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Sephora To Revamp Underperforming Fragrance Category Using Education and Engagement

December 21, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Sephora is looking to revamp its fragrance business, building its strategy around engagement and education. Fragrance is an underperforming category at Sephora where it accounts for about 10 percent of sales, lagging behind beauty and skincare. CEO, Calvin McDonald, recognizes that Sephora’s current offering fails to differentiate and that the category generally has been “commoditized by discounts.” Working on the insight that buying a fragrance is both a bewildering and personal experience, Sephora is looking to engage and educate consumers so they feel empowered to buy. Online it has buying guides to help consumers clarify their perfume profiles and in-store it has set up demonstrations.  “We know that finding a fragrance is a personal experience, but it needs to be simplified and smart as it can be an overwhelming selection process,” said Brooke Banwart, VP of fragrance merchandising at Sephora. The company has been experimenting with “InstaScent” stations (previously called “Poof”) that let customers smell isolated notes to figure out which elements of fragrances they prefer and to learn about different “scent families.” The approach is similar to its beauty strategy where it uses video tutorial stations to help customers experiment with and perfect different makeup looks. 
Fragrance generally looks set for a shift to demystify and simplify purchasing, with valuable lessons likely available from other categories such as wine that has for years worked to make buying fun (and not stuffy) and shows ongoing innovation with different ways to purchase.  [ Image credit © David Goldman ]
Hilary Milnes, "How Sephora is Revamping its Fragrance Category", Glossy, December 21, 2016, © Digiday Media
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