Sephora’s Market Segmentation Responsible for its Retail & Online Strengths

Sephora’s Market Segmentation Responsible for its Retail & Online Strengths

Sephora is an innovative skincare, beauty, and fragrance retailer catering to customers who want quality, freedom, and a positive shopping experience.

The following is a paper by Justin Tung about Sephora as part of coursework from the “Creating Consumer-Oriented Merchandising Programs” course at University of Toronto.

Sephora’s Target Market and Segment

Sephora’s in store design indicates several target market segments/personas including women and men. Specific sections of the store show pictures of women of all cultures from 20-30, 30-40, 40-50+ and men 20-40+ (see Appendix for store

picture of various women in sephora display via justintung (470x640) (330x450)

pictures). The segment of women attracted to Sephora would be those who value fashionable/quality skincare, beauty, and fragrance products and are open to a medium to high price range. Also, there are product sections with richly decorated cosmetics that would appeal to young girls (pre-teen to teenager). The black and white colours of the store give a look attractive to professionals. The wide assortment of brands, vendor exclusives, and private label combinations would attract any shoppers looking for variety (Sephora USA Inc., 2011).

Strength: Self-Service Environment

The freedom a Sephora store provides allows customers to navigate the store as they please, try products on their own time using demos, and ask for service if needed. The nature of beauty products means women must try them to see their effects and compare. The freedom to try products without high pressure sales and sales associates recommending certain brands typical of service oriented department stores helps consumers take the time to enjoy the shopping experience and choose what fits them.

Lack of Success in Germany and Japan

Despite the strengths of Sephora’s store layout and retail mix, Sephora had to close their stores in Germany and Japan in 2001 and 2002 due to economic conditions and poor performance (DFNI Online, 2001). Sephora’s parent company Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) may have expanded Sephora stores too aggressively in 1999 following excellent profits/sales, causing problems in the early 2000s, when new markets did not perform as expected (Retail Traffic Magazine, 2002). In Japan, Sephora’s traditional strength of a self-service environment became a weakness since it did not fit with the expected retail experience of Japanese consumers and procurement of supplier services. The result was domestic suppliers only gave Sephora a limited supply and consumers were confused with store layouts and low service environment (Carter Associates, 2008).

How can a Beauty Retailer Successfully Transition to an Online Channel?

The retailer should set a strategic goal their online presence will achieve. Some example goals are to provide a self-service sale channel or encourage sales conversions through content. By establishing a website, a beauty retailer should concentrate on format development of the online channel (e.g. online deals, promotions, advice) resulting in benefits of market penetration and market expansion into new geographic segments on the internet. The content of the online channel should engage consumers in learning about, selecting, and using beauty productions through media such as pictures of products and video demonstrations. The retailer can consider online advertising (e.g. search engine marketing) and social media to establish its brand online. Targeted online advertising will aid in market expansion to reach a larger audience, especially for an international retailer. Finally, the retailer should consider business aspects like supply chain management and evaluate suppliers/shipping and opportunities for cost reductions. Initially, human and information communications technology resources should be kept inside the company to maintain brand consistency and pricing across all channels and keep e-business knowledge in the company (Chaffey, 2009, pp. 261-311).

Why Sephora’s Online Site is Successful

Sephora’s website ( builds on it retail store strengths of self-service, freedom, and quality. Users are free to browse and learn about products through consumer reviews, videos (Sephora TV), and information (Beauty Talk expert

Sephora at Toronto Eaton Centre

advice) such as usage tips and recommendations. The videos are professionally produced and the reviews and expert advice provide relevant content to users in making decisions (Sephora USA Inc., 2011). also employs a variety of best practices in e-commerce websites such as “popular picks”, tiered navigation interface, suggestions, rich visual content, and explanations of products from the consumer’s perspective (i.e. how to use product, why use it). Having these features on the website provides value to consumers through access to information and aids in conversions (Chaffey, 2009, pp. 413, 419, 437).

Appendix – Sephora Store at the Toronto Eaton Centre

Pictures are of the Sephora store located on level 3 in the Toronto Eaton Centre taken by Justin Tung on October 29, 2011. Pictures show the store layout, design (colours, product sections), and target market/personas of Sephora.


Carter Associates. (2008). Foreign Market Misses in Japan. Retrieved 10 26, 2011, from Carter Associates:

Chaffey, D. (2009). E-Business and E-Commerce Management, Strategy, Implementation, and Practice. Edinburgh Gate: Pearson Education Limited.

