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Target and Ulta Beauty team up to bring ‘shop-in-shop’ concept to 100-plus Target stores in 2021

Target and Ulta Beauty are teaming up to bring small beauty shops to more than 100 Target stores and Target.com in 2021.

The two retailers announced a new partnership Tuesday saying in a news release that it will “redefine beauty experiences, creating new opportunities for guests and brand partners and to strategically and collaboratively lead the retail industry forward.”

“In partnership with Ulta Beauty, a company that shares our deep guest focus, we are able to expand our growing beauty business with new, exciting brands, an immersive experience, and loyalty benefits to transform how our guests shop for all their beauty needs,” Target chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement.

The concept called “Ulta Beauty at Target” is scheduled to debut at more than 100 Target locations and online in the second half of 2021 with plans to “scale to hundreds more over time.”

This is not the first time Target has teamed up with a national brand. In October 2019, small Disney stores in 25 Target locations opened along with an online shop.

According to the release, the “planned locations will complement Ulta Beauty’s current store footprint, welcoming new guests to the brand and building upon Target’s existing assortment of beauty options.”

An early concept rendering of the distinctive Ulta Beauty at Target experience that’s currently being designed to appear in select Target locations starting in 2021. PHOTO/PROVIDED –

Ulta CEO Mary Dillon said in the release that the concept “reflects further evolution in our omnichannel strategy, rooted in unlocking the potential of our physical and digital footprints, creating more seamless shopping opportunities for our loyal guests and continuing to lead the beauty industry.”

The Ulta shops will be approximately 1,000 square feet and located next to the existing beauty section at Target. They will have Ulta’s “immersive, in-store digital discovery tools such as GLAMLab, a virtual try-on tool that provides safe trial across beauty categories,” the release said. 

Shoppers will be able to get free shipping on qualifying orders and purchase Ulta products using Target’s same-day fulfillment services that include Drive Up curbside pickup, order pickup inside stores and Shipt same-day delivery.

Moody’s Vice President Charlie O’Shea said in a statement that the concept will draw increased traffic to stores and online and “sets the stage for an expanded relationship down the road.”

“Beauty is an important category for Target, and this tie-up with Ulta will enhance its product line in many ways, including broader assortment and higher-end merchandise,” O’Shea said. “This is yet another meaningful example of the creativity the larger brick-and-mortar players are utilizing in their efforts to ensure increased store and website traffic.”

Ulta’s biggest competitor Sephora has had a partnership with J.C. Penney for several years with shops inside select stores and an online presence.

Neil Saunders, managing director of the retail consultancy Global Data, said for Ulta the benefit of the new partnership is increased exposure.

“Ulta has an incredibly successful track record and, before the pandemic, was posting consistently strong growth,” Saunders said in a statement. “However, Ulta has a weaker penetration among younger shoppers – especially compared to Sephora – and among those who purchase beauty only occasionally. Target is able to deliver both of these audiences to Ulta.”

Saunders said the partnership is a threat to other beauty players.

“Specialists like Sephora will be able to hold their own because of the strength of their brands and the underlying loyalty of their shoppers,” he said. “However, department stores and drug store chains – which have been losing customers for years – should think carefully about their response to this latest development.”

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