Inside Sephora’s Beauty Insider loyalty program

Emmy Brown Berlind, Sephora’s SVP and GM of Loyalty, shares how the retailer continues to evolve its loyalty program.
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Morning Brew Inc./Retail Brew

4 min read

Emmy Brown Berlind is the SVP and general manager of loyalty at Sephora, managing the retailer’s Beauty Insider loyalty program, promotions, sampling, and its Sephora credit card. In her role, Berlind is focusing on growing the 34 million-strong Beauty Insider program as well as engaging consumers, particularly through new gamified elements Sephora added to the program last month. We caught up with Brown to discuss establishing a successful loyalty program and finding a balance between reaching new customers and retaining current shoppers at a virtual Retail Brew Checkout event. Watch the full conversation with Berlind here.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

What makes a good loyalty program, and what makes your loyalty program work so well?

It’s really a combination of the fact that we know that the thing that’s most important to our clients is value and convenience, and how they experience value and convenience is through the loyalty program. For example, being a member of the loyalty program gives you access to the big major promotions that we have twice a year. And then also in December, it also gives you access to wonderful samples that you can redeem for the points that you earn. And then lastly, in terms of the convenience factor, being a member of the BI program also enables you to get free shipping on all of your dotcom orders. And then also enables you to get access to buy online, pick up in store opportunities or even same-day delivery opportunities if you are out of your favorite moisturizer and you need it that day.

How do you find a balance between bringing in new customers and engaging the ones you currently have?

It’s definitely something that we need to be really careful about, because if you lean too heavily in one area, it will make the other area not be as strong. And so as I work with my team for the year, we make sure that there’s a balance of both types of activities. Because we also are trying to make sure that we’re supporting the BI signups in our stores and in Kohl’s stores and if there’s any training that’s needed, we get that feedback from our store partners and help provide any additional information that they need. And then also we know that engagement is very important and that continuing to evolve the program to drive that engagement is something that we also make sure that we’re balanced in, in our yearly planning that we put together. But it’s definitely something that we always are trying to make sure that we’re keeping an eye on so that we’re not leaning too heavily into one direction or the other.

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What are the biggest challenges you’re facing right now in your role?

The challenge is: How do we keep the program exciting? I believe that we have one of the best loyalty programs in the business, and we want to make sure that we’re staying on the cutting edge and making sure that it continues to feel really exciting and valuable to our clients. So I think that’s the challenge: What are we going to do next? What are the things that we need to use to evolve the program that will will keep us on that cutting edge, but then also making sure that we’re not adding things that make it actually too confusing as part of the program too, because we don’t want to overwhelm people while keeping the program fresh and interesting and feeling new. So I think that’s the balance that we try to put in place is thinking about new opportunities, but then also making sure that they’re easily understood to the Beauty Insider members.

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom about building a loyalty program?

Having the program really correspond to why people are shopping at your store in the first place, and rewarding the people that are shopping at your program regularly, or your store regularly with access to things that they really value. And I think that that’s really the foundation of Beauty Insider. And that’s what we always try to keep in mind is, those two key tenets of giving value and convenience, which is what we are always going back to as we think about new opportunities for the program, and I think figuring out for other retailers, what are the key things that your shoppers are looking for, and then making sure that your program has those elements incorporated in it so that if there’s a true connection to the store, and then connection to what your shoppers want.

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