JCPenney phases out Sephora mini-shops and expands its own beauty stores in a shift to “masstige” cosmetics

Wednesday, September 21, 2022 by Robinhood Snacks |

3 jeans, 2 glosses… 1 trip. As JCPenney’s mini-shop partnership with Sephora comes to a close, the department-store chain is building its own beauty foundation. Last year JCP launched JCPenney Beauty shops in 10 stores and online, showcasing 250+ makeup and skincare brands. Its debut was designed to offset the end of the Sephora contract:

  • Old digs: JCP’s Sephora partnership once included 570+ shops-within-shops (#InceptionRetail) and contributed to nearly 15% of its prepandemic revenue.
  • New digs: JCP is expected to open 300 more mini beauty stores (complete with in-department salons) by early 2023 and another 300 in the spring.

Prime(r) real estate… Department stores are prime territory for beauty brands to attract on-the-go shoppers. Last month Kohl's announced plans to expand Sephora mini-shops across its 1.1K US locations (which it expects will yield $2B in sales by 2025). Meanwhile, rival Ulta plans to open 800 more of its stores-within-stores at Target.

  • Affordability: JCP wants to differentiate by offering more inclusive products and prices, shifting its focus from Sephora’s premium brands (think: Bobbi Brown, MAC).
  • Inclusivity: Nearly 20% of JCP Beauty’s products come from Thirteen Lune, a site featuring 100+ BIPOC-founded brands. JCP is also adding indie brands that have never been sold in major retailers.

Masstige > prestige… JCP’s Beauty focuses on mass-produced brands that are affordable, innovative, and inclusive. With beauty fans still splurging on cosmetics (see: lipstick index), “masstige” retailers are luring shoppers with affordability and variety. Last quarter, budget brand E.L.F. grew sales 26% — more than double what Wall Street expected — despite keeping prices low on best-sellers.