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ULTA’s Signature Brands

Welcome to Mardi’s Gras or Fat Tuesday. It’s also the day of eating 500 calorie fat bombs known in the Polish community as Paczki’s.

Recently I strolled through ULTA to see what their latest signature brands were. As I walked through the store (there was one other customer), I noticed that a good 25% of the items  were out of stock. ULTA is no Sephora when it comes to merchandising.

Pro hair care represented more than half the store which makes ULTA the biggest threat to salons. Their signature brands were all L’Oreal especially REDKEN and MATRIX adorned on the back wall. They had more hair dryers and flat irons than some of the manufacturers we buy from. Signature brands were Helen of Troy and Revlon.

OPI was certainly the signature brand when it came to nail care. The Hong Kong collection was displayed at the entrance and at the polish section. OPI itself was larger than all the other nail brands combined. Essie had many colors available but  mostly out of stock. CND color was not sold but their treatments were.

Skin care was a hodge podge and they are certainly weak in this area. DDF and Dermologica was the signature brands but neither stood out well. Make up also seems to be a work in process but certainly Bare Essentual’s was their signature brand.

Most surprising was their private label. In all categories, it was scattered and not well stocked or merchandised. I wonder what percent of their business is in this category.

Oddly, they are also carry many Target and Wal-Mart beauty brands and these too are not well stocked. What is odd is that prestige brands have allowed themselves to be sold with mass brands. Perhaps desperate times call for desperate measures but long term, I wonder.

No doubt women walking into ULTA are looking for salon wet goods, nail color and appliances. This is where they shine. Salons have the ability to compete by offering bi-monthly deals and having a nice, tight retail area. ULTA pricing on open stock items is the same as salons so salons can’t complain in that area. The complaint is the constant promotions ULTA offers. We offer plenty of the same promotions ULTA does so the resources are available.

ULTA is a work in progress. More importantly, ULTA is a wake up call to our industry. It’s time that we respond.

Happy Tuesday!

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