Deep Dive Into the Retail Personalization Index Top 10: Ulta

There are infinite combinations of skin type and coloring, bone structure and facial features, so no two beauty customers are the same. That means, perhaps more than other industries, beauty brands have to embrace personalization. And they are, based on Sailthru’s third Retail Personalization Index, where Ulta joins Sephora in the top 10.

The largest beauty retailer in the U.S., Ulta invites customers to set a foundation for personalization with a robust preference center. There, people note their skin tone, favorite products, and even whether they have niche needs, like gluten-free shampoo. No matter who the customer is, they’re almost certainly a member of Ulta’s loyalty program. From last August through this past July, the beauty giant’s revenue totaled more than $7 billion, a 12.4% increase year-over-year. And more than 90% of those sales came from Ultamate Rewards members. 

With points, birthday gifts and in-store events, joining Ulta’s ever-growing loyalty program — there are now more than 31 million members — is a no-brainer for any shopper. Loyal customers are the best customers, and Ulta makes sure to promote the program everywhere. It’s on the brand’s website, along with the Ultamate Rewards credit card, and featured prominently in email communications.

However, Ulta’s loyalty lies primarily within the app. With more than 495,000 reviews, the app boasts a 4.9 rating in the iOS App Store and earned a perfect score in our mobile category. It’s tricked out with cool features, such as augmented reality fitting rooms and voice search. But more importantly, it’s the nucleus of Ulta’s personalization.

Between the inspiration from quizzes and user-generated content, as well as the A+ personalized messaging, the app encourages online shopping. However, store locators and appointment-booking are great drivers to get people into one of Ulta’s 1,1174 stores. Salon services and omnichannel experiences, such virtual hair color and skin mapping, keep them there.

One of the strongest performances from the 2018 to now, Ulta just seems to be getting started. In November, the retailer made its first acquisitions: GlamST, an AR beauty tech company, and artificial intelligence startup QM Scientific.

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