer, Sephora has been instrumental to Tatcha’s continued growth and success since our partnership began nearly a decade ago through their Accelerate program,” said Vicky Tsai, the brand’s founder and chief executive officer. “With 90 percent of American consumers now being within 10 miles of a Kohl’s location, we look forward to continue being of service to our clients across the U.S. through an expanded retail footprint.”
Neither brand would share sales goals, but Masterson did note, “We don’t know what to expect with regard to growth, as it’s a new model, but we know we’ll reach a new customer and that’s always exciting and promising.…Expanding into so many new Kohl’s stores with Sephora will take that partnership to the next level.”