This week I look at Sephora Sounds, a new social media initiative from the powerhouse retailer. Scroll down to use Glossy+ Comments, allowing the Glossy+ community to join discussions around industry topics.
Sephora is going all-in on music through a new initiative called Sephora Sounds.
The music collective, a first for Sephora, comprises over 55 emerging artists and 500 songs across various genres. Sephora will use the artists’ work for social content and campaigns, primarily on TikTok, where music has become a dominating factor in production and success. Companies have limited use of songs and audio memes on social media due to commercial rights, which arguably puts them at a disadvantage in participating in timely online conversations. Meanwhile, non-brand users can use whatever songs and sounds are available in TikTok’s library carte blanche.
“It’s a turning-lemons-into-lemonade approach,” said Brent Mitchell, vp of social media and influencers, about the limitations upon Sephora in using music for commercial purposes. “But it gave us this opportunity to think about how to do this in a unique way that reflects support as values.”
Sephora began creating Sephora Sounds at the beginning of the year and started incorporating Sephora Sounds’ music into social posts at the end of the first quarter. Within one month of an artist’s song being leveraged in a Sephora campaign, the song’s Spotify listenership increased to 30,000, indicating Sephora’s ability to help enhance an artist’s exposure. Sephora did not share social media engagement figures for posts using Sephora Sounds songs. Sephora hired music agency SixtyFour to help discover and vet potential Sephora Sounds artists. Compared to a defined single cohort, like the retailer’s influencer program Sephora Squad, Sephora Sounds operates on a rolling basis, meaning it will add to its original list of 55 artists. Whenever existing Sephora Sounds artists produce new music, Sephora will evaluate whether the team wants to add it to its music library. Artists receive a flat fee for participating in Sephora Sounds and royalties whenever a song is used in social content.
Artists include musical duo Inah and Yahzi, who make music under Aint Afraid; Korean-American transgender musician Ellie Kim; and Nigerian American pop singer Precious. According to Sephora, over 70% of participating artists said they have never been given a paid brand opportunity before, and 60% of artists within Sephora Sounds said brands have never approached other musical artists in their circle.
Sephora, owned by LVMH, has been doing very well. According to LVMH’s second-quarter earnings on July 25, organic revenue for the selective retailing category increased 26% year-over-year to €8.4 billion ($9.24 billion) in the first half of the year. Sephora specifically saw “outstanding performance” across the North American, European, and Middle Eastern markets, according to Christopher Hollis, director of financial communications for LVMH, on the earnings call. Sephora opened its first U.K. store in March.
Music and beauty have long been intertwined, with artists including Madonna influencing beauty and fashion aesthetics. Mitchell said music is now driving TikTok’s conversation and content creation to the point where people search for content via sound. A 2020 Ipsos study found that only 6% of brands use sonic brand cues in their TikTok ads, and only 3% use music. Yet, brand ads that used music saw 8x performance compared to those that didn’t.
The popularity of TikTok among teens and Gen Z cannot be underestimated, underscoring the value of leveraging music and sound. Piper Sandler’s semi-annual Taking Stock with Teens report cited TikTok as the No. 1 social media app, with 37% of respondents citing it as their favorite, followed by Snapchat and Instagram. Some beauty brands have already tapped into the advantage of using music on TikTok. For example, First Aid Beauty and E.l.f Cosmetics have created original songs for their social use.
“Music is different than one of your usual visual assets. We always talk about ‘sticky’ music, which has repetition. That repetition makes the music much more memorable,” said Christine Hunt, founder of Song Candy Media, which works with brands like Ikea and K18 hair care to create social media music. “Sound is a powerful storytelling asset on TikTok that is increasing brand equity, ad recall, and brand awareness.”
Insider our coverage:
L’Oréal reports strong earnings, driven by China’s recovery.
Cetaphil taps makeup artists for skin-care campaign.
Benefit eyes TikTok shopping for mascara launch.
What we’re reading:
What ‘nature’s Ozempic‘ says about the supplement industry.
Menopause has its own branded aesthetic.
Personal color analysis is huge for teens in South Korea.