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Sephora exec: Pinterest shoppers 15X more valuable than Facebook

NEW YORK – A Sephora executive at the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2014 last week said that Pinterest’s lucrative sales leads was one of several factors in rolling out its own shoppable user-generated mobile platform earlier this year.

During the “Evolution of Digital Marketing and Commerce with Inspiring and Educational Content” session, the Sephora executive pinpointed loyalty and content as two of the biggest priorities underpinning its current mobile strategy. Most recently, the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy-owned brand rolled out a mobile and Web feature called Beauty Board that was largely fueled by the rise in mobile photo-sharing and shopping on platforms including Pinterest and Instagram.

“Everybody knows how successful Pinterest has been — Sephora’s Pinterest shoppers are actually 15 percent more valuable than our Facebook leads,” said Johnna Marcus, director of digital business development at Sephora, San Francisco.

“We know that people are shopping on Pinterest, but any picture, any pin, can only go to one product,” she said. “[Beauty Board] lets you pin as many products make sense.”

Building up digital beauty chops
Inspiration and education content is front and center in Sephora’s iPhone application, which includes editorial reviews, trends, video and a social-photo program called Beauty Board.

With Beauty Board, photos of looks can be uploaded, tagged with Sephora’s products and then shopped or added to a wish list (see story).

Per Ms. Marcus, Beauty Board was built to position Sephora as a place to learn and get information on trends. Content uploaded is a mixture of loyalty members and Sephora staffers.

Only Sephora’s Beauty Insider loyalty program members can upload content, meaning that the retailer is able to leverage purchase history and bookmarked items called “loves.”

Since launching about a month ago, 47 percent of visits and 33 percent of uploads are from a smartphone.

Tablets bring in 9 percent of visits and 23 percent of uploads. Desktops make up the remaining 44 percent of traffic and photo uploads.

Forty-six percent of Beauty Board photos are tagged with at least one product.

Beauty Board fits into a bigger mobile and social strategy for Sephora that is heavy on visual platforms including Instagram and Pinterest.

Sephora uses Pinterest for trend stories, which include how-to’s and products. On the other hand, Instagram is used to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at all of the brand’s happenings.

“[Beauty Board] fills a different role,” Ms. Marcus said. “It’s very much more how-to and inspirational.”

Another example of how Sephora is driving repeat app traffic for more than just shopping is a program called Sephora Shares, which is a partnership with Apple’s iTunes and gives away vetted free content including music, apps and books.

For example, Sephora recently sponsored the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, CA. As part of its sponsorship, a 19-song playlist of summer music festival music was pushed out to Sephora’s mobile app.

A Facebook post promoting Beauty Board

Mobile by the numbers
Sephora’s six year-old Beauty Insider loyalty program has accumulated 13 million members, with digital playing a key role in how shoppers access their cards and past purchases.

During the 2013 holiday season, mobile sales grew by more than 200 percent year-over-year. Mobile sales increased by 150 percent between 2012 and 2011.

Tablets in particular are proving to be conversion machines, with a 300 percent year-over-year increase in sales this past Thanksgiving Day (see story).

Additionally, Android ownership is on the uptick, which caused Sephora to roll out its first Android app at the end of last year.

Sephora reports that mobile now makes up 50 percent of Web traffic, 36 percent of which comes from smartphones.

When it comes to what shoppers are doing on mobile, 87 percent of Sephora’s consumers want to use mobile to shop on the go, 62 percent intend to use it in-store and 60 percent plan to pre-shop using their devices.

Getting these consumers to shop on multiple platforms is a lucrative opportunity for Sephora. Mobile, online and in-store shoppers are four times more valuable than any one medium, and they spend more in each experience.

Sephora is also working on incorporating more digital initiatives into the in-store experience.

“[There is a] lot of conversations about beacons today, [and] a lot of conversations about local today,” Ms. Marcus said. “It’s definitely a space that we’re really thinking about and trying to be more proactive [in].

“Prior to that, in the last year, we’ve rolled out a lot of strategies in both employee training and signage in our stores to teach our customers that she can use her phone for a handful of activities,” she said.

Final Take
Johnna Marcus is director of digital business development at Sephora, San Francisco