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The Best Loyalty Programs in Beauty and Why They Work

• by • July 12, 2016

Hey there, good-lookin’!

Beauty and loyalty programs are such a gorgeous fit, don’t you think?

That’s because beauty products are a necessity to many, and need to be purchased regularly. But if you’re selling the same beauty brands that are available at other stores, in-person or online, customers know they can look elsewhere based on price or a better shopping experience. That’s why, in this industry, customer retention is an absolute must.

Stores that sell makeup, hair care, perfume and other beauty products have to be smart marketers, using tools like loyalty programs to keep customers coming back to them, instead of running off to get their products at the next store.

So here is what 5 big-time beauty retailers are doing with their loyalty programs – and why they’re so darn good at getting beauty-minded ladies and gentlemen to keep coming back – followed by the 8 core loyalty essentials for creating your own program!

1. Ultamate Rewards by Ulta Beauty

Using point expiration & loyalty tiers to increase engagement

Ulta gets the top spot on my list for their “Ultamate Rewards” program. Why? I love the marketing, the setup and the personalized aspects. Birthday rewards. Double and Triple point bonuses on certain purchases.

It’s just an exciting program, and it’s quite flexible in terms of rewards. That’s because Ulta is actually letting customers spend points as money, instead of limiting them to specific rewards. And customers are praising them for it.

Their points do expire however, which can be a pain for the less-regular loyal customers. But it’s a grand idea for the beauty retailer, because putting an expiration date on points helps motivate shoppers by giving them incentive to spend their points, like, now.

A sense of urgency is never a bad thing when it comes to loyalty programs. Just make sure you’re giving customers a reasonable amount of time to use their points. Take into consideration how often an average customer purchases your products. For example, one calendar year may be great for makeup. However, if you’re selling travel packages or cars, one year is simply not enough.

There’s another great thing about Ulta’s program and that’s loyalty “tiers” or “levels.” That means, the more that a customer spends with the brand, the higher their status level is. The higher the rewards level, the more benefits the customer can receive.

Specifically, Ulta is asking customers to spend $450 in a year on their fave beauty products in order to reach the Platinum tier and get a higher amount of points for the same spend. At this level there’s no longer an expiration date on points, plus some other fine bonuses, like invitations to special Platinum-member-only events.

Last but certainly not least, Ulta has made their marketing for the program undeniably fun – and in such a colorful industry, I think shoppers should expect no less!

A colorful and fun landing page is how many fans of Ulta learn about their Ultamate Rewards loyalty program.

2. Beauty Club by Debenhams

Incorporating personalization and bonus point events to keep things interesting

Debenhams has something really nice going on. Their Beauty Club loyalty program is so, so easy to understand and their visual explanations make it even more simple. 3 points to every £1 spent. Period. It’s great, and makes calculations easy for the deal-seekers out there.

Plus they’re also giving reward money with purchases, which – just like Ulta – means their customers can use their rewards as a payment option when checking out. Once again, this kind of freedom that ensures customers will get the rewards they choose.

Another thing they’re doing is offering a personalized experience. Debenhams has actually partnered up with a super-well-known beauty brand, Benefit, to deliver a free brow wax on customer birthdays! Now everyone with eyebrows and a birthday can rejoice!

Oh, and since we’re always talking a lot about the free shipping that Amazon gives its prime customers, I just have to say Debenham’s is taking this up another notch, offering free shipping on online orders for life by simply entering a code sent in the welcome email. Cha-ching!

And, again. Bonus points. They run in-store and online events where customers can double or triple their card points, and get to their rewards faster. This is so perfect for omnichannel retailers, with brick & mortar stores and an online presence, who really want to amp up curiosity and participation.


These delivery and birthday benefits make me, as a makeup fan, wish I was in the UK!

3. Elite Rewards by Lancome

Rewarding non-purchase activities, and offering a variety of rewards to please different customer groups

Lancome is doing something so unbelievably cool with their Elite Rewards loyalty program. They’re rewarding customers for spend… and way more. If you sign up for their rewards program you’ll actually see they have a massive wall of activities to choose from, in order to earn points. Everything from watching their latest skincare video to writing a product review.

I get particularly excited about this, because this is precisely what we help companies do at Antavo. We do this because giving rewards only for purchases is quite a see-thru method of promotion, and isn’t actually building true loyalty.

