Sephora Named Top Beauty Retailer in New, Social Media-based Ranking

LONDON Sephora has taken the top retail slot in the latest annual ranking by Cosmetify, an online price search platform that measures beauty retailers and brands by their activity and popularity on social media.

Each year the company looks at the biggest names in beauty based on their social following, engagement and number of Google searches, and then gives them a score out of 10.

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For the retail ranking, Cosmetify looked at 20 prominent beauty retailers, comparing them on organic search traffic, Instagram followers, Instagram engagement rate and Instagram posts in 2023.

Sephora had the highest overall score — 7.65 out of 10 — and the most monthly organic search traffic, Instagram followers and Instagram posts.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: Selena Gomez Celebrates The Launch Of Rare Beauty's Soft Pinch Luminous Powder Blush Collection at Studio 525 on April 06, 2024 in New York City.  (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Rare Beauty)
Selena Gomez marks the launch of Rare Beauty’s Soft Pinch Luminous Powder Blush Collection in Manhattan earlier in April.

Beauty Bay, a U.K.-based online retailer, came second with a score of 7.21 due to its high number of Instagram posts and an even higher engagement rate than Sephora.

U.S. giant Ulta Beauty and Indian e-commerce platform Nykaa tied for third place, with each scoring 7.06 based on high monthly organic search traffic and Instagram engagement rates.

Other names on the retail list included Boots at number five, followed by Superdrug at six, and Space NK at seven.

Cosmetify said that despite having a low engagement rate of 0.02 percent, Sephora, which carries nearly 3,000 brands and has its own private label, appeared in more than 10 million Instagram posts, far more than any other retailer.

Although Beauty Bay came second, it still had a higher Instagram engagement rate than Sephora on a follower base that was a fraction of Sephora’s.

Ulta and Nykaa tied for third place, with Ulta notching higher monthly traffic, followers and posts than its rival. Nykaa had fewer followers and a better Instagram engagement rate than Ulta.

The research also ranked individual brands in terms of their popularity. Cosmetify said it started with a list of more than 1,000 brands before narrowing it down to 50 based on Google search volumes.

The 50 brands were then analyzed on factors such as annual Google searches, Instagram followers, Instagram engagement rate and Instagram posts.

Rare Beauty, the makeup and cosmetics brand owned by Selena Gomez, grabbed the top slot with more than 17 million Google searches in 2023. It also had 7 million Instagram followers and a 0.51 percent engagement rate.

Charlotte Tilbury was the second hottest beauty brand according to the Cosmetify ranking.
Charlotte Tilbury was the second hottest beauty brand according to the Cosmetify ranking.

Charlotte Tilbury was the second most popular brand, followed by Kiko Milano.

The report said Kiko Milano “has carved out a significant niche in the global beauty market. It emphasizes inclusivity and diversity, catering to various skin tones, types and personal styles.”

Huda Beauty was the top brand on Instagram with more than twice as many followers as any other brand at 54.1 million.

The report looked at other categories, too. Sol de Janeiro had the best engagement rate on Instagram, while the most searched brand in 2023 was Korea’s Oh K!, with 73.4 million searches worldwide.

Cosmetify said the brand “epitomizes the innovation, quality and fun that K-beauty is known for, offering a wide range of skin care and beauty products designed to bring the best of South Korean beauty rituals to the global market.”

The report also looked at brands on the rise, with Bubble Skincare ranking number one. It witnessed a nearly 3,000 percent increase in searches in 2023, according to Cosmetify.

Bubble Skincare’s Moon Walk serum.
Bubble Skincare’s Moon Walk serum.

Cosmetify said the brand was particularly popular on TikTok last year with more than 16 million likes. Aimed at Gen Z customers, it “has been dubbed a Drunk Elephant dupe,” the platform said.

Byoma, which promises fewer harmful ingredients, was ranked at number two due to its popularity on TikTok, while Qure Skincare came in third.

Qure offers LED skin care masks for acne, wrinkles and other skin conditions.

Cosmetify said that light therapy has taken off in the last few years, and brands like Qure “are bringing it from celebrity Instagram feeds to the home.”

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