Chart of the Week: Ulta vs. Sephora

The online beauty business is booming: just this week, cult beauty brand Glossier (an extension of lifestyle blog Into the Gloss) announced that StitchFix CEO Katrina Lake joined their board as its first independent member. And more established beauty brands, like Ulta and Sephora (which offer online outlets as well as brick and mortar shop locations) are still exceeding analyst expectations, even in the face of rising competition from the likes of Amazon. With an expanding number of brands and ways to shop for beauty products online and offline, which retailer is winning the battle for consumers and their attention?

How to Sephora and Ulta Stack Up Against Each Other?

Verto Analytics examined users of Sephora and Ulta’s websites and apps among U.S. adults (ages 18 and above). At first glance, Sephora and Ulta have nearly identical monthly audience numbers: in March 2018, Sephora claimed 9.2 million monthly unique users, while Ulta reported nearly 9.1 million monthly unique users. But a closer look at who these users are, and how they behave, reveal major differences in terms of demographics and engagement.

According to Verto Watch data, younger shoppers prefer Ulta, especially those ages 18-24; they comprise 23% of Ulta’s audience, an index of 238 (meaning that 18-24 year olds are 2.38 times more likely to use Ulta compared to the general population). Meanwhile, shoppers ages 35-44 prefer Sephora: they comprise 26.5% of Sephora’s audience, an index of 127 (meaning that 35-44 year olds are 1.27 times more likely to use Sephora compared to the general population). Moreover, Sephora has a clear advantage in attracting and engaging its users: consumers  using the Sephora app or website spent three times the amount of time on Sephora’s online store than Ulta shoppers spent on Ulta’s app or website. The average Sephora user spent over 50 minutes using the app and website during the month of March, while Ulta users spent an average of only around 15 minutes inside the app or website.

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