In a World of Promotions, Sales, Coupons and Codes… Which is Cheaper Sephora or ULTA?
Two of the biggest players in cosmetics are ULTA and Sephora. While other retailers like Walmart and Target offer substantial cosmetic offerings, ULTA and Sephora are by far the most comprehensive places to buy cosmetics from low-end to high-end. Furthermore, Ulta and Sephora offer more ways to save on beauty products like rewards programs, seasonal sales, promo codes, coupon codes, bulk discounts and other beauty discounts. So who is better? Let’s look at the details and figure out the difference between the retailers.
ULTA vs. Sephora Base Pricing
On a line item basis, ULTA and Sephora buy the same products at the same wholesale prices from brands in their store. Since they are big players, they enjoy the same amount of bulk pricing and margins are similar since they price match. These companies don’t win on MSRP..
The “Real” Price of Products Includes Discounts, Promotions and Codes
To really price match these 2 stores one has to consider all of the factors that determine the “real price” which includes promotions, sales, coupon codes, promo code and other discount mechanisms. These factors come in a variety of embodiments and can dramatically affect pricing depending on the timing of your purchase.
Like all retailers, Sephora and ULTA have holiday and seasonal promotions. These include Christmas, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Easter, Summer, etc.
Retailer Specific Promotions
In addition to holiday promotions, Sephora and ULTA have their own shopping holidays. ULTA has the “21 Days of Beauty” Sale. Sephora has a similar promotion called the “Essential Beauty” sale.
Retailer Promo Codes
ULTA and Sephora also have a number of promo codes, discount codes, coupon codes and other general beauty codes available at any given time Check with their site and other sites like Giving Assistant that specialize to get a sense of what is out there.
On Sephora and ULTA’s websites, they often have coupons for first time customers and general daily coupons that can be used at any time. Check with the website to see what is available. Note: these coupons change all the time so it’s best to come back regularly.
Brand Promo Codes
Often brands themselves will have promo codes that they are promoting for their products. Check with ULTA and Sephora to see if these promo codes, discount codes or coupons are available to use on their respective sites.
So how do you decide? Ultimately, the decision comes down to what beauty products you want to use. While 80% of the products that ULTA and Sephora sell are identical and similarly priced, there is the 20% of products that are exclusive to one retailer or the other. Timing is another factor that a shopper can’t deny. While promotions, discounts and codes are similar on average, what may tip the scale is what are available when the customer is buying their product. At any given time, the “real” price (base MSRP + promo + coupon + sale) could be dramatically different.
In 2022 and 2023 what will be interesting to see is the impact on inflation and supply chain woes. In general, this has an upward pressure on pricing but retailers are undoubtedly looking to disrupt their marketplaces and grow market share. It will be an interesting time for consumers for sure.
Tom Galido is a cofounder of Upright Data. His goal is to make sure that our customers are armed with the best insights to get the most out of their shopping experience. Tom holds a BA from Loyola Marymount University and an MBA from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. In his free time he is a science fiction / fantasy author.