Sephora Deepens Its Commitment To CBD Beauty With New Endcaps Focused On The Ingredient
Is CBD beauty passé? Not according to the industry’s marquee prestige retailer, Sephora.
The beauty specialty chain is deepening its commitment to the hemp-derived cannabinoid with new CBD Skincare endcaps at 180 locations nationwide. The endcaps house 17 face, bath and body care items priced from $15 to $125 from Sephora’s three anchor CBD beauty brands: Lord Jones, Prima and Saint Jane. Prima, a certified B Corp, is the only brand in the trio that’s part of the retailer’s Clean Plus Program. With the arrival of the endcaps, the brand has doubled its in-store stockkeeping count at Sephora by rolling out two of its online bestsellers, Bath Gem and Beyond Body Oil, at brick-and-mortar locations.
The three brands had in-store presences prior to the initiative. Lord Jones had dedicated endcaps in around 20 stores, and Prima was in about 280 stores on Sephora’s Next Big Thing wall. However, the initiative marks the first time Sephora is explicitly advertising CBD merchandise in its stores.
“The fact that there is now a display surrounded by education and content and a real brand moment instead of it being an ad hoc feature on a back wall, in my mind, signifies the evolution of the industry, taking CBD from a trend to a permanent, here-to-stay part of clean beauty, which is a big moment for the industry,” says Jessica Assaf, co-founder and chief education officer at Prima. Assaf divulges that the brands didn’t pay to enter the endcaps, but did pay for their buildout and design.
Prima co-founder and COO Laurel Angelica Myers praises the move as speaking to Sephora’s belief in the efficacy of CBD as a botanical skincare ingredient. “It says they want to be the retailer that is known for CBD and to bring it to shoppers looking for that plant-based, science-backed efficacy to drive skincare benefits.” says Myers, noting that Prima has been advocating for an initiative like the CBD Skincare endcaps since they first partnered with the retailer two years ago. “We were continually suggesting, ‘Maybe you should think about an endcap. If we give it some exposure, then it has the ability to really take off,’” she says.
Prima sales have taken off overall. It has experienced 142% year-over-year growth in its wholesale business and 77% year-over-year growth in its direct-to-consumer business. The sales progress is indicative of robust demand for CBD products. And Cindy Deily, VP of skincare merchandising at Sephora’s vice president, explains Sephora customers’ strong interest in CBD is a key driver behind the endcap initiative.
“At Sephora, we have seen CBD, and our assortment of CBD-infused skincare products, as one of the categories that our clients turn to when looking to expand their skincare regimens,” says Deily. “As we plan for the future, we’ll continue to take cues from our beauty community, who continue to respond favorably to our current brand assortment in this category.”
A goal of the CBD Skincare endcaps is to provide education on the benefits of the cannabinoid. Store associates could access training videos for every product via Sephora’s employee brand portal. Assaf details, the scripts were reviewed for compliance. “They definitely are conservative in compliance, as they should be, and we respect them for it, and there’s still a way to talk about the therapeutic benefits in a more broad way,” she says. “They’re definitely partnering with us in that, but they’re not shying away from the fact that it’s really powerful active.”
Sephora has approached CBD in a measured yet consistent way since the passing of the federal Farm Bill in 2018 that made the hemp trade legal in the United States. That year, it broke into CBD with Lord Jones, initially selling the brand online before placing it in 170-plus stores in 2019. Today, it’s the chain’s number one CBD brand. CBD specialist Flora + Bast went live on Sephora’s website in 2019. By that time, beauty brands like Josie Maran, Peter Thomas Roth and Kiehl’s Since 1851 had created CBD-infused products picked up by Sephora. The brands Herbivore Botanicals, Ellis Brooklyn, Farmacy, Heretic Parfum and Briogeo later added CBD products to Sephora’s assortment. Today, Sephora’s dot-com CBD collection has just under 50 products from around a dozen companies.
In January 2020, Sephora introduced Saint Jane. Like previous CBD brands, Saint Jane began online in advance of migrating into stores. In its case, it landed at 280 doors. In February 2020, Prima launched online at the beauty chain with its bath bomb Bath Gem, body butter Skin Therapy, facial oil Night Magic and pain-relieving cream R&R Cream as well as two facial care items, The Afterglow and Enlightenment Serum. Concurrent with Prima’s launch, Sephora released its CBD standard. Developed with guidance from Prima and Lord Jones, the guidelines are intended to increase transparency around CBD products.
Lord Jones sales director Samantha Afonso underscores the CBD Skincare endcaps are a testament to how important the CBD category has become. “Lord Jones has always stood for helping educate consumers on the category,” she says. “Building relationships with our consumers through Sephora has been key for Lord Jones. We love being part of Sephora’s shoppers’ beauty and wellness rituals.”
Of course, an endcap is not a panacea for the myriad of issues CBD beauty and wellness brands face. They deal with persistent payment processing problems, restricted SMS marketing and difficulties advertising on social media platforms. Given the rocky environment, Prima co-founder and CEO Christopher Gavigan laments that retailers such as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned Sephora are forced to be the de facto regulators of hemp-infused beauty today.
“With the prolonged delay and dysfunction at the federal level, it’s tremendously powerful and meaningful for Sephora to take a leadership position and co-create a set of standards with Prima to distinguish quality, transparency, accountability and purity for cannabinoid products,” he says. “To have a fully dedicated place and space, Sephora/LVMH is strongly showcasing the importance of botanical therapeutics and truly functional ingredients within the stores that are clinically validated and consciously crafted for the consumer who is needing body care and skin care that works to replenish and restore their whole body from within.”