Marketing the Rainbow

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Article last updated Nov 19, 2021


Sephora is a French multinational retailer of personal care and beauty products. Featuring nearly 3,000 brands, along with its own private label, Sephora Collection, Sephora offers cosmetics, skincare, body, fragrance, nail color, beauty tools, body lotions and haircare. The company was founded in Limoges in 1970 and is currently based in Paris. Sephora is owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH as of 1997.

Sephora launched its online store in the U.S. in 1999 and in Canada in 2003, and opened store-in-store locations in JCPenney (2006) and Kohl's (2020). There are over 30 stores across the Middle East, and there's a presence in Singapore, Mexico and the UK.

The beginning

Like other personal care brands, Sephora chose to expand their market by targeting LGBT customers, and showing its diversity via support of especially the transgender community.

The brand does not only pay attention to the rainbow, but also to other minorities. Check out the inspiring video of "How Jessi Overcame Adversity to Pursue Her Dreams".

Identify As We - Beauty (2019)

“I love being able to just arm myself in makeup and go out into the world. It’s the opportunity to invite glamour and fun and pleasure,” said writer and public speaker Fatima Jamal (@fatfemme), on the question “Does makeup make us beautiful?”

Sephora: "We spoke to the activists, artists, and stars of our Identify as We campaign to hear their unscripted and personal stories about belonging. We Belong to Something Beautiful." Sephora started Marketing the Rainbow a number of years ago, and has shown strong support for the LGBT community since. This video stars LGBT+ influencers and activists, such as models Hunter Schafer and Aaron Phillips, the brilliant trans writer Kate Bornstein, next to the aforementioned Fatima Jamal.

Both videos were launched during Pride Month, but the commitment of Sephora stretches beyond that.

$1 from every Sephora Heart Pride item sold will go to LGBT+ organizations.

The “Identify as We” launch also included a new “Trans is Beautiful” employee group, which by now has over 2,000 members. "All pronouns and identities welcome! Whether you're femme, masc, or non-binary, Sephora believes you can beauty your way with help from our accepting community."

Identify As We - We Belong to Something Beautiful (2019)

As part of their Identify as We campaign, which celebrates the transgender and non-binary community, Sephora presented "We Belong to Something Beautiful". The company came under fire shortly before this campaign for racially profiling soul singer SZA and ultimately shut down their stores for an hour of diversity training. "As a company, we hold ourselves to a high and public set of standards around creating a welcoming space for every client. We took an important step this morning with our 16,000 employees to further the conversation around creating a more inclusive beauty space. Our journey has not been perfect and is by no means complete. We will continue to learn and work toward this goal. We Belong to Something Beautiful."

It’s the Beauty You Give (2020 & 2021)

In the 2020 holiday video, we see a lot of diversity, including a boy wearing make-up.

The 2021 holiday video features diversity all around, including "One of the most natural kisses I've seen between men in an ad" (quote AdRespect's Mike Wilke).

"Give more than a gift this holiday season. Because the people on your list aren’t just names to check off. Share your favorites or discover something perfect for them, like makeup must-haves, skincare treats, fragrances they’ll love, and hair care they crave. No matter who you’re shopping for, you can find something special at Sephora."

My Revival, by Richaard (France, 2021)

In 2021 Sephora France also unveiled the official campaign of their new collaboration with beauty influencer Richaard: @sephoracollection x @ richaard2609. "Composed of an ultra pigmented palette and 2 new GLOSSEDs, this colorful collection is inspired by Richard's personal journey, and is placed under the sign of tolerance and self-acceptance, values dear to Richard and Sephora."

Sephora proudly announced to support the LGBT+ community by donating € 1 per My Revival by Richaard palette sold to the association @mag_jeunes_lgbt.

Corporate "Diversity & Inclusion Heart Journey"

The company's corporate website states: "Our Commitment To Diversity,
Inclusion, and Equity: Sephora believes in championing all beauty, living with courage, and standing fearlessly together to celebrate our differences.
Even if we stumble, we will never stop building a community where diversity is expected, self-expression is honored, all are welcomed, and you are included. This mission informs our brand platform, “We Belong to Something Beautiful,” which is our guiding light and motivates all we do.

