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Sephora’s ‘Epic Rewards Day’ Fails To Keep Customers Informed

While the campaign was marketed with the promise “earn points, get rewards,” the chances customers would actually receive anything were deceptively low.

High end makeup supplier Sephora is in hot water with many of its customers after a much-hyped “Epic Rewards Day” program went terribly wrong, Consumerist’s Laura Northrop reported.

For days, Sephora had been building anticipation for its Epic Rewards Day. Essentially, for every dollar a customer spent at Sephora’s, they would earn a “point” that, when added up, could (at least in theory) be redeemed for discounts on store products. Reward points could also be earned from taking surveys on the company’s website or offered as compensation for unsatisfactory service.

On Epic Rewards Day, those points were to be put to deals and prizes of extreme value, some seeming too good to be true like 10,000 points for a trip to Paris to visitLancôme headquarters. For most of Sephora’s customers, “too good to be true” turned out to be correct.

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Sephora even offered point multipliers, insuring the most amount of people could afford rewards.
Sephora even offered point multipliers, insuring the most amount of people could afford rewards.

All day, the company dodged questions of when exactly the deals were to drop. Sephora’s Twitter account had repeatedly told customers that the deals would drop sometime that day but did not give a specific time. Then, it abruptly announced, to the astonishment of the chain’s followers, that the deals were all gone, seemingly in an instant.

It turns out, not only had Sephora vastly underestimated exactly how much demand there would be for these rewards and how many rewards they should stock, they had entirely neglected to tell customers that there was limited supply of the rewards at all.

While one can assume Sephora couldn’t hand out 500 trips to Paris, the company had marketed the campaign as a way for customers to “earn” rewards, not a chance to win them like a lottery or sweepstakes, which is what the campaign actually was.

Without that ambiguity, customers most likely assumed that if they had the points they would be assured a reward. For many, that meant a purchasing splurge to build up the necessary points for a high value reward. When faced with the fact that the rewards were not for certain and most disappeared in an instant, many customers felt they had been tricked into buying up a large quantity of products they wouldn’t otherwise have bought.

Customers blasted the company on Twitter for a deal that was gone before most even had a chance to go through the online checkout.

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There were a multitude of problems that led to the failing of this campaign, but the lack of specificity in the rewards program’s advertising is the main one.

While the fact that rewards were limited was discreetly mentioned in the fine print, most of the ad campaigns made no mention of this. In that sense, the Epic Rewards Day was marketed as something that it wasn’t. This indicates a lack of communication between the marketing and advertising teams and the business side of the campaign.

Rewards and loyalty programs can be powerful tools of customer engagement, especially when combined with in-store deals and promotions. But what gets communicated to customers must be in line with what they will actually experience, otherwise the brand is compromised and the company looks deceitful. Sephora is a large company and this issue isn’t going to destroy them. But the ill-will it generated across social media will certainly serve as a lesson for future, similar campaigns. If you want customers in the store for some promotion, make sure they know what they’re getting into.

Sephora released the following statement after the complaints were lodged.

“Sephora is committed to offering our valued Beauty Insiders exceptional rewards to thank them for their loyalty and for being part of our community. Yesterday we held an Epic Rewards promotion, and while we have held similar promotions in the past, yesterday’s promotion was the largest number of Epic Rewards we have made available to date.

Despite our best efforts to predict the response, demand was overwhelming, resulting in our being out of stock very quickly. We deeply regret this and apologize to our Beauty Insider clients who did not get a chance to participate.

At Sephora our first and foremost priority is to give our clients an exciting and fulfilling shopping experience. Those Beauty Insiders who were unable to get one of our limited quantity Epic Rewards, please email us by Tuesday, August 25, 2015, to epicrewards@sephora.com and include your Beauty Insider account number or email address associated with your account.

Beyond that, please know that we are committed to learning from this experience. Thank you for your ongoing support. We greatly appreciate you.”

About The Author
Daniel Parisi Daniel Parisi @daniel_parisi_

Daniel Parisi is a New York City-based writer and recent graduate of the University of Maryland. Daniel specializes in coverage of mobile payments, loyalty programs, and the Internet of Things.