MakeUp Audiences MAC and Sephora
Consumer Insights
March 7, 2017

MAC vs. Sephora Makeup Audiences: Battle of the Beauty Brands

MAC and Sephora are two of the most well-known cosmetics brands in the world. Sephora was founded in Paris nearly 50 years ago, and has established itself as the “every-woman’s” makeup store. Meanwhile MAC, founded in Toronto in 1984, has a smaller customer base and a more defined, niche following.

What are the differences (and similarities) between Sephora and MAC makeup audiences? How could each brand grow market share by connecting with their own—and each other’s—audiences? Using Hitwise data, we analyzed the MAC Loyalist, who visits MACcosmetics.com and not Sephora.com, and Sephora Loyalist, those that visit Sephora’s website and not MAC’s.

The Demographic Gap

Sephora loyalists represent a much larger audience than MAC lovers—Sephora’s audience segment has a projected online size of 2,136,616 people over 4 weeks, compared to MAC’s audience of 165,353. Sephora’s share of website visits also represent 5.67% of the entire Health & Beauty industry, while MAC’s visit share only represents 0.56%.
Sephora loyalists skew younger than MAC lovers; Sephora’s largest age group is 25-34 year olds, while the largest MAC segment is aged 35-44 years.

Both MAC and Sephora loyalists are primarily women, but over a third of their audience is composed of men. Studies show modern male consumers care more than ever about personal grooming, and represent a growing market opportunity for beauty brands. That being said, male shoppers may be less willing to set foot in a brick-and-mortar cosmetics store—thus there could be an opportunity for MAC or Sephora to better reach and support these consumers on the digital side.

MAC Loyalists More Mobile

In spite of Sephora’s overall market lead, MAC loyalists have a higher percentage of mobile website visits (47%) than Sephora loyalists (40%) do — this is particularly interesting considering that MAC loyalists tend to skew older.

MAC loyalists are also more likely to respond to mobile advertising than Sephora lovers. They are 21% more likely than the average person to purchase products they see advertised on their cell phone, and 24% more likely to be interested in receiving advertisements on their cell phones. Meanwhile, Sephora loyalists are 11% less likely than the than the average person to agree with these sentiments.

Social Differences

Both Sephora and MAC loyalists show strong social media engagement, and integrate social media into their everyday lives. The majority of Sephora Loyalists (58%) and MAC Loyalists (53%) talk about things they see on social media in face-to-face conversations. Over 40% of both audiences access their social media through multiple devices.

However, there are some significant differences in how and why each segment utilizes social media. Sephora loyalists are more willing to treat social media as their primary source of product information, and they are more enthusiastic than MAC loyalists about using social media to promote their favorite brands. MAC loyalists are interested in the opinions of other consumers, but appear more reticent to trust or advance brands or products on social media.

We broke down the top social media websites visited before each brand’s website, and found they share the top 3: YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest. However, the 4th and 5th most visited social media sites differ—suggesting Sephora may have more success partnering with influencers on Instagram, whereas MAC may consider Twitter advertising or further promoting their Tumblr page.

Green State of Mind

Both MAC and Sephora loyalists have ethical and eco-friendly mindsets which impact their attitudes and purchase behaviors. 81% of Sephora Loyalists and 80% of MAC loyalists agree that it is important that a company acts ethically.

68% of both MAC and Sephora loyalists also believe that companies should help consumers become more environmentally responsible. They are 12% more likely to purchase a product from a company that is environmentally friendly, and are 6% more likely to agree that packaging for products should be recycled.

These attitudes are important for Sephora, MAC and other cosmetics brands to consider as they weigh their ethical, environmental and social impact—consumers are watching, and they aren’t afraid to decide with their wallets.

As fledgling cosmetics brands emerge and more established brands attempt to re-invent themselves, the global beauty industry will only become more competitive. It is more imperative than ever for cosmetics brands to identify the unique attributes of their own audience, while understanding how to distinguish from (or even partner with) established beauty brands like Sephora. In the case of MAC, they have found their niche with mobile-friendly Gen X women, who are eco-friendly, social media savvy and discerning about the products they buy.

Source: Demographic, social and mobile data for Maccosmetics.com website visitors and Sephora.com website visitors pulled using Hitwise’s AudienceView tool, measured over a 4-week period ending 1/21/2017. Visit share data pulled over the month of January, 2017.