DFNI Online. (2001, November 29). Sephora quits Japanese market. Retrieved 17 October, 2011, from DFNI

Retail Traffic Magazine. (2002, September 1). Sephora kisses Rock Center flagship goodbye. Retrieved 10 25, 2011, from Retail Traffic Magazine:

Sephora USA Inc. (2011). About Sephora. Retrieved 10 24, 2011, from Sephora:

5 reasons to Advertise on Internet TV, Video, and Radio

5 reasons to Advertise on Internet TV, Video, and Radio

I’ve advertised on internet video channels and here are benefits I found you can consider when media planning for internet TV and radio.

Advantages of Internet media

Reaching a Niche

Some people just prefer to listen to free internet radio and watch TV online. They’re usually young people who have modern technology and don’t use radios or have or can afford cable TV.  If those people are your target audience, the digital channel is important for your campaign and you’ll want people clicking on your online ads or going to the campaign landing page.

Ease of Reporting and Tracking Ad Effectiveness

Thanks to services like Google Analytics, you can find out easily your ad’s engagement, impressions, and return on investment.

Market Research

YouTube and other internet media offer you detailed information on people viewing and clicking on your ads (e.g. gender, age, interests). It is worthwhile to run campaign just to see which audiences prefer your brand and style of advertising. I’ve received a lot of marketing data from internet media companies by running ads.

Quick to Test Ads and Change Them

You’re getting real time data about ad impressions and clicks. You can easily test different ads and change them on the fly unlike traditional media. Your ad viewers are one click away from your website and the real time nature can aid in campaigns that are time sensitive.

Reuse your digital media

Most strong brands have videos and sounds clips online already. You can reuse parts or your organization’s existing media (e.g. popular YouTube videos) for an internet TV/radio ad.

Bonus: 3 Tips for Design TV/radio Internet Ads

creative pencil analytics interaction between people

photo credit: David Berkowitz

So now that you’re exciting about making some ads, here tips based on data from past internet campaigns. One insight is very few people will listen or watch a whole internet ad so:

1. Front load important information and in the first 3-5 seconds of the ad. People who are really interested in your product will watch the rest if they need to.

2. The first part of the ad should have catchy visuals and/or sounds to capture your audience or allow them to self-select whether the ad is relevant to them. Here are examples – show a map to indicate a location, choose music to represent your product category’s environment, use text or voice to summarize the ad’s topic or provide a hook.

3. Be open to trying different variations of ads and then use the most successful one (one with the most clicks or engagement). My experience with 2-3 variations of ads is over time 1 will become the preferred one. An easy variation can be to alter the duration of the ad.

12 Tips for Low Cost Advertising & Promotion Strategies and Tactics

12 Tips for Low Cost Advertising & Promotion Strategies and Tactics

I kind of specialize in low cost advertising and marketing promotion production after working for non-profits and promoting employee programs where there is no budget other than people to do the work who are usually volunteers and basic equipment like cameras, printers, and computers. Here are tips I use to make the most of common supplies with a zero to low advertising budget.

Strategies for Low Cost Production

Use as much free stuff as possible like open source/free software, creative commons media, sponsored materials, public domain media (sound clips, videos).

Partner with other organizations to lower the cost of their advertising and combine marketing plans to strengthen their market presence. For example, a tourism organization I work with partners with regional tourism groups and the provincial government to promote their area.

“Who you know” — Ask your team about their talents, especially their hobbies outside of work. You’d be surprised how many people outside their work are talented musicians, video editors, photographers, renovators, etc. who can donate their time or have contacts with people who can provide low cost advertising materials.

woman reading a book in a library stack

photo credit: J. Star

Be simple with your ads and use a casual everyday scenarios, lighting, and scenes for yours ads. A recent ad by President’s Choice is a good example. It was Galen Weston Jr. sitting in a well-lit kitchen talking to two women about the new product – – that’s it!

Use your archives and find older ads and media. Is there something you can reuse and recycle?

Set up a common repository of advertising stories, media, materials, etc. for your organization. It’s common to share a stock photography and video library.

Tactics for Low Cost Production

stormtroopers loading piggy banks with coins

photo credit: Kalexanderson

Combine marketing campaigns with an advertising partner. Ideas to combine are direct mail campaigns, out-of-home media, events, and commercials.

Use free open source software. Lots of choices for creative people on different computer platforms (online web tools, Windows, Linux, Mac)

Ask your corporate/organization’s sponsors to help you with events by providing materials you can use for promotion. My sponsors commonly pay for printing of posters if you include them in the poster and thank them for sponsorship.

Borrow and Share. Do search on the internet for ads that resemble yours and adapt their designs or approach to your brand.

Use Bing/Yahoo, Facebook, or Google promotional coupons for free digital advertising. Usually they provide $50 of free advertising for new sign ups. You can sign up, use the free $50 and continue if you like.

