Charting the Beauty Enthusiast’s Shopping Journey for Ulta Beauty




CHALLENGE: As Women’s Wear Daily put it, Ulta Beauty “has always been known for its unique merchandising strategy that merges mass with class.” But the beauty retailer was looking to serve its loyal audience even better (and attract new fans) across touchpoints. With growing competition from other beauty sources, Ulta Beauty needed to better understand how its shopper experience and performance (online, on mobile app and in-store) compared to its competitors. The company also needed to find ways to differentiate and enhance its offering to continue its growth trajectory.

APPROACH: Halverson Group conducted an extensive study, first narrowing a representation of 122 million females in the U.S. down to 77 million who could be defined, via a list of criteria, as “beauty enthusiasts” (63 percent of the female population ages 13 and older). We then dug into these women’s perceptions of and experiences with Ulta Beauty and other purveyors of beauty products through a shopper journey study that looked at customer service, variety of services and products, convenience, rewards and discounts, location and more—across three platforms: In-store, website and mobile app. We also identified the “jobs to be done” throughout the beauty shopper’s journey, i.e. what these women are looking for, be it a chance to explore their options via samples and makeovers, to simply get the lipstick they always get and move on, or seek guidance from a pro. We measured the purpose, satisfaction, and conversion rate with each Ulta Beauty touchpoint and that of its competition. Understanding the jobs to be done on the shopper journey is essential because different touchpoints fulfill different jobs. And the ability to size the opportunity of a job, see where you are winning, and see where others are winning—using our Jobs to Be Won™ approach—is worth the price of a caviar-laced foundation.

FUEL: We painted a complete picture of what the market was delivering and what the consumer is craving, giving Ulta Beauty a deep understanding of brand perception, brand performance, and the essential jobs of a beauty retailer from the beauty enthusiast’s perspective.

WIN: With a makeup kit full of insights, Ulta Beauty is now positioned to enhance its shopper experience, stay ahead of the competition and continue to deliver on its beautiful promise.