In addition to the ways that Lancome lets customers earn points, they have a massive – and I mean massive – selection of rewards to earn for and choose from. And the fun can begin right after sign-up, too. So even the smaller spenders who are highly engaged with the brand can get their hands on fun rewards, like cool desktop backgrounds and Facebook cover photos.

This combination of rewarding many different activities and forms of engagement, along with a huge variety of rewards, is a great way to ensure brand advocates in all budget categories feel appreciated.

For the higher spenders, Lancome offers a set of exclusive experiential rewards in the form of beauty consultations with their makeup artists. They’re also offering a cool set of partner rewards that have nothing to do with beauty, for example Uber credits, spa gift cards and donations to charity. When the right partnerships are made, it can lead to reward benefits that customers will love.

One final highlight of Lancome’s loyalty program is that there’s an activity feed where users can see what people are doing in the program, how they are earning and spending. That lets customers see there are actually other people signed up and using the program, building a sense of trust and community.


Big spenders who are loyal to Lancome can access some brilliant and exclusive experiential rewards.

4. Beauty Insider by Sephora

Flawless app integration means the beauty giant is always in customers’ hands

So much has already been written about Sephora’s Beauty Insider program, that I’m not going to go too far into detail about it. Instead I will stick to two things that seem to be working quite well for the mega beauty retailer.

First of all, Beauty Insider has three different levels of loyalty membership, and I’ve got to be honest – the first level really doesn’t offer much. That’s why it’s so motivating to spend your first $350 to get to the VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider, of course) level.

Secondly, and even more importantly is their mobile app integration. Just like Starbucks, their app includes the loyalty card itself (so you don’t have to worry about a silly plastic card taking up space in your wallet). It also has payment integration! Hello, Apple pay. It’s just too easy! The third, and my personal favorite thing about the app, is that it includes the Loves shopping list.

So if I’m at home making a list of things I need (ok… want) on the website from my laptop, but I want to go to my local store instead (because everyone that’s been there knows Sephora’s stores are awesome), I can actually check stock at my store based on my zip code, and just go to the store with my phone, knowing that my list will be there waiting for me in the mobile app. Now both Sephora and I know that I won’t forget to buy that perfect shade of nailpolish.


Free beauty classes and personalized gifts are a few of the perks that Sephora’s Beauty Insiders enjoy.

5. Brandt Loyalty by Dr. Brandt

Tying loyalty and social media together to reach audiences everywhere

I’m thrilled to jump over to one specific area of beauty – skincare products. An online store selling a single brand in one particular product category, like Dr. Brandt Skincare, can definitely benefit from building a loyal following.

Sure, individual brands have one distinct advantage. Once makeup lovers find products they love, they can be pretty loyal to begin with, always coming back for “refills”. However, in an environment where companies are “making it rain” in product samples and encouraging shoppers to try new things, it’s particularly important for brands like this to give every reason for customers to keep returning. This helps companies encourage customers to try new products in their own lineup – instead of experimenting with the competitors’ formulas.

And that’s where Dr. Brandt is doing things right for their online shoppers. Just like Lancome, they’re really rewarding advocacy and engagement, rather than simply doing the traditional points-for-dollars thing. By emphasizing a range of customer actions, they’re actually making the online shopping process more fun and ensuring that the action spills over onto their social media channels. This is essential in terms of getting the attention of new customers who aren’t necessarily on the website…yet.


Beauty retailers selling one core brand can really benefit by encouraging customers to stick with them, and not with their competitors.

Sure, these are nice. But how can I create a program of my own?

These 5 loyalty programs each have unique elements, providing something that other stores can learn from. For instance, the programs reach across several channels, including social, mobile, ecommerce and in-store. Plus they provide freedom in customer action, letting customers choose how they want to earn. And they give a great selection of rewards to choose from.

So how can other beauty stores create their own amazing rewards program? Use our list of the 8 Core Elements of a Flawless Loyalty Program for Beauty as a guide:


If you want to learn more, check out the Definitive Guide to Loyalty Programs and to how Antavo can help your store improve customer retention and increase customer lifetime value, sign up for a VIP Demo.

And remember…

So make sure you’re not focusing only on spend, but on the overall experience. That’s what makes customers’ hearts beat for your brand!

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Jess Mizerak
Jess Mizerak
Jessica is a Loyalty Strategist at Antavo Loyalty Software, who helps our clients plan, launch and manage their loyalty programs. She likes to stay up the latest loyalty trends in the fashion, beauty, travel, nutrition, pet, toy and food industries. Fun fact: in her free time, she loves to dance, paint teddy bears, and learn Russian.