Inkey List, a low-priced skincare brand started by brand builder Be for Beauty, is moving to the U.S. in a partnership with beauty giant Sephora, Women's Wear Daily reports.
The line includes products like Turmeric Moisturizer to Vitamin C Serum, each priced under $15. They will debut on Sephora online on April 19 and in 285 stores on April 26, WWD reports.
With the launch, Inkey, which currently sells through Cult Beauty, Feelunique and other retailers, is targeting makeup customers who aren't yet using serums, Be for Beauty co-founders Colette Newberry and Mark Curry told WWD. Sephora declined to comment on the partnership and Be for Beauty did not respond to a request for comment from Retail Dive.
For Sephora, adding Inkey List to the ranks is an indication that it's trying to broaden its customer base as it pushes for growth beyond its core prestige beauty buyer. Earlier this year, the retailer rolled out The Ordinary, a single-ingredient product line with affordable prices on items like face masks and cleansing wipes. Incremental launches of lower-end, yet on-trend products help Sephora veer into rival Ulta's territory, which has focused on offering both prestige and mass market brands.
That's paid off for Ulta. Earlier this month, that retailer reported soaring fourth quarter comps of 9.4%, up from 8.8% the year prior. E-commerce comps were also up a whopping 35.4%. Key to that growth, according to Ulta executives who spoke on a conference call with analysts following the news, are partnerships with digitally native brands like Morphe and Kylie cosmetics. Between 6% and 7% of Ulta's merchandise is exclusive, and executives are working on increasing those product offerings.
It's unclear whether Inkey will be exclusive to Sephora in the U.S., but courting young brands may attract new niche buyers. And as those customers grow up, they may also drift into Sephora's higher-priced core. Overall, the Sephora narrative in 2019 is still very much about catering to beauty enthusiasts with upscale experiences and high-end products. The beauty retailer will open 35 new stores in the U.S. this year and partner with OrangeTwist to add body, face and skin treatments to three of its upcoming California locations.
Sephora is also going all in for its most loyal customers. Last week, the retailer announced the launch of a new credit card program. Cardholders will receive credit card rewards in addition to the rewards earned through the retailer's already robust Beauty Insider loyalty program. That's in addition to steps it took in January and last August to add yet more perks to the Beauty Insider Program.
Sephora continues to sweeten the pot as competition in the space heats up from digitally native competitors. Glossier, for example, is now a unicorn to be reckoned with. The trendy online beauty brand this week announced it raised a fresh $100 million in a Series D funding round, which bumps up its valuation to $1.2 billion. That brand has grown a loyal following by preaching a closer relationship with customers and a sense of community.