Sephora’s history behind the brand

Sephora is a chain of cosmetics stores founded in France in 1969 and acquired by Paris-based conglomerate LVMH in 1997. The Sephora chain includes more than 750 stores in 21 countries. It carries over 250 brands of items that include makeup, skin care, fragrance, bath, hair products, hair tools, and beauty accessories, including Sephora’s own private label.

The story in a few words:

Dominique Mandonnaud opened the first Sephora store in Limoges in 1979. Thanks to her new conception of the store, an innovative conception based on the possibility of looking,  touching and discovering for the client, customers are allowed to compare different products to feel the different sensations they arouse. The new concept of store is really seducing and in 1979 Mandonnaud opened 10 new selling stores with “Shop8” sign. In 1988 one store was opened even in Paris. In 1993 the 11 perfumeries “Shop8”, already present in the country, added to the 38 Sephora stores, managed by the british society “Boots” opened in France by that moment. To open the dream’s and the luxury’s doors to everyone; a dream called “Mille et un Perfume” located in Bellè-Epin, a luxurious, chic and sober dream. Sephora brand imposed successful in 1994. Symbol of cheerfulness, freedom and elegance, Sephora is also the name of Moses’s second wifein the biblical tradition: a young and beautiful woman, who was clever, brave, generous and free as well. These attributes were highly aligned to the values of freedom, creativity and modernity spread by all Sephora stores. 

1996: Sephora opened the biggest perfumery in the world. In Paris, on Champs-Elyseès, 1300 mq, opened 7 days per week until midnight.

1997: Sephora, as told at the beggining of this post, was included by LVMH group and it included Marie-Jeanne Godard sign.

1998: Sephora inaugurated the international business development plan in New York, in Soho: 450 mq open-space, 12.000 references.

1999: Sephora landed on Internet and began selling on-line on the site, available in the USA.

2000: Sephora received the prestigous Retailing Innovator of the Year award.

2009: Sephora’s success keeps on spreading all over the world, with 560 stores in Europa, 226 of which located in France, 216 in North America, 110 in Italy. Sephora is the most innovative beauty chain in the world.

In Milan the biggest Sephora store in Italy has recently opened. It is located in corso Vittorio Emanuele, articulated on 3 floors and 1000 mq of beauty, between art, innovation, colours and performance. You can observe the Sephora guide philosphy (“avancèr en beautè”) in this particular store as well. I went in this very store about a month ago with a friend and we immediately both noticed the particular attention given to the architectural concept of the store. Everything is really made to impress you. The design is dinamic everywhere and you can really experiment all the services proposed to the customers. Besides thousands of innovative products, you can try the Beauty Bar service and update your look. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll experiment as soon as I can for sure. The opening was celebrated with an opening party with the collaboration of Radio Dj at the beginning of March. The event was advertised as a “Beauty Sound Experience”  and several starlettes and italian actresses partecipated.

Sephora beauty stores are therefore really discovering spaces, where you usually go not only to look for unobtainable products, but also for the pleasure of a direct experimentation of the different services beauty dedicated. They are the new Beauty Bar (the same ones already previously mentionated speaking about the new Sephora store in Milan), “walk in walk out” just in 30 minutes, perfect for those people who lack time to arrange an appointment in a day SPA and dream a last minute “remise en forme”.

Sephora is a combination of “sephos”, which is Greek for “beauty” and the Greek form of Tzipporah (ציפורה), which means “bird” (female) in Hebrew, and was the name of the wife of Moses in the Book of Exodus. The Sephora logo is a flame against a black background.

Customers enjoyed choosing from more than 250 brands of cosmetic products which catered to skin care, hair care, accessories, make up, fragrance products and a host of other beauty and body care items.

The first Sephora store was opened in the year 1997 at New York. Marketing branches of this store were situated in New York City. San Francisco was the North American headquarters of this brand.

Sephora was highly appreciated by its buyers due to its policy of life-time return of products in case of customer dissatisfaction. In addition, the sampling program offered by the store for the customer to try out a variety of new cosmetic products became quite popular.

The rewards program started by the cosmetic store was named “The Sephora Beauty Insider” which offers great discounts, gift coupons and reward points. The members enjoy free sample gifts for their birthday. Every dollar spent by the customer earns the individual a reward point and a special gift was given to customers who bought products worth more than 100 dollars in total from the store.

When I went to Sephora last time, they explained me the opportunity to get a special card (White Card), which gives me 10% discount after every 5 cash passages. I don’t think it is really useful, because the discount doesn’t depend on the cash amount you totalize every time. It probably addresses to create a sort of generic fidelity in order to make your Sephora passages more and more frequent. In this way you can get aware of the new products on selling every time.

A classical Gift-Card is also available in all Sephora stores. It doesn’t represent a particularly innovative way to make the customer’s fidelity higher. Despite of this, it could be an appreciated present, if you are a Sephora-addicted.


~ by makeupyourlife on May 11, 2010.

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