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Difference Between Sephora and Ulta

Diving into the beauty realm cannot be complete without an analysis of some of the leading beauty stores. In the process, confusion blends in, and it becomes a tough one deciding where to shop. Two of these beauty product retailers are Sephora and Ulta.

Despite being in the same retailing line, the two have identifying and distinct characteristics that make them dissimilar. They are competitors, and one would want to invest in reading about their striking differences if they are always confused about which is which.


What is Sephora?

Sephora is a multinational chain of stores that deals with personal care and beauty products. Founded back in 1969 in Limoges, the Paris based outlet features nearly 300 different brands. This is in addition to its private label that features products made by the company and bear its name.

In 1993, Dominique Mandonnaud acquired Sephora and merged it with his perfume chain but using the Sephora brand. Dominique went ahead to found and implement Sephora’s “assisted self-service” which improved the sales experience. This saw customers get the rare opportunity of trying products in store before buying them.

It was later to be sold to LVMH in July 1997. It is then that it expanded worldwide and bolstered Sephora’s product offerings expanding it to offer cosmetic and beauty products.

Sephora’s Major Brands

Sephora features a myriad of beauty products. These include

  • Make Up For Ever
  • NARS Cosmetics
  • Lancome Cosmetics
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills
  • Benefit Cosmetics
  • Urban Decay
  • Too Faced Cosmetics
  • First Aid Beauty, among others.


What is Ulta?

Operating as Ulta Beauty Inc. and formerly known as Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc., Ulta is a United States chain of beauty stores. Headquartered in Bolingbrook, Illinois, Ulta Beauty stocks skincare and cosmetic brands, hair care products, and men’s and women’s fragrances.

Ulta Beauty was born in 1989 by a former Osco Drug, Inc. employee who had a vision for a new concept of offering both lower- and higher-end products in retail. He was later joined by his former colleagues, and together they raised $11.5 million to boost the venture capital which led to the official launch of Ulta Beauty in 1990.

As of 2017, Ulta Beauty had stock in over 20,000 products. As of August 4th 2018, it is believed to have had 1,124 stores in the District of Columbia as well as in 49 American States.

Ulta’s Major Products

Ulta stocks among them fragrances, nail, hair, and skin products, and makeup. It also has bath products and drugstore cosmetics.


Difference Between Sephora and Ulta

Listed below are the striking differences between the two beauty retailers:

  1. Year of founding

Sephora was founded in 1969 in Limoges France while Ulta was born in 1989 and formally launched in 1990 by Richard E. George.

  1. Headquarters

Sephora is headquartered in Paris, Frances while Ulta has its headquarters in Bolingbrook, Illinois, U.S.

  1. Sephora Products and Brands Vs. Ulta Products and Brands

Sephora’s brands include Make Up For Ever, NARS Cosmetics, Lancome Cosmetics, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Benefit Cosmetics, Urban Decay, Too Faced Cosmetics, and First Aid Beauty. Ulta also stocks beauty products, but their major line includes hair care and skincare products, nail products, makeup, and fragrances for men and women.

Sephora’s collection includes over 300 brands and over 17,000 products while Ulta’s collection includes over 500 brands and over 20,000 products.

  1. Operations

Sephora is a multinational retailer with a presence in different countries across the globe. As of 2017, Sephora had 2,300 stores across 33 countries. Ulta, on the other hand, is a U.S. based retailer with 1,107 (as of 2018) stores in 49 American states as well as in the District of Columbia.

  1. Stocking Strategy

While Ulta focuses on stocking both the luxury and affordable drugstore brands, Sephora only focuses on luxury brands.

Sephora Vs. Ulta: Comparison Table


Summary of Sephora Vs. Ulta

The battle of the beauty products retailers continues growing. The different retailers are in return doing their best to keep their customers and earn new ones. This has seen each invest differently and in varied approaches to ensure they reach their goals. All these strategies make the sharp distinctions between them and can easily help one draw a conclusion on how Sephora is different from Ulta and vice versa.


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References :

[0]Image credit: https://mms.businesswire.com/media/20161116005176/en/555383/4/Ulta_Beauty_Front_of_Store_Cashwrap.jpg?download=1

[1]Image credit: https://d53l9d6fqlxs2.cloudfront.net/photos/54444-sephorapng.png.660x0_q80_crop-scale_upscale.png

[2]Sephora.Com, 2019, https://www.sephora.com/beauty/about-us. Accessed 18 Feb 2019.

[3]"Sephora, Ulta And The Battle For The $56B U.S. Beauty Retail Market". Forbes.Com, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/pamdanziger/2018/08/06/sephora-and-ulta-are-on-a-collision-course-then-there-is-amazon-where-is-us-beauty-retail-headed/#42d85d8e55dd. Accessed 18 Feb 2019.

[4]"We Shopped At Sephora And Ulta To See Which Was A Better Beauty Store — And The Winner Was Clear". Pulse.Com.Gh, 2019, https://www.pulse.com.gh/bi/strategy/we-shopped-at-sephora-and-ulta-to-see-which-was-a-better-beauty-store-and-the-winner/wy1vqtd. Accessed 18 Feb 2019.

[5]Winker, Katelyn, and Katelyn Winker. "Sephora Vs. Ulta: Beauty Retailer Competitor Analysis". Digital Beauty, 2019, https://digitalbeauty.com/sephora-vs-ulta-competitor-analysis/. Accessed 18 Feb 2019.

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