Ulta Wins The Beauty Contest Of 2016

With its infatuation with Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, it’s safe to say that today’s generation is as concerned with appearances as were previous generations — if not more. The unexpected beauty queen reigning supreme is none other than cosmetic superstore Ulta, where anyone can walk in off the street for countless hair and makeup options.

Whereas the latter half of 2016 saw a downward spiral in retail stocks, Ulta was the ray of light shining through with a 38 percent stock surge. It’s no doubt the selfie generation is the main contributing to this retailer’s successful year. Given that the retailer was well aware of this fact, it came as no surprise when Ulta made the decision to launch its very own Glam Lab app, which helped enhance customers’ beauty regimen by allowing them to apply virtual makeup before purchasing it. With this virtualization tool, Ulta’s Glam Lab app upped the game by helping customers find the right makeup while playing into the try-before-you-buy-it craze.

Since its initial appearance on the stock exchange over a decade ago, this beauty retailer has seen its revenue soar to $3.9 billion, surpassing Sephora in 2015. Market research firm Euromonitor confirms beauty specialty stores’ popularity with the industry’s sales gain of 48 percent, making it the second fastest-growing industry (the first being off-price department stores).

What makes Ulta different are its view toward the future and gift for innovation. As the retail industry has seen its fair share of troubles over the past few years due to more people shopping online, Ulta takes into account the customer’s desires by offering a large number of beauty products and reasonable prices. For brick-and-mortar beauty stores to have a positive impact moving forward, they might want to take a page from Ulta and its customer-centric focus.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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