With a decline in beauty influencer trust (Kowalewicz 2020) and consumers increasingly aware of the lack of credibility of many influencers, authenticity and emotional engagement (Lebeau 2021) are now a primary focus of beauty brands which has given rise to the Sephora Beauty Insider Community.
What Is Beauty Insider?
In August 2017 beauty giant Sephora launched the Beauty Insider Community (BIC) to connect the brand, beauty experts and consumers. BIC now has 5,497,485 members and over 2 million posts to date (BIC 2022). Mary Beth Laughton, Sephora’s senior vice president of digital, said to WWD (Strugatz, 2017), BIC was designed to encourage engagement across 5 features:
- live community chat
- user profile
BIC was an evolution beyond the original Sephora Facebook group, enabling Sephora to better organise the network’s information and messages, fine-tune the onboarding process, and capture consumer data and user-generated content (UGC). Social Media Week claims UGC is 10 times more influential (Griffin 2020) than branded or influencer-driven content in purchasing decisions.
On-Boarding and Data Collection For Sephora’s Beauty Insider
Onboarding includes adding information on hair, skin and eye colour, skin type and beauty concerns, providing the precious data and capacity to offer highly relevant communications.
How Beauty Insider Creates Strength With “Weak Ties”
BIC offers Beauty Match, a bit like a dating app, connecting members with similar traits. The result is a massive network of weak ties, as discussed by Granovetter (1973), providing highly relevant, “novel and non-redundant” beauty tips, reviews and product suggestions.
Loyalty and Community Status
Within BIC, Sephora purchases elevate a member’s status, with badging, and the brand offers savings, samples and sales events which increase as members ascend tiers.
What is the difference between Beauty Insider and rouge?
Beauty Insider and Rouge are two different membership tiers within the Sephora Beauty Insider program. The main differences between the two are the benefits and rewards you can receive.
Beauty Insider is an entry-level membership and is available to anyone who signs up for free. As a Beauty Insider, you can earn points on your purchases, receive a birthday gift, and access exclusive products, events, and promotions.
Rouge is the highest membership tier and is earned by spending $1,000 or more in a calendar year. As a Rouge member, you can enjoy all the benefits of a Beauty Insider, plus additional perks, such as free standard shipping, access to exclusive Rouge-only products, early access to sales, and a special birthday gift. Rouge members also receive unlimited access to Sephora’s Beauty Studio, where they can receive personalized beauty consultations and makeovers.
In summary, Rouge members receive additional benefits, such as free shipping and exclusive product access, that are not available to Beauty Insider members. However, both tiers allow you to earn points on purchases and receive birthday gifts and access exclusive events and promotions.
An Omnichannel Experience Through Beauty Insider
Laughton says that the Sephora customer is “constantly bouncing back and forth between physical and digital”(Arneson, 2017), stating that the customer might start with BIC, wanting to learn a particular make-up technique and then test products in-store.
BIC offers a browser and app-based version. Members can have real-time interactions on their mobile devices with members, for example, while visiting a store, asking for opinions. When the customer goes to the register, the sales assistant can see the member’s profile and offer further assistance.
Beauty Insider Community ROI and Preaching to the Converted
One of the downsides to investing in branded communities is that members are already customers, so why invest in these relationships? Attracting new customers would offer a better ROI. In the case of BIC, this is not necessarily the case.
What is unique about BIC is that many members may not yet be Sephora customers. With Sephora seen as beauty brand agnostic (Wall Street Journal, 2022), offering a wide range of brands, the BIC is perceived to be more of a neutral source of information on beauty products.
The Power of The Beauty Insider Gallery
The Beauty Insider Gallery looks and functions a lot like Instagram and is a highly visual platform that allows beauty mavens to showcase their photos and videos. By providing the beauty-savvy community with a space to share their experiences, reviews, tips and tricks, the Beauty Insider Gallery has cleverly created a community of beauty enthusiasts who can inspire and influence others with their content.
Similarly to Instagram, Beauty Insider Gallery members can purchase products directly within the platform. This feature is particularly powerful as it allows customers to browse, discover, and purchase products seamlessly, without having to leave the platform. By reducing steps in the purchase process, the Beauty Insider Gallery increases conversions and drives sales exponentially for Sephora.
This powerful tool for Sephora combines the visual appeal of an Instagram-esque user interface with the ability to shop directly within the platform, harnessing the power of user-generated content and social proof. This builds engagement, trust, and credibility within the competitive beauty market, ultimately driving sales and loyalty for the brand.
Is Sephora Beauty Insider free?
Yes, Sephora Beauty Insider is a free loyalty program that allows you to earn points on your purchases and redeem them for rewards. There are three levels of membership: Beauty Insider, VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider), and Rouge. You can become a Beauty Insider simply by signing up on the Sephora website or in-store, and you will start earning points on your purchases right away.
The BIC platform has become an international beauty hub, attracting millions of global beauty lovers. People join up for “insider” beauty-related content and meaningful connections with beauty addicts, providing authentic engagement, and creating valuable insights and data.