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THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

How to Win at Ulta Beauty

18 May 2023

By Meghan Heltne, The Mars Agency

America loves Ulta Beauty.

That fact was clearly reflected in the record results Ulta posted in 2022 when, for the first time in the specialty retailer’s 33-year history, it delivered over $10 billion in sales.

Ulta also just received top ratings alongside iconic brands like Nike, Amazon and Apple in Piper Sandler’s semi-annual survey of U.S. teenagers, where they were selected as the most-loved beauty destination for Gen Z — a very powerful group of consumers both now and especially in the future.

According to Ulta executives, this growth can be attributed to the retailer’s highly differentiated business model, the overall growth of multiple beauty categories, and a winning culture.

What do I think? It comes down to one thing: No one else does what Ulta does!

Ulta is redefining how beauty is portrayed by supporting trailblazing causes and driving more meaningful brand purpose with a goal of changing what beauty means to the world.

In recent years, we’ve seen the beauty category grow during challenging macro-economic times by evolving its way into the wellness/self-care space — fueled by the absolute explosion of “#BeautyTok,” which has rung up more than 42.8 billion views to date. (Yes, that’s “billion” with a B.) And guess what: 60% of TikTok users are Gen Z’ers.

The future of the beauty category, therefore, remains very bright, which makes winning with a leading, relevant retailer like Ulta critical to beauty brand success. Here are 5 ways brands can win with this beloved retailer:

1. Be first in delivering newness and innovation that’s grounded in wellness and self-care.

2. Personalize, personalize, personalize. From product offerings to program messaging and rewards, let this beauty consumer know you have solutions that will work for their unique and complex needs.

3. Blend the physical and the digital. The retailer’s Ultamate Rewards loyalists love to explore and discover products and services throughout the store and digitally. Make sure you’re prominent in both places.

4. Diversify your promotional strategy. Mix up the offers. Give them holiday/seasonal gifting sets that deliver value and savings.

5. Find the synergies between Ulta Beauty’s priorities and your own to develop strategies for winning in the omnichannel commerce arena.

6. Lean into the newly launched UB Media retail media network to amplify your promotions and innovation. Take big bets and fuel the flywheel!

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About the Author
Meghan Heltne is SVP, Customer Development for The Mars Agency. As leader of the Minneapolis office, she leads the Target, Best Buy and Beauty teams, which work across all of the agency’s key clients. An 11-year agency veteran across two tours (with time in between at Coca-Cola), Meghan was named a, Women of Excellence by the Path to Purchase Institute in 2021.

To learn more about Ulta Beauty and how The Mars Agency can help you win with this critical retailer, contact Meghan at [email protected].

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