Sephora vs Ulta: Who Is The Most Socially Talked About Beauty Retailer?

Sephora and Ulta are the two beauty titans of the retail world, battling head to head to win over the consumers’ makeup, skincare and fragrance budget. To see how this war is being waged on the social front, we went to Instagram to see which of these beauty giants is winning the battle over the consumer’s social voice.

Out of the 4,188,883 Sephora and 808,762 Ulta posts visible on Instagram, our system identified 2,223,132 Sephora and 343,507 Ulta unique user generated stories that are clearly associated with each brand between January 2014 – July 2016.

Sephora’s Instagram stories were created by 487,034 contributing users, resulting in 263,645,942 likes & comments compared to Ulta’s 82,159 contributing users that resulted in 84,916,466 likes & comments .

A Sephora post has an average of 118 social actions and a median of 34, versus Ulta’s average of 247 social actions and a median of 36.

Or put differently, for every one user creating a story on Instagram, Sephora gets an average of 4.56 UGC stories and 541 likes and comments from the user’s social circle and Ulta gets an average of 4.18 UGC stories and 1033 likes and comments.

Where are they talking?

From a location-based analysis over the period of January 2014 – July 2016, we see that Sephora has a much stronger international presence and Ulta has a much more USA domestic focus in their social storytelling. Considering that Ulta’s business focus is US based, it makes sense that the location of their fan’s stories, 87% of all posts, will match.

What are they talking about?

To better understand the subject of the users’ stories we analyzed the caption of the various Instagram posts. We were particularly interested as to what beauty category was most often referenced by users. As can be seen below, both Sephora’s and Ulta’s related stories had similar breakdowns of order of popularity – with Makeup being the post popular subject and Fragrance the least.

We then looked at what beauty brand sold by each retailer are most often co-mentioned with Sephora and Ulta respectively.

Unsurprisingly, beauty brands with a strong social media presence like Anastasia, Benefit, Urban Decay, Make Up For Ever and NYX top the list. If you would like the full list of the brand ranking contact us here.

Stories by Brands vs. Stories by Consumers

As leading beauty retailers, both Sephora and Ulta are benefactors of stories told by brands as well as consumers. Below we delve a bit deeper into the difference between the social stories told by these different audiences.

Stories by Brands

We identified 6,282 Sephora social stories told by 165 brands resulting in 15,767,601 likes & comments and 2,072 Ulta social stories told by 84 brands resulting in 12,241,831 likes & comments.

For every brand creating Instagram stories, Sephora gets an average of 38 posts and 95,561 likes and comments from the brand’s following and Ulta gets an average of 24 posts and 144,735 likes and comments.

So while the number of actual posts is dispersed between many different brand accounts, the main of source of Earned Media (as measured by social engagement) generated by brands, 83% for Sephora and 94% for Ulta, is focused in the hands of a small number brands with major social followings.

If you would like the full list of the brand ranking contact us here.

Stories by Consumers

As seen below, social stories by consumers are the primary sources for Earned Media for both Sephora and Ulta.

For every consumer that participates in the brand’s social story, Sephora receives an average of 4.55 posts and 509 likes and comments from the fan’s social circle and Ulta receives an average of 4.16 posts and 885 likes and comments.

Winner and the opportunities ahead

From the data, it is clear that Sephora is leading the battle of social stories by both users and brands compared to Ulta.  It is also apparent that Ulta has a lot of untapped potential to tap its consumers’ to initiate a meaningful social conversation.

We would love to hear your feedback and thoughts in the comments below. Learn more about how Preen.Me helps brands tell their stories on social here.

Written by PREEN.ME