Retail partnerships sometimes bring together brands that may have been considered an odd couple. However, unusual circumstances have given rise to new ways to reach customers, and such is the case here.
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Target is one store that has seen its sales and profits skyrocket throughout the pandemic. It provided its customers with all they needed to hunker down under lockdown – from toilet paper to bakeware – and options for delivery or curbside pickup. And because all Target locations sell groceries and other essential items, they were never shuttered for lockdowns.
In contrast, beauty shops were closed, and that includes Ulta. As the brand reported, its sales fell 29.6% to $2.4bn in the first six months of fiscal 2020 in contrast to its net income of $353.5m in the first six months of fiscal 2019, 2020 delivered a net loss of $70.5m.
Even now that the stores are reopened, the beauty business is not what it used to be, so it does make sense that they would seek to gain foot traffic and attention from online shoppers by positioning their products in Target.
Target reported it also believed the partnership would be advantageous to its brand. Its announcement quoted Brian Cornell, Target’s chairman and CEO, saying, “This matchup brings Ulta Beauty’s coveted prestige beauty assortment, category expertise and guest loyalty together with Target’s high-growth beauty business and the ease and convenience of our industry-leading fulfillment services.”
To maintain the status of the beauty brand, it will not be mixed in with the cheaper cosmetics associated with “drugstore brands” like Maybelline and Revlon. Instead, Ulta products will appear in a “shop-in-shop” starting out at 100 selected Target stores with more planned for the future.
Target shared the following rendering of how such an Ulta shop would appear, though actual results may vary:
Target’s announcement also referred to other products and services designed to appeal to the beauty shopper who may be used to high end department store cosmetics:
“We’re also exploring ways to integrate personalized services and digital tools into the experience — like GLAMLab, Ulta’s virtual try-on tool that provides a safe and fun way to test out products before buying. And for those looking for recommendations or some extra expertise, our team members in the space will be specially trained to provide Ulta Beauty’s famous consultative services.”
Why not? Target does draw shoppers with a wide range of budgets, and some would likely be happy to treat themselves to some makeup indulgence when picking up toilet paper and milk.
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