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08/30/2021

Sephora Black-owned brand campaign includes AI-based shade matching

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Sephora Black Owned Beauty
Sephora is unveiling a Black-owned branding campaign.

Sephora is reaching out to African-American customers with targeted products and promotions, as well as artificial intelligence (AI)-enhanced foundation shopping.

The leading specialty beauty retailer is unveiling its first-ever Black-owned brand campaign to further recognize and celebrate the contributions that Black culture and innovators have made to the beauty industry. The campaign follows the launch earlier in August of a short statement film called “Black Beauty is Beauty.”

Sephora is also highlighting Black-owned brands and founders, including Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross, Briogeo, adwoa beauty, Bread Beauty Supply, Fenty Beauty, Forvr Mood, Pat McGrath Labs, LYS Beauty, Danessa Myricks Beauty, and Fashion Fair.

Sephora also announced it will unveil its new Sephora Color iQ foundation matching service in stores. Color iQ will feature new AI technology to assist all customers in finding their best foundation match. Current shade matching in the industry only accounts for depth and undertone, while Sephora's new Color iQ technology accounts for depth, undertone, and saturation to recommend the best products that closely match customer skin tones.

Color iQ technology scans the surface of the skin and assigns it a “Color iQ” number, which reveals scientifically precise foundation, concealer, and lip recommendations, according to Sephora. The solution leverages a proprietary algorithm that provides clients with a dataset of over 10,000 skin tones, suitable across all shade ranges. Sephora currently offers more than 8,000 foundation SKUs.

[Read more: Sephora to grow U.S. footprint; partnering with treatment services company]

Sephora’s efforts to reach out to Black customers are part of a larger comprehensive plan named the Sephora D&I Heart Journey, which commits to tackling bias and promoting equality across all aspects of the organization. Sephora says it will continue this initiative across all facets of the business, with a growing, diverse assortment of brands and a more inclusive and equitable shopping experience for all.

The retailer is also holding its inclusive “Sephoria” virtual beauty event on September 18. The event will offer a game-like, 3D environment featuring an interactive beauty “house” with multiple rooms to explore. Attendees will receive access to both live and pre-recorded, inclusion-focused content from Sephora brands, beauty icons, and other surprise guests. Attendees can also “meet” brand founders and experts, play virtual games with chances to win Sephora merchandise, take selfies in virtual photo booths, and more.

“Many of the tools, techniques, iconic looks and trends in beauty exist because of the Black community, driven by Black beauty needs and innovation,” said Priya Venkatesh, senior VP of merchandising at Sephora. “However, these contributions have historically been under-recognized or for most, unknown. At Sephora, we want to help move the conversation forward, bringing awareness and education surrounding the impact of Black beauty in our daily lives. This campaign spotlights our Black-owned brands, championing the excellence and efficacy of their innovative products, for all Sephora beauty shoppers. Through this campaign, we aim to make beauty a more welcoming, supportive, and collaborative space, for all.”

Sephora operates more than 500 stores across North America.