How Sephora won my entire Black Friday budget

I’ve been a loyal customer of Sephora since their rewards program was implemented. The ease of shopping online and the great in-store experience make for a lethal combination – for my wallet, that is. My love for Sephora almost exceeds my personal need to make ends meet, so this year I swore to do the responsible thing and reduce my spending.

Despite my determination to resist temptation, Sephora made me some offers I couldn’t refuse. I ended up making purchases during the weeks leading up to Black Friday, and then again just a couple of weeks later. Black Friday shopping is creeping up earlier every year, and it works! No other retailer got me spending the way Sephora did, and this is how they did it.

1. The offers came at just the right time.

Sephora understands that their customers want to test and buy their products beforethe important holidays – and holiday events – begin. This is especially true for Very Important Beauty Insiders (VIBs), which is a rewards program set up for shoppers who spend over $350 in a month.

The semi-annual VIB 20% off sale started in early November, just in time for me to receive my items before my first holiday get-together. This was key because I usually do my Christmas shopping for friends and family during Black Friday. If the sale had occurred during Thanksgiving weekend, I would have been too distracted by gift shopping at other retailers to even attempt to buy anything.

With my personal shopping done, I could do all my other shopping at a more leisurely pace. Sephora continued to pique my interest during the Black Friday shopping week with great gift ideas for my friends and family. Despite having spent a small fortune on my own purchases a couple of weeks prior, I loaded up the shopping cart with smaller gifts for friends because of the $10 Black Friday deals.

2. They kept me engaged with appealing incentives.

During the big VIB sale, I received a notification at checkout that my purchase qualified me for another year of VIB status. Sephora immediately sent me an email welcoming me back to the VIB category. The email reminded me of all the great benefits that come with being a VIB member, and threw in some extra coupons. By providing interesting content and the promise of more perks, I kept thinking about Sephora long after I’d completed making my purchase.

Screen-Shot-2014-12-03-at-6.49.28-PM

A week later, another coupon arrived in the mail: $20 off a minimum purchase of $50. I was convinced to take advantage of the deal and restock my must-have skincare products earlier than I planned – and spent what was left of my holiday shopping budget.

3. They provide a great customer experience.

Sephora is a mecca for makeup and beauty fanatics, and inspires almost religious fervor with its fans. There are very few brands I consider my automatic go-to, and Sephora is one of them. So what sets Sephora apart?

The Sephora shopping experience feels highly personal and not pushy at all. In store, knowledgeable salespeople happily dole out samples, teach how to apply products, and make personalized recommendations based on your style and budget.

Online, the personal experience is reflected in tutorial videos, how-to sections for every product, and a myriad of educational customer reviews. It never feels like Sephora is just trying to pad their bottom line. In fact, unlike competitors, Sephora doesn’t even actively promote its own brand of cosmetics. A strong loyalty program, well-timed incentives, and a great shopping experience have kept me coming back to Sephora again and again. My wallet might be emptier, but I’ll always shop at Sephora with a smile.