Ulta Beauty’s CMO Dishes on Partnership With Target

For Ulta Beauty, the opportunity to place shop-in-shops within Target locations means reaching a whole new audience while filling gaps in its existing store footprint, said Shelley Haus, the beauty purveyor’s CMO.

The marketing executive hopped on the phone with Adweek this week to expand upon Ulta Beauty’s rationale for entering into the partnership, which was announced on Nov. 10. The initial plan calls for installing some 100 in-store shops within the department store’s locations in 2021.

“We do know from analysis that this [partnership] will complement our footprint, which is fantastic,” Haus said. “This will give us the ability to have a presence in urban locations where we don’t currently have a store,” adding that the same thesis applies to some rural areas as well.

Haus said that the effort doesn’t reflect a change to its core business strategy. Instead, she characterized it as a seamless extension of Ulta’s omnichannel strategy, which revolves around providing more touch points for more guests.

In fact, Ulta Beauty still foresees having between 1,500 and 1,700 of its own locations in the U.S., separate from the shop-in-shops at Target, she said. She declined to say when the chain expects to achieve that number of stores. As of the beginning of August of this year, the retailer operated 1,264 locations nationwide.

Before the two parties nailed down the partnership, they were encouraged to find that nine out of 10 Target and Ulta Beauty guests were excited about the alliance. Target’s past experience with such collaborations was also a selling point for Ulta, Haus said. She specifically citied the department store’s ongoing joint efforts with Disney, Levi’s and now FAO Schwarz as examples.

“We see it is as two powerhouse retailers coming together,” she added about the Target program. “We are two innovative companies who are always seeing around corners, looking ahead to what’s next.”

Haus described the shop-in-shop as an “elevated presentation.” The outlets will be staffed by a Target team member trained by the beauty purveyor. It hinges upon bringing an assortment of marquee and digitally-native brands to life. She said it’s Ulta Beauty’s relationships with brand partners (some of which are exclusive) and the variety of its products that differentiates it from competitors.

“Beauty is experiential, and we think about it as the physical, digital and emotional coming together,” she said. “This brings a truly authentic Ulta Beauty experience [to] within a Target store. It’s a really immersive, standalone experience.”

In addition, both brands share a similar approach to beauty. What Ulta brings to Target, however, is a more high-end product mix. The brand is known for coupling mass market goods with prestige merchandise—and has already proven the combination works. She feels confident the “masstige” formula, as she calls the product fusion, will find success at Target, too.

“Both Ulta Beauty and Target believe in the democratization of beauty,” said Haus. “Beauty lovers curate high and low and that’s reflected in our assortment.”

Haus went on to reiterate many of the other

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