Sephora has always been more than a pretty face; the beauty chain started a revolution in France by moving beauty products out from behind the counter, wresting their control from sales assistants.
Sephora now dominates the retail sector for beauty in stores and online; its unique selection has even helped it fend off Amazon—for now—according to a 2016 report from L2. Sephora parent company, luxury conglomerate LVMH, singled out Sephora's success in its 2016 report, which highlighted the launch of online stores in six new countries last year.
But Sephora's latest creation, the Beauty Insider Community, is one of its most savvy moves yet. Beauty vloggers earn serious ad dollars from tutorials, Instagram influencers take home a small fortune in sponsored content, and beauty fans spend hours asking and answering questions on beauty subreddits. With its Beauty Insider Community, Sephora brings these people inside its domain, where they can share tips, ask questions, and—most importantly—buy more Sephora products in one place.
Beauty Insider is free to join. Fill out a brief profile for entry into the walled, glittery garden. The community is divvied up into Groups, Conversations, and Gallery. Groups is for those who live the hashtag life and want to focus on specific interests (skincare, hair, lips). Conversations is where beauty insiders post tips, ask for advice, and even vent about being labelled a "rookie" on the new platform. Anyone who has been on the wrong side of the SkincareAddiction subreddit knows what a powerful thing community can be.
But the real power of the Beauty Insider Community resides in its Gallery, which looks a lot like Instagram.
Browse row after row of snaps and videos from Beauty Insiders sporting custom makeup looks. Beauty Insiders can link to their own YouTube tutorial or write up their steps so others can get the same look. But each shot has a carousel of the products used, all of which are for sale on Sephora, of course. You no longer have to ask about lipstick color or mascara brand in Instagram comments or swipe up to shop.
With a few quick clicks, a cart can be filled—and a credit card maxed out. A coppery fall look, for example, will cost you some serious gold coin: $466. While members of the Beauty Insider Community adopt a sugary tone familiar to those who frequent fashion and beauty communities ("Hi, ladies!"), Sephora knows that to be the most popular, you should probably also have the most cash.