SAS’ capabilities help Ulta Beauty navigate highly personalized customer journeys

Leading retailer’s brand affinity blossoms thanks to cloud analytics, deeper customer insights

Thirty-one years ago, Ulta Beauty broke the mold on how to bring beauty products to consumers by offering all things beauty, all in one place, spanning price points and categories. Today one of the fastest-growing retailers globally, Ulta Beauty is focused on creating highly personalized customer experiences to motivate and inspire beauty enthusiasts while earning their loyalty. To achieve this, the company continues to imagine – and reimagine – beauty and retail expectations throughout the customer journey and has recently enlisted SAS® Customer Intelligence 360 to support its MarTech needs.

Kelly Mahoney, Vice President of Member Marketing at Ulta Beauty, will share more details about the leading beauty retailer’s approach and partnership with SAS to drive loyalty and unique experiences in a virtual session called, Amplifying Data and Analytics to Scale: Ulta Beauty’s Personalization Vision. Register to view this session and interact virtually with SAS retail experts during NRF 2022 | SAS.   

With more than 95% sales penetration and 34 million active members in its Ultamate Rewards Program, the retailer is rich in first-party data, a powerful competitive advantage. The company sought a powerful platform to manage such volumes of critical customer-level data. Ulta Beauty chose SAS’ capabilities to create and activate unique segments into the SAS Customer Intelligence 360 engagement platform. With SAS, Ulta Beauty has turbocharged its ability to use data to better understand how customers think and what motivates them, with the goal to personalize customer journeys seamlessly across channels.

“Helping our loyal guests find beauty favorites and experiences tailored to their wants, needs and values in a timely fashion creates an even more satisfying shopping environment,” said Mahoney. “The combination of cutting-edge analytics, advanced CRM capabilities and deep retail industry expertise that SAS brings to our partnership elevates our efforts to truly personalize each customer journey.”

Benefits realized: Automating customer engagement actions builds loyalty program

Ulta Beauty relies on SAS Customer Intelligence 360 to manage a variety of marketing and customer engagement programs – from credit to loyalty, customer insights and surveys. To date, the company has seen significant results in three core areas: automation, participation and retention. By automating aspects of creation and execution, multilevel customer journeys that used to take days now finalize in minutes or hours.

“The ability to manage multiple delivery channels with a single interface that has built-in automation provides our team with strong outputs and significant time savings,” said Melissa Berscheid, Senior Director for Member Marketing Technology at Ulta Beauty. “The partnership is valuable on many levels, and the more automated we continue to become, we can offer our guests even greater possibilities.”

Membership in Ultamate Rewards is currently upwards of 95% – a remarkable loyalty program statistic. This participation encourages retention as customers seek to reach levels and statuses within the leading program.

“Understanding the customer and deploying meaningful communications are essential in today’s environment,” said Richard Widdowson, Vice President of Global Retail and Consumer Goods Solutions at SAS. “Together, Ulta Beauty and SAS have evolved customer engagement through artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to turn fast-moving data into precise actions.”

The future involves personalized customer guidance with SAS’ help

Looking forward, Ulta Beauty intends to continue using the SAS Customer Intelligence 360 to elevate individual customer journeys – making sure the right offers are delivered at the right time and in the right channels – to avoid irrelevant offers and communications oversaturation.

Additionally, reinforcement learning will be added to customer journey orchestration to help guide Ulta Beauty loyalty members in effort to deepen brand affinity and engagement. The company anticipates this personalized guidance – as opposed to pushing commonly performed by retailers – will result in improved engagement, a better overall experience, and increased margin and revenues.

 “We expect our relationship with SAS to continue delivering significant results,” Berscheid concludes. “Being able to activate data in SAS Customer Intelligence 360 and apply AI and machine learning techniques, such as customer journey optimization, allows us to lead the future of customer engagement. It’s truly an exciting time.”

Want to know more?

Learn more about SAS Customer Intelligence. Follow SAS on Twitter at @SASsoftware.

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Photo courtesy of Ulta Beauty.