For Ulta Beauty, making an impact starts with maintaining a human connection both with its customers and with its team of sales associates, which spans roughly 40,000 employees nationwide.
While accepting the second annual Pete Born Impact Award for the retailer, chief merchandising and marketing officer, Dave Kimbell, shared a touching anecdote about one of their male sales associates, Casey.
“His previous employer told him he could no longer wear makeup while he was at work and he would have to find a new job, so of course it was a tough day for him,” he said to the crowd of honorees and industry executives. “Like many of us might do, he decided to get ice cream, but unfortunately when he got to the shop the employees ridiculed him for wearing makeup and made him feel worse. Then Casey came into an Ulta Beauty store just to be around what made him happy, which is beauty and all things makeup, and a sales associate approached him and said one simple thing to him which was, ‘you are beautiful.’ The great news is Casey just celebrated his one-year anniversary at Ulta Beauty and credits his fellow associates for transforming his impressions of kindness and inclusivity.”
Kimbell also recognized Ulta Beauty’s brand partners, community and guests as core components contributing to the retailer’s success. With its customers, Ulta Beauty has seen that connecting emotionally has helped it stand out among a competitive retail environment.
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“In an increasingly complex and frankly depersonalized world, beauty is still a great place where people want to connect emotionally and in a way that allows them to really press themselves to be connected to the world around them,” he said. “We recently took the next step in our brand communication journey to celebrate the meaning and power of beauty while also exploring possibilities in people and removing some of the limits that are sometimes placed on beauty.”
He also highlighted Ulta’s commitment to giving back, most notably its recent donation of $5.5 million to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, bringing the retailer’s total donation to the organization to $27.5 million since starting its partnership in 2009.
Before awards were distributed, Karen Moon, cofounder and chief executive officer of Trendalytics gave a presentation that highlighted key trends in the beauty industry. Moon started by focusing on the increasingly popular wellness category, which has grown 13 percent annually for the past two years, reaching $4.2 trillion.
“It’s not just a trend, it’s a paradigm shift,” she said. “The definition of beauty is expanding because consumers are not just looking for products, but they’re looking for holistic solutions that allow them to beautify from the inside out.”
She also noted that the consumer mindset toward drugs has shifted, primarily toward cannabidiol (CBD)-infused beauty products. Moon stated that as consumers look to CBD products as a source of self-improvement and self-enlightenment, the industry is going to see a proliferation of brands utilizing the ingredient.
Moon ended the presentation by stating that co-creation, or crowdsourcing for consumer insights, is one of the best ways to satisfy customer demands.
“The digital revolution has changed how the most innovative companies are thinking about product development,” she said. “All brands should have some element of co-creation in their company DNA because Millennials don’t want you to tell them what to buy, they’re telling you what to make.”
Here, a full list of this year’s winners:
Product of the Year, Prestige: Shiseido Makeup (color cosmetics), Beauty Bio (skin care), Hair Rituel By Sisley Paris (hair care), KKW Fragrance (fragrance)
Product of the Year, Mass: Maybelline New York Tattoo Studio (color cosmetics), C&C by Clean & Clear (skin care), TRESemmé Compressed Micro-Mist (hair)
Brand of the Year: Benefit (prestige), Olay (mass)
Launch of the Year: Westman Atelier (prestige), Seed Phytonutrients (specialty)
Retailer of the Year: CVS
E-Tailer of the Year: Cult Beauty
The Wellness Award: The Detox Market
Newcomer of the Year: Billie
Indie of the Year: Huda Beauty
Corporate Social Responsibility: Beautycounter
Influencer of the Year: Jackie Aina
Collab of the Year: Dove x Dunkin’
Newsmaker of the Year: Debra Perelman, chief executive officer of Revlon
Merchandiser of the Year: Christina Hennington, senior vice president of merchandising at Target
Brand Builder of the Year: Stéphane de la Faverie, global brand president of Estée Lauder (prestige), Ukonwa Ojo, global chief marketing officer at Coty for Covergirl and Sally Hansen (mass)
Digital Innovator of the Year: Fenty Beauty by Rihanna
Transformational Deal of the Year: L’Oréal’s acquisition of Modiface
Disruptor of the Year: Moj Mahdara, chief executive officer of Beautycon
The Founder’s Award: Vicky Tsai, founder of Tatcha
The Impact Award: Ulta Beauty