What Ulta Beauty looks for in emerging brands

For independent beauty brands hoping to enter retail, Ulta Beauty is looking into several key categories for what it is adding to its site and shelves.

On Monday, Ulta Beauty announced the new featured brands in its Sparked program which highlights four emerging beauty brands each quarter. The brands featured are Hally, a Z-focused hair dye brandbrand for clean skin and hair care Sk * psunscreen brand in retro style Vacation, and pop star Becky G’s makeup brand, Tresluce beauty. As independent brands vie for retail shelf space, Ulta Beauty launched 10 brands in its fiscal quarter starting February 2022. The brand selection reveals several key themes, with inclusiveness and sustainability at the top of the list.

“The guest who does the shopping [for products from] our Sparked brands are very different. They’re omni shoppers who shop frequently, ”said Muffy Clince, director of emerging brands at Ulta Beauty.

The ultimate beauty launched its Sparked program in 2019 to showcase emerging brands new to US domestic retail. The program features the brands on a special table in 107 stores, as well as a designated landing page on its website. It also provides them with visibility in its marketing materials. The previous group of brands featured in the Sparked program was Live colorful, Sunday II Sunday, Cycles And Loli beauty.

Inclusiveness is still a central theme for Ulta Beauty in its selection of brands. The retailer accepted the 15 Percent Pledge in June 2021 to increase its percentage of black-owned brands to 15%. Black-owned brand launches over the past year have included Sunday II Sunday, Home Body, Camille Rose, Black Girl Sunscreen, Black Opal, and Mented.

Most recently, Fenty Beauty celebrated its launch of Ulta Beauty in March with numerous events that Rihanna attended to stir up hype over the new partnership.

“Overall, we focus on representation and an inclusive shopping trip for our guests. It will be the most important thing for everything we try to bring, “said Clince. For Ulta, this includes prioritizing” ingredients for all skin types, “including color ranges and hair products for a wide range of properties. “We want to make sure we have what the host is looking for,” said Clince.

Sustainability is another key goal as Ulta Beauty works to build the list of brands in its Conscious Beauty program. Conscious Beauty was launched a year after Sparked, in October 2020. Brands qualify by meeting the retailer’s five “pillars” requirements, including sustainable, clean, vegan, cruelty-free or philanthropic.

“TThe huge amount of new brands we introduce are certified in at least one pillar of Conscious Beauty, ”said Clince.

Sk * p, which offers products in paper cartons instead of plastic, was selected for both Conscious Beauty and Sparked, for its eco-friendly model that does not require a change in consumer behavior. This month it will launch in 700 Ulta Beauty stores, marking its first major retail partnership.

“We know it’s really hard to change overall guest behavior when you think about refillable, bar or waterless options,” said Clince.

Sk * p was designed to be “an easy step, while trying to change consumer behavior will take much more time and education,” S said.k * p co-founder Mark Veeder, who previously founded the skin care brand Farmacy. “We have to keep doing it too. But I wanted to change as many people as I could in the shortest possible time. “

In the luxury space, Chanel Beauty launched at the retailer earlier this year, and premium pricing is a priority too.

“We see the guest shopping across all price ranges,” said Clince. “One of our secrets to success is having a large assortment at all prices and in all categories.”

While the retailer is looking to add products across all categories, it’s still looking at the brands it considers wellness brands, having launched its wellness store last year. “The lines continue to blur between wellness, beauty and self-care,” said Clince.

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