Use social media to get input from customers. Not an innovative idea, but getting input either through voting, a contest, or reward system is a win-win for the company and consumer. Plus, you can get good publicity from asking for input.

Internet Advertising and Web Marketing Implementation Resources

Internet Advertising and Web Marketing Implementation Resources

The list below provide sources to be used with the development of electronic / web / online marketing as well as integrated electronic communications.

Good marketing implementation resources

Google Advertising Programs (AdSense and AdWords) and Microsoft Advertising provide a variety of advertising opportunities both through search engine marketing (SEM), TV ads, content network ads, website banners ads, and other channels like mobile, games, etc..

Google Alerts allows you to monitor the web for interesting new content via email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. Alerts can be used to monitor marketing campaigns and web
activity (e.g. competitors, trends, social commentary).

Copy blogger contains tips for copywriters, bloggers, and content marketers and aims to give effective online copywriting and content marketing strategies.

Radian 6 offers paid tools for social media monitoring. The tools allow you view relevant conversations on selected topics and aggregate and report on those
conversations allowing easier analysis and measurement.

Social Oomph helps manage your social media efforts through scheduling, links management, monitoring, a channel synchronization among other things. The are free features and paid features.

TweetDeck is a tool for managing social media feeds, viewing profiles and updates, and performing interactions in one tool. It is available for deskops and some mobile platforms. It makes it easy to monitor various social media networks in one place and is particularly strong in using Twitter API features.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (Version 2.0) provide principles and content
techniques to ensure content is inclusive to various people including people
with disabilities and the ways they consume web content. The principles are
also standard practices to follow to make web content easily accessible,
usable, and understandable. is about usability and web design research, studies, news, and guidelines.

Website grader is a website search engine optimization (SEO) tool that tells how well a website is doing for things like SEO, social media mentions and popularity, and page analytics.

Dragon Boat Race Start Fit for Various Teams – 5-15

Dragon Boat Race Start Fit for Various Teams – 5-15

The purpose of a start in dragon boat racing is to increase the speed of the dragon boat during the beginning of the race so the team can settle into a race pace.

Generally the stroke rate during the middle and end of a start will be the high. The follow describes the stroke rate and power of the 5-15 (or 5-5-10) start.

For all types of teams, the key to a start is paddling together at the same time while increasing the boat speed.

First 5 – Deep, Long, Strong, and Powerful Strokes

The first five strokes are to get the boat moving from a stationary position. They are slow, powerful strokes that are deep in the water.

Second 5 – Increasing Stroke Rate

The next five strokes should be slightly faster than the first five to accelerate the boat and get it sitting higher in the water.

Fast 10 – High Stroke Rate

The next ten strokes should even faster in rate than the last 10 and possibly a shorter catch and bring up the boat speed close to the race speed.

5 Transition Strokes After the 20 Start strokes

After the 20 start strokes, there should be a transition period of slower, farther reaching strokes. 5 is a good number.

After the transition, the team can settle into a race pace consisting of long and strong strokes.

Table Description of the 5-15 Start with 5 stroke Transition

5 Strokes – Get the boat moving 5 Strokes – Start to accelerate the boat 10 Strokes – Increase the boat speed to race pace 5 Strokes – Transition
Dragon Boat Paddling Technique Tips

Dragon Boat Paddling Technique Tips

5 quick tips and mental reminders about basic positions in the dragon boat stroke and what to think of.

#1 Ready Position – The Foundation

  • Sit up straight.
  • Both feet are forward and planted on the rib (ridges) on the floor of the boat. A variation is one foot may be tucked under your seat. Most important is you have a solid base with your feet and connection to the boat
  • Simply raise your paddle forward with straight arms. Elbows shouldn’t be locked and a slight bend in the arm is ok. Make sure your paddle has a positive angle compared to the water and paddle face is facing forward and not at an angle.
  • Bottom arm is parallel to water surface.
  • Paddle will reach near the knees of the person in front of you.

Mental Note: You can hold the position comfortably for 10 seconds without straining.

#2 Body Weight and Positioning on the Seat

  • Keep your weight outside the boat throughout the whole stroke.
  • An easy way to check your positioning is you should be able to comfortably see the outside of the boat and its colour while paddling. Of course, during paddling make sure to look up at your team.

Mental Notes:

  • As you’re reaching forward, pretend you’re reaching around a tree in front of you with both arms.
  • When paddling, as your bottom arm moves through the air (arm closest to water), the motion is similar to trying to reach for the shoulder of the person in front of you with your bottom arm. Just remember, don’t actually hit the shoulder of the person in front of you!