Our work around diversity, inclusion, and equity is organized by initiatives that impact three cohorts:
• Our Clients

• Our Communities

• Our Employees

They scored 100% on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index and were awarded "One of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality" stamp of approval. 

Although the supply management shows diversity in selling 8 Black-owned brands, there is no policy in place yet as to LGBT owned and operated suppliers. 

Pride Month 2021

In 2021 Sephora also celebrated Pride Month on social media and instore. On Facebook and Instagram they added: "Sephora is proud to celebrate Pride Month June is all about recognizing and honoring the incredible impact the LGBT+community has had throughout history. As a part of our celebration, we’re partnering with The Trevor Project, a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to LGBT+people under 25 years old. This month you can redeem your Beauty Insider points to make a donation and support this incredible mission in the Rewards Bazaar. Visit the link in our bio to learn more about The Trevor Project, and stay tuned on our channels to celebrate Pride with us all month long. Illustrated by Leandro Assis (@lebassis), who goes by the pronouns he/him and identifies as a Black gay man." There was also a live shopping event on Facebook, with "the best of LGBT-owned brands from Sephora".


Classes for Confidence (2018)

In 2016 Sephora launched complimentary in-store Classes for Confidence for "those experiencing major life transitions": Brave Beauty in the Face of Cancer (launched in 2016) was expanded with Bold Beauty for the Transgender Community and Workforce for the trans and nonbinary community, hosted and developed by transgender Sephora cast members. They presented the 90-minute new courses as "Fearless is the new flawless" at 150 locations. Thery classes were accompanied by be a series of video tutorials on their various YouTube channels led by Sephora’s trans Beauty Advisors. The sessions were also offered in Canada.

them. reported: "To see a company cater to the trans and queer community not as token models in one-off beauty campaigns, but in centering us as essential to their community is a relief. By employing trans people and providing them resources through which they can help themselves and their customers, they’re showing that beauty and politics are linked, all the time, and sometimes wonderfully. To have one of the biggest beauty companies in the world hold space for marginalized people is pretty powerful."

Pride Month 2019

They kickstarted Pride celebrations in collaboration with Marc Jacobs, with donating $1 from the sale of each Marc Jacobs' Enamored (With Pride) Dazzling Lip Lacquer Lipgloss to various LGBT organizations through its Sephora Stands Charitable Fund. Additionally, they donated profits from the sale of Life's A Drag Color Palette from Manny MUA's Lunar Beauty. On social media they released a video " In honor of our founder’s own wedding this year, we are celebrating marriage equality with LGBT+ couples around the world: @themarcjacobs, @chardefrancesco, @senorwolf_, @rafahello, @inezzendeghi, @esmeevanleijden.

10% of the retail price of each limited-edition Gloss sold between June 6 and July 10 was be donated to Sage, an organization close to Marc Jacobs’ heart, up to $75k! Sage is dedicated to providing advocacy, services, and support to older members of the LGBT+ community.

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Pride Month was celebrated with 10 special products, among which "High-drama eyeshadows inspired by drag performer Alyssa Edwards", A Glitter Goody Bag, and a new, limited edition #Lipstories Lipstick called Pride with Love is Love packaging. It was a release in the existing series Lipstories, and it did not have just any color, but "27 Hong Kong By Night with a gold metallic finish".

Pride (2018)

ForWhilst other brands made efforts to give a platform to public members of the LGBT+ community, Sephora looked inwards when it came to the individuals they chose to showcase. In 2018 the brand cast its own transgender identifying employees as presenters for a series of in-store and online programming aimed at the trans and nonbinary community.  

One journalist wrote: "Although only a small portion of Sephora’s LGBTQ employees will have appeared on screen, the action speaks to a wider public demand for brands to echo their external facing views internally."


The Canadian operation celebrated Pride Month with new beauty products & rainbow-inspired makeup. Donations of $1 were made on the sale of a number of these items. 

To celebrate Pride, under the banner of Sephora Digital Event, The Phluid Project was offered. Founder Rob Smith and the various faces of The Phluid Project presented the bi-phase fragrance collection and campaign. 

Case study: Sephora

Branche: Cosmetics & Health