Ulta Beauty’s omnichannel consumers are changing the business for the better

By Deanna Utroske contact

- Last updated on GMT

Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillon and CEW Chairwoman Jill Scalamandre in conversation at CEW’s Transformational Leaders event (image courtesy of JF Productions)
Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillon and CEW Chairwoman Jill Scalamandre in conversation at CEW’s Transformational Leaders event (image courtesy of JF Productions)

Related tags: Ulta beauty, New york city

Speaking at last week’s CEW Transformational Leaders event at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, the company’s CEO Mary Dillon, reveled just how valuable these shoppers are and how Ulta is evolving to meet the needs of all beauty enthusiasts.

The sold-out Transformational Leaders conversation between Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillon and CEW Chairwoman Jill Scalamandre, president of the global makeup center of excellence at Shiseido Americas Corporation, was the CEW’s first event of the season.

Dillion draws a savvy industry crowd because, as CEW president Carlotta Jacobson explains, “since joining Ulta Beauty as CEO in 2013, Mary Dillon’s leadership has delivered winning results for the retailer,”​ and, “her focus on collaboration and continuous improvement has created this amazing guest-centric, values-based, high-performance culture at Ulta Beauty.”

The big picture

“At Ulta Beauty, transformational leadership starts with building a winning culture,” ​Dillon tells the press. “We are focused on an associate and guest-centric approach that is helping us to break barriers and create a unique retail experience with all things beauty, all in one place.”

By centering the Ulta Beauty business around the people who love the brand, Dillion is confirming what all the pros know, that in beauty companies especially, “the people are the brand,”​ as Lisa Marie Ringus, EVP of global sales and business development at 24 Seven told Cosmetics Design early this month.

The in-store business is growing at Ulta, as Scalamandre noted at the event. The reason is quite simple, “the beauty enthusiast loves to shop for beauty in-person,” ​Dillion says. The challenge, she notes, is to “make sure [that shopping in-store] is interesting and experiential in ten years.”

On-screen and in-store

The company is planning for longevity online too. Dillion tells Scalamandre that Ulta is focused on having “robust ecommerce,” “an assortment of brands…everything that’s in-store and more,” ​as well as “shoppable content,” ​and “the infrastructure to get it to her in a timely manner.”

Perhaps more interesting than the company’s plans for the future is that the Ulta Beauty consumer shopping both online and in-store “spends 2 ½ times what an in-store only customer does,” ​according to Dillion.

Standout brands

At Ulta Beauty, there’s a motto: “All Things Beauty, All in One Place,” ​which means the store’s “product mix of prestige and mass brands resonates with their guests and…the retailer continues to evolve its product assortment,” ​as a CEW press release about the event explains.

Dillion shared some advice for brands looking to grow with Ulta Beauty as the company moves forward (with new stores, newly opened distribution centers, a new branded credit card​, and more): Use your assets to “help differentiate Ulta,” ​she says, recommending that beauty brands leverage their branded content offerings, and partner with Ulta on exclusives and first-to-market product offerings.

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