Love all things Sephora?
If you frequent the fragrant aisles of posh cosmetics and beauty products or find yourself purchasing the latest highly-touted makeup magic, you should apply for the Sephora Beauty Insider (BI) Program right away.
This Beauty Insider is considered one of the best—if not THE best—loyalty program for beauty products on the market today, and not just for its rewards, but for its immersive experience.
As a member of the BI Community, you get rewarded for your beauty product purchases.
Plus, you won't run out of ideas and inspiration for your next look as it allows you to access forums, beauty advice, live chat help, events, and even inspiration boards.
Sephora has taken all the best things about social media and created its own microcosm for makeup lovers.
This is all part of Sephora's focus on using technology to provide better customer experiences.
And it's working beautifully.
Sephora is now the number one specialty beauty retailer in the world.
What Makes It So Special?
Marketing to luxurious, tech-savvy millennials
Sephora targets consumers in a few different ways.
It markets to women who love luxury items. Owned by multinational luxury goods company, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE (LVMH), Sephora offers the finest products you can't get anywhere else.
It markets to tech-savvy millennials. Using digital innovation, Sephora has met younger consumers where they live by offering apps with Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities.
Sephora Virtual Artist lets you try on try on makeup without entering the store. This digital tool applies cosmetics to your face online or by using the Sephora app.
It's also free and available at the Apple Store or on Google Play.
It markets to makeup addicts. Sephora customers can spend thousands of dollars every year on products and it helps that they're getting huge rewards for their loyalty.
I love collecting points, so Sephora's point system does make me shop there more.
I like to collect and hoard in general, but items take up too much space. Points are virtual and can easily be hidden to conceal my shame.
It markets to women of color. Sephora has also championed inclusive cosmetics, reaching a largely ignored and untapped consumer market.
Last year, the store partnered with Pat McGrath Labs, Huda Beauty, and Stellar—three companies offering products for darker skin tones.
Last fall, superstar Rihanna launched her Fenty Beauty collection exclusively through Sephora, including 40 different shades of foundation.
According to Fast Company, the hype around Fenty led to a 17% boost in Q3 sales.
Why People Love It
BI's easy application process is a refreshing breeze
It is absolutely free to apply for a Sephora BI card either in-store or online.
Because the program is interactive, you will need to create a Sephora online account at Sephora.com by providing your name, email address and creating a password.
You can apply for your BI membership at the same time.
If you received your BI Card at the store, you will need to create an online account and link it to your membership number.
And since you're already there, don't forget the free deluxe-sized samples!
Sephora customers are allowed three free product samples on each visit to the store.
You can sneak in a fourth sample online by checking out Sephora Beauty Offers online.
What Are The Downfalls?
Sephora doesn't have a store credit card and their rewards sell out fast
Still, Sephora partnership with JCPenney is a unique reward. It is strange to think that Sephora does not offer its own store brand credit card, but it's true.
However, more than 10 years ago, Sephora partnered with JCPenney to open small outlets within the department store.
Today, there are Sephora stores inside over 600 JCPenney stores nationwide, and the company is pushing ahead with plans to open even more this year.
JCPenney, like all department stores, has suffered from low sales, but they are banking on Sephora inside JCPenney kiosks to bring in more fashion and beauty lovers to strategically boost sales.
For this reason, JCPenney extended its store credit card for use at Sephora stores, Sephora inside JCPenney, and at sephora.com.
The Rewards Bazaar items sell out too quickly. Sephora customers are a pretty loyal bunch, but they do have some gripes about the BI program.
Some have complained that even though they log on as soon as they receive an email from Sephora informing them of products offered, they are gone before they get a chance to purchase them.
Ulta Beauty might pique your interest with their Ultamate Rewards
Ulta Beauty is Sephora's only real competitor in the cosmetic and beauty product store market.
Although the stores are different in many ways, which brand offers the best rewards program is a hotly contested subject.
While Sephora focuses on luxury brands, Ulta also includes a range of lower-priced products that appeal to a certain segment of consumer.
Ulta offers discounts instead of product rewards
Ultamate Rewards points can be redeemed for credits on Ulta purchases. The credits offered are as follows:
- 100 points = $3
- 250 points = $8
- 500 points = $17.50
- 750 points = $30
- 1,000 points = $50
- 2,000 points = $125
Ultamate Rewards also has status based on spending tiers
Like Sephora, Ultamate Rewards offer better benefits the more you spend in-store.
