Sunday, June 24, 2012

All Beauty Clubs are NOT Created Equal

I have been a HUGE fan of Sephora for the better part of a decade, if not longer.  For a while it was the most convenient place to get beauty products.  Now that there are so many other cosmetic stores and sites for consumers to get their beauty products from, and most prices are set by the cosmetic companies, rewards programs are one of the best ways for merchants to stay competitive. 

While I am not an expect of all the merchants and rewards programs out there, I can only judge based on my own experiences and the merchants that I shop at frequently.  Of the stores/sites I shop

Sephora Beauty Insider Program

I have been a member of the Beauty Insider Program and a VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider) since it's inception.  The Beauty Insider Program tracks your spending and awards you one point for every dollar spent.  When you accumulate 100 points, you are then able to redeem them for a deluxe size sample upon check-out either online or in a Sephora store.  If you accumulate 500 points you can redeem them for an exclusive product or gift set upon check-out online or in the store. If you spend $350 within a calendar year, you are upgraded to VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider) status, which provides you were certain perks only offered to VIBs.  Perks often include early access to items not yet released to Sephora customers and special discounts (15% to 20% off) during certain times of the year.  While it's great to get a little "freebie" for every 100 dollars you spend, the deluxe samples are usually nothing that I want and I end up saving my points.   The 500 point perks are usually not that much better, and are often sets of items that I would not use.  Online usually has a better selection of 500 point gifts, most often giving you a selection between 2 or 3 different products.  Most of the stores in my area never offer the same products as offer online.  In fact, just about every Sephora that I shop at on a regular basis has offered the same OPI by Sephora mini set for the last year.  I have never opted for that set has it is always the same color, purple, that does not interest me.

The VIB discounts are nice to have and usually occur 2 or 3 times a year.  If you are going to stock up or buy a big ticket item, it is worth it.  Overall, I am not that impressed with the program.  I spend a decent amount of money at Sephora on a yearly basis and I just don't feel that valued by the perks of their program.  I spend well over the $350 to keep my VIB status, yet don't receive anything that special in return.

ULTA Rewards
Ulta offers a rewards program that tracks the amount you spend and rewards you  based on the total dollar spent. Each quarter, every $50 you spend earns you a certificate level to be redeemed for free products.  Free products remain consistent each quarter.  For a list of products in each level click HERE.

While I like Ulta for its mix of high end and drugs store products, I must say I do not shop at ULTA that often to really take advantage of their rewards program.  They have a great selection of drug store products that are not always found in the drugstores and discount stores in my area, but I find their high-end offerings quite limited.  In addition, the closest ULTA to me is about 45 minutes away. 

I have never redeemed a certificate due to either poor product selection or just not visiting an ULTA in time to get my freebie.  Their rewards program is really non-existent to me.  They do however, offer great coupons throughout the year such $3 off $10 (which are good for when you only need one or two things) or 20% off, which occur quite frequently.

CVS ExtraCare Beauty Club
If you have a CVS ExtraCare card you can enroll it into their beauty club which gives you $5 ExtraCare bucks for every $50 you spend on qualifying beauty purchases.  The Beauty Club is in addition to the rewards you already get from being an ExtraCare member. 

In comparison to receiving 2% back on purchases each quarter when you use your ExtraCare card, The Beauty Club gives you the equivalent to 10% back.  For someone like me who can easily spend $50 on products on one visit to CVS, it is a great deal for a drug store program.

Not exactly a rewards program, but Birchbox leads its competitors with birch points.  For those of you that do not know, Birchbox is a subscription service that costs $10 a month for 4-5 deluxe sized beauty and lifestyle samples.  You can then purchase the full size product on birchbox's website.  If you purchse the product within the same month you that it is featured in your birchbox, it ships for free.

Now here is where their points come in.  When you receive your monthly birchbox, review the product and provide feedback online, Birchbox will reward you 10 birch points.  When you make a purchase of full-sized products, they then reward you one birch point for every dollar spent.  For every friend you refer, you earn an additional 50 birchpoints.  For every 100 birchpoints you accumulate you can then redeem them for $10 off an order of full-size products (with no minimum purchase).  It's like the equivilent of everything being 10%+ off retail.

Even if you never buy full-size products, if you rate each item you receive in your monthly birchbox, you can accumulate up to 480-600 birchbox points a year to redeem for products.  When you think about how much you spend for your subscription, you are getting almost half back towards future purchases.

In adition to their birch points, in the 9 months that I have been a subscriber, I have received 20% off coupon codes every 3 months to be used on full-size products.

While Birchbox does not offer as an extenstive amount of products as Sephora or Ulta, they do have their fair share.  In addition, they also offer some great products that the others don't and which were totally new to me before trying. 

I feel most rewarded by Birchbox's point system.  I find myself ordering from them alot more often when I am ordering online and they have the product I need,  What is your favorite rewards program?

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