#3 Setup of the stroke – The Catch

  • Reach forward with rotation (rotating) and bend forward slightly (hinging).
  • Keep your arms fairly straight, but do not lock them totally straight. See the “A” frame in the picture for what that looks like.

Woman holding paddle with paddle, arms, and back forming A frame

Mental Note: Think you’re reaching out to pull open a big heavy door.
You need to use all your body strength (rotation) and have a stable frame (strong, fairly straight arms) to pull it open.

#4 Pull Through the Water

  • De-rotate as you pull and engage your legs to help you.
  • Put your weight on the paddle by pushing down with your top hand.
  • When sitting up during the de-rotation, lean forward a bit (e.g. 10 degrees). Avoid sitting all the way up.

Mental Notes:

Think your body is fixed into the seat and you can only rotate around a central axis. Rotate into the inside of the boat — your belly button should be pointing into the boat and rotation your entire body core and not just your shoulders.

#5 Exit and Recovery

  • Pull the paddle out of the water at the hip (i.e. when your paddle reaches your hip, pull out). Starting thinking about exiting as your paddle reaches your knee to be ready to exit at the hip.
  • Give a little push at the end of the stroke to accelerate the boat and make it easier to recover back to the catch. You can hear the sound of the water being pushed at the end of the stroke.
  • Make sure your top hand does not cross into the boat during recovery. Thinking about your top hand being over the water will help you keep your weight on the paddle and outside of the boat.
  • Lead the recovery with your top hand.

Mental Note: Think about pulling a sword out from your hip with your top hand.


Dragon Boat Canada, Bateau-Dragon Canada. (2011). Coaching Community Dragon Boat. Dragon Boat Canada, Bateau-Dragon Canada.

Royal Wedding in Communications and Storytelling Context

Royal Wedding in Communications and Storytelling Context

What in the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on April 29, 2011 captured people’s attentions and emotions ?

What would engage an estimated 2 billion people who watched or listened to live media broadcasts of the wedding?

Communications Goal:

Essentially, it was a story of love and celebration of partnership that engaged people around the world

Specifically, it is the story of two young people in love and their celebration of marriage. The wedding represented love, happiness, and promise of partnership between William and Kate. Given the people involved and their relations and backgrounds, there was pomp and magnificent displays, but the wedding could also be considered to show the pleasures of a modern, elegant, and down to earth wedding. The celebration also contained the hope for a bright future for the couple in the British monarchy and the royal family of the Commonwealth realms.

Royal Wedding 2011 in the Context of Communications, Marketing, and Event Planning

The media, marketing channels, and event organizers recognized the story of the royal wedding and how it could engage people.

Target Audience

People around the world like those in the Commonwealth of Nations wanted to capture emotions and moments of the royal wedding or experience parts of it through:

  • a piece of the happy moments,
  • ceremonial splendour,
  • the elegance of the wedding, and
  • share in the celebration.

To cater to this audience, events, products, and buzz were generated.


Events were held in the spirit of the royal wedding from children’s events, schools, businesses, and entertainment venues and outdoor parties with people dressing up, combining events with the media broadcasts, and majestic decorations and accessories among other things.


Commercial products were promoted featuring the wedding in some way similar to the events. Advertisers also used the wedding and royal elements in their marketing tie-ins and to prepare for the upcoming spring and summer season of weddings.

Souvenirs and memorabilia were also made to celebrate the event.


The wedding dominated social discussions, media, and social media on the internet (e.g. Twitter #RoyalWedding hashtag) in the weeks around the royal wedding in April and May 2011 ensuring it was in the minds of many people plugged into media or those interacting with people (word of mouth) who were engaged by the royal wedding.


The large amount of engagement and buzz the royal wedding generated shows a story of love and the celebration of a royal wedding between two young people with respectable backgrounds can capture the hopes, emotions, hearts, and attentions of millions (if not billions) of people.

Metrics of the Royal Wedding’s Media Engagement

The Wikipedia article of the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton cites several interesting metrics from news sources about how engaging the royal wedding was:

  • “It was estimated that the coverage would be watched by two billion people worldwide”
  • Viewership of the wedding was recorded by electricity use in Ontario [a province in Canada], where, at the approximate moment Middleton arrived at Westminster Abbey [… there was …] recorded a 300 megawatt drop in electricity use, which was attributed to [… people stopping their regular morning routines and watching the ceremonies …] rather than make breakfast or shower, and watch the TV.
  • In the [United Kingdom] UK the National Grid reported a huge surge in demand for power after the service, equivalent to one million kettles being boiled, when the royal couple returned to Buckingham Palace.