Basic members receive a free birthday gift, double the points on purchases made during your birthday month, and one point for each dollar spent.
Platinum status is reached when you spend at least $450 in products per year.
The additional benefits include a $10 birthday coupon, non-expiring points, and 1.25 points earned for each dollar spent.
Diamond status members spend $1,200 or more per year on Ulta Beauty products.
The additional benefits include free shipping on purchases of $25 or more, annual $25 beauty services reward card, and 1.5 points for each dollar spent.
Critics of Sephora's program don't like that rewards equal samples. Those who prefer Ultamate Rewards enjoy using the discounts on any product they want.
Ultamate Rewards members like the 5x points promotions. Ulta Beauty customers enjoy the points they can rack up during high-point promotional periods before holidays.
Sephora Beauty Insider members love the exclusive products. Even those who acknowledge the better savings of Ultamate Rewards still shop Sephora for the items they cannot find anywhere else.
Savvy consumers are members of both rewards programs and use them to their best advantage.
For example, using Ultamate Rewards for inexpensive, everyday items like bath and hair products and using Beauty Insider for the luxury items on their list.
How It All Works
All rewards programs are designed to help you spend more of your money at specific stores, and Sephora's BI program is no different.
BI works by giving you one point for every $1 spent on products at Sephora stores, Sephora stores inside JCPenney, or Sephora.com.
BI Points are accrued in your Beauty Bank which you can check at any time by logging into your Sephora account online.
Points can be redeemed for Sephora rewards in the store, online, or using the Sephora app.
The Rewards Bazaar offers exclusive products in exchange for points. The products can be purchased using 100–50,000 reward points.
The products are available for a limited time and in limited quantities, so get online fast before they sell out.
The Rewards Bazaar restocks rewards at 12 pm EST Tuesdays and Thursdays and spending time on the Sephora forums can update you when new or your favorite products will become available.
The Rewards Boutique offers rewards like deluxe samples at check-out. As a BI member, you can select rewards online or in-store in exchange for Beauty Points.
Based on your BI status, get invitations to exclusive in-store events. BI store events are invite-only affairs for members at all levels of status.
BI benefits vary by status
Like all rewards programs, the more you spend at Sephora, the more benefits you will reap from your BI membership.
The basic BI status includes a free birthday gift, access to the BI Community, free beauty classes, the Rewards Bizarre, and flash two-day shipping (for $10 per year).
To reach Very Important Beauty (VIB) Insider status, you must spend at least $350 per year at the store or online.
Additional VIB benefits include monthly gifts and a free custom makeover.
The top status, Rouge, is reached when you spend $1,000 or more per year on Sephora products.
Additional Rouge benefits include unlimited free makeovers, free two-day shipping, a private hotline, and access to exclusive events.
Sephora's largest ever rewards included two three-day VIP passes to Austin City Limits music festival and a five-night trip to Hawaii including surfing lessons.
Each for the price of 50,000 BI points.
Is it worth it?
For those who love Sephora products, the BI Rewards Program is an absolute must-have.
Even if you don't accumulate enough points for any real savings, membership in the BI Community provides a whole host of beauty-related information.
Plus, the interactive apps and Sephora devices have taken personalized service to a whole new level.
Those services, along with the deluxe-sized samples, make Sephora's rewards a total win.
- What is the Beauty Insider Card?
The Beauty Insider Card is a membership card for Sephora's free Rewards program.
It is not a credit card, gift card or other prepaid or stored value card.
Points that you earn as part of the Beauty Insider Program are not stored on the card itself.
- Is there an expiry date to my reward points?
Points expire if there is no activity on your BI account for 18 months.
- Are my points only redeemable at Sephora?
Sephora points can only be used at Sephora stores or online.
- Can I redeem my points at other sister stores and other non-affiliated stores?
- Will I get free shipping on online shopping?
Shipping is free on purchases over $50.
- Can I use my Beauty Insider card without the card?
Yes. Just provide your email account used for your Sephora online account when checking out. You do not need a Beauty Insider Card to shop at Sephora or to accumulate points in your Beauty Bank.
- Can I add an authorized user to the card?
No. There can only be one person per account.
- How do I contact the card services?
Call Sephora customer service at 1-877-SEPHORA.
- How do I get more reward points?
The BI program, unlike other rewards programs, doesn't offer bonus points, though Sephora does occasionally send out coupons.