As the store-within-a-store trend continues to gain momentum, Sephora and Kohl’s have emerged as two key players. The launch of Sephora at Kohl’s is rolling out this year to more than 200 stores nationwide, and to boost awareness of the landmark partnership, the brands delivered a gamified, mobile-first activation outside their Ramsey, NJ location. Using beacon technology, the retailers sent participating attendees through a curated “maze,” leveraging push notifications throughout to encourage them to interact, create content, meet beauty brand founders and even request songs from the dj.
The mobile-first event strategy was inspired by a study that revealed nearly half of consumers in the COVID era prefer the option to navigate events from their smart phones. Sephora and Kohl’s leaned into the sentiment, developing an outdoor, mobile-led beauty maze that attendees could navigate hands-free via QR codes. The goal was not only to showcase the brands’ new partnership, but also to deliver a valuable beauty experience beyond the “Instagram factories” that were prevalent pre-pandemic.
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The activation was initially available to a few select attendees at a media and influencer event before opening up to the public. Consumers first opted into the experience with their mobile devices. After checking in, they were encouraged to visit and “collect” a QR code at eight different touchpoints within the maze. After collecting all eight codes, they had an opportunity to enter the store and spin a prize wheel (Drive-to-retail strategy? Check.). Five out of the eight touchpoints were beauty quizzes centered around consumers’ personal beauty preferences and interests—an engagement strategy that unearthed a mountain of qualitative data for the brands.
In addition to the scavenger hunt, Sephora and Kohl’s dropped push notifications throughout the event to engage attendees in interactive experiences like requesting a song from the dj and meeting beauty brand founders including Ann Silva, creator of the Beautyblender. Attendees could also unlock social filters and partake in photo ops as they navigated the footprint, adding a shareable component to the experience.
“It’s important now more than ever that we offer customers an innovative, omni-channel retail experience. One that provides ease, safety, convenience and accessibility to all customers and ensures they can shop with us how and where they would like to—in person or online,” says Jessica Stacey, svp-external communications, event and experiential marketing at Sephora. “With experiential, this is also the case. We seek to create equally enticing and engaging experiences that are safe and accessible in person or digitally for our customer base. This hybrid approach is the new norm.” Agency: TH Experiential, New York City.
Photo credit: Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Sephora at Kohl’s