Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a Placer.ai account? Log In

Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With

by 
Lila Margalit
 on 
November 23, 2022
Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With

Over the past few years, Ulta has established itself as one of the nation’s leading retailers. Despite the significant challenges facing discretionary retailers in the wake of COVID and ongoing inflation, the beauty chain continues to experience remarkable growth, with second-quarter net sales increasing 16.8% percent compared to last year. In May, the company launched its own retail media network – utilizing its diverse and expanding customer base to offer partners targeted advertising opportunities, both on and off its website. 

Foot traffic data for the past three months shows just how strong the brand’s position is, both relative to 2021 – a year which itself saw marked visit boosts as COVID restrictions eased – and relative to its pre-pandemic baseline. Between August 1st and November 13th, overall visits to Ulta were up 27.6% compared to 2019 and 11.0% compared to 2021, with weekly visit growth trending highest in August and picking up again in October. This is especially impressive for a retailer that showed strong monthly visits in 2021, as most retailers have seen either minimal gains or even declines.

The Retail Media Opportunity

Ulta is also one of the latest companies to jump on the retail media bandwagon, unveiling UB Media in May 2022 with the goal of leveraging its own consumer data to advertise more efficiently. The network draws on data points from Ulta’s rewards program, which boasts some 37 million members, to provide a personalized ad experience. 

While the network currently focuses on digital channels, Ulta has noted that it plans to expand to additional formats going forward. And given Ulta’s broad and growing retail footprint, it would come as no surprise if the chain were to offer advertisers in-store opportunities. 

When it comes to location-based advertising, unique physical visitors – the offline equivalent of unique ad impressions – are a key metric. And a glance at unique visitor growth to Ulta stores in several key states shows just how well-positioned the company is to harness the advertising potential of its physical fleet. In both New York and North Carolina, for example – two states with somewhat different consumer profiles – the chain attracted about 40% more unique visitors over the past three months than it did in 2019.  

The Widespread Ulta Appeal

Ulta’s broad appeal across different states may stem from the brand’s strategy of offering a wide range of beauty products, including both discounted and luxury merchandise, under one roof. Recently, the chain has decided to maximize the potential of its diverse offerings by merging displays of prestige and cheaper products, giving customers more opportunities to trade up, as well as down.

A look at the demographic make-up of Ulta’s True Trade Areas (TTAs) – based on a combination of foot traffic data and census figures – shows just how diverse a customer base it attracts. In New York and Illinois, for example, just over 10% of Ulta’s potential shoppers earn more than $200K a year – while close to 20% earn less than $25K. In other states, too, the chain has positioned its stores in communities with significant economic diversity.

Attracting Customers of All Ages

The age distribution of Ulta’s trade areas is also diverse, with GenZ adults, Millennials, GenXers, and Boomers all well-represented. 

The median age of Ulta’s TTAs throughout the country – 34, almost five years younger than the median age of the general US population – reflects the chain’s special draw for younger shoppers. And indeed, in recent months the company has ramped up efforts to lean into beauty trends likely to appeal to younger crowds. Since 2020, it has promoted the concept of clean beauty, certifying nearly half the brands it offers as cruelty-free, eco-friendly, or in line with other “Conscious Beauty” criteria. Ulta has also embraced body positivity, launching its Beauty& campaign to “move the industry forward, widen the lens of beauty and inspire all to reclaim beauty on their own terms.” 

At the same time, however, the chain continues to attract a significant share of older consumers. In New York, 15.1% of Ulta’s TTA population is over 65 – more than the statewide average of 12.8%. The brand is also popular among older consumers in Florida, where senior citizens make up no less than 17.6% of the overall community.

Key Takeaways

While some of Ulta’s continued growth can be attributed to positive trends affecting the beauty category as a whole, it also reflects the success of its strategy of appealing to a broad range of shoppers, from different income and age groups. As the company continues to solidify its role as a major retail player, it appears poised to maintain its upward trajectory.

For more data-driven retail insights, visit Placer.ai.

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Placer.ai Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
In-N-Out Burger: What to Expect as the Brand Moves East
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Migration Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In
Placer.ai’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index
Placer.ai Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023
Placer.ai Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
Announcing Placer.ai’s COVID RECOVERY DASHBOARD
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight
Three Ways Retailers Can Think Small to Increase Store Impact
Offline Beauty Is on an Upswing
The Evolving Migration Patterns of New York’s Florida Snowbirds
Placer.ai Office Index: November 2022 Recap
How Viral Social Media Trends Can Drive Offline Engagement
Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise
Mall and Shopping Center Trends For 2023
Retail Corridors and Indoor Malls: A Holiday Head-to-Head
Placer Bytes: Nike, lululemon, and GameStop Update
Placer.ai Mall Indexes: November 2022 Update
Black Friday 2022: Consumers Hear the Call
Digitally Native Brands: Taking Off, Offline
Discount and Dollar Stores Leading the Pack
Turkey Wednesday 2022
Retail’s Evolving Holiday Season
Placer Bytes: Starbucks and Department Stores Ahead of Black Friday
Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With
College Towns Drive Dining Growth
Foot Traffic Trends Reveal Consumers Ready for Holiday Cheer
How Retailers Can Win Big By Going Small
How Are Consumers Feeling Ahead of Black Friday 2022?
Off-Price, Hibbett, and Dick’s Pre-Holiday Check-in
Ho, Ho, Wholesale: Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s
October 2022’s Retail Rebound
Target and Walmart Ahead of the Holidays
Home Improvement: Leave it to the Pros
Despite Inflation, Holiday Season is Off to a Good Start
Placer.ai Office Index: October 2022 Recap
Placer.ai Mall Indexes- October 2022 Update
Americans Double Down on Fitness
The State of Grocery
CVS and Walgreens: The Wave Continues
Coffee Chains Brewing Up Visits
Placer.ai Spotlight: Pizza Players
What Drove COVID-Era Urban Migration Trends?
Kroger and Albertsons: A Merging of Strengths
Texas Roadhouse Innovations Dishing Up Success
Holidays on the Horizon: Mid-Range and Luxury Shopping
McDonald's and Chipotle's Post-Pandemic Success
Announcing Placer.ai’s Q3 2022 Quarterly Index
5 Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023
Target Finds a Winning Deals Day Formula
Five Trends to Watch for 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
September 2022 Analysis: A Difficult Month and Time for Optimism
Inflation’s Retail Winners
Five Apparel Retailers to Watch Ahead of the Holidays
Placer.ai Spotlight: Wawa’s QSR Pivot
Placer.ai Mall Indexes: September 2022 Recap
Placer.ai Office Indexes: September 2022 Recap
The Impact of Population Growth on Commercial Real Estate 
Starbucks' New Makeover
There's Somethin' About Pumpkin
Expanding Offline Reach
Breakfast Restaurants are Rising in Popularity
The Power of Labor Day 2022
Tourism in Miami Heating Up
Citi Trends on the Rise
Reaching Rural Consumers Through Retail Media Network
Darden Restaurants Cooking Up Success
The Home Improvement Sector: A Sign of Consumer Confidence
QSR Is Having a Northeastern Growth Spurt
Domestic Migration’s Ripple Effects
A Look Back at Back To School 2022
Kroger Digital Tell-All
The Return of In-Person Networking
The Reinvention of the American Mall  
Placer.ai Office Building Indexes: August 2022 Recap 
Placer.ai Mall Indexes - August 2022 Recap
Five Below’s Back to School Success
Plus-Size Fashion’s Staying Power
Placer Bytes: Best Buy & GameStop 
Petco Barking Up the Right Tree