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News & Events

Student Story: Welcoming ULTA Beauty to Campus

On October 25, 2017, the Retail Leadership Symposium class welcomed Maria Salcedo (VP of Corporate Strategy) and Sean Taylor (Director of Talent Acquisition from ULTA Beauty to share the vision, values, and employment opportunities of the company. ULTA is the newest corporate partner of the Kohl’s Center for Retailing.

Here are two student groups’ reflections on the visit:


ULTA Beauty: An Emerging Leader in the Beauty Industry

By students: Maggie Brennan, Sarah Karmin, Karly Nelson, Greta Schmitz, Maggie Spencer, Katie Steib, Zach Van Beusekom

Sean Taylor
Maria Salcedo

ULTA is the largest beauty retailer in the country, offering an extensive variety and assortment of products, a full-service salon in every store, and a commitment to personalized service. Maria Salcedo (VP of Corporate Strategy) gave us an in depth look behind what drives the company that is proud to offer All Things Beauty, All in One Place™. Sean Taylor (Director of Talent Acquisition) shared career opportunities and the skills needed to be an employee at ULTA.

Both Maria and Sean provided some useful insight into what the retail industry looks like right now, and more importantly, how it will look in the future. One of the main takeaways from ULTA’s perspective of the retail industry is that they acknowledge its rapid pace head on. They elaborated on this concept when they presented a real business question to the students: What can ULTA do to compete with a company like Amazon that is sweeping the retail industry?

A lot of what the students came up with aligned with what is to come from ULTA Beauty in 2018: focusing on their extremely successful loyalty program; creating more of an experience in store with their salon services; and working towards a more efficient way of shopping for beauty products with associates able to ship a product that is not in stock to your door with no extra shipping cost. Overall, they stressed the importance of growing as a company in the retail industry, but staying true to the values and culture that makes them so successful.

Ulta Rewards

ULTA has a clearly defined growth strategy with culture as their foundation. They achieve this through acquiring new guests and deepening loyalty with existing guests, differentiating by delivering a distinctive and personalized guest experience, and offering relevant innovative and often exclusive products that excite their guests. In addition, ULTA delivers exceptional services, grows stores and ecommerce to reach and serve more guests, and invest in infrastructure to support their guests.

One of the reasons ULTA is so successful is because of their large product mix. ULTA is different than other retail stores because they offer the largest breadth of categories, such as makeup, hair care, skin care, sun care, etc. all in the same place. In addition, ULTA offers products at all price points- there are both low-end and high-end products being sold in the store. ULTA has also been successful due to their real estate locations.  ULTA started opening stores in what you call power malls (strip malls) because those locations have cheaper rent. However, they are found to be very convenient because these areas have attributes such windows, direct sunlight, and parking directly outside which shopping malls do not have. There are 1074 convenient locations in 48 states- 90% off-mall.ULTA Salon

As the Director of Talent Acquisition, Sean discussed with our class the internship and job opportunities that are available at ULTA Corporate. He mentioned to us that ULTA is trying to do a better job at reaching out to college campuses in order to hire professionals right after graduation, and to attract interns who could be hired back for full-time positions. Sean mentioned that they are looking for juniors to apply for their summer internship, as they have the ability to house interns in all aspects of their corporate business, including marketing, merchandising, finance, and ecommerce, among many others.

It is important for us as students who will very soon be entering this corporate workforce to understand the importance of these discussions that we are able to have with such talented and passionate professionals from ULTA. They brought a depth of knowledge on their business to our classroom in order to encourage us to consider ULTA as a potential place of work. Their desire to talk about their business and their willingness to speak with students like us shows the open and empowering elements of this industry. We are able to aspire to be as successful and passionate professionals as they are someday.


ULTA Beauty, Leading in ALL Things Beauty

By students: Megan Pluemer, Angie Morrow, Kendall White, Brady Kelliher, Alex McLaughlin, Jessica Riegert

Our group with Maria Salcedo (far left) and Sean Taylor (right, in back).

Sean Taylor, the Director of Talent Acquisition, and Maria Salcedo, the Vice President of Corporate Strategy visited the Retail Leadership Symposium class on October 25th, 2017. The two represented Ulta Beauty and informed students on the structure of the business as a whole. Over 27 years ago, Ulta Beauty was created and is now known as a beauty retailer with the largest breadth of beauty merchandise. With over 20,000+ SKUs, 500+ brands, and 1,074 locations in 48 states, Ulta Beauty has expanded quickly and continues to grow substantially each year. In order to bring beauty to life, Ulta Beauty not only offers merchandise, but also services within the store to enhance the customer experience.

Ulta’s Values                                                                             

  • Improve Always
  • Win Together
  • Do What’s Right
  • Love What You Do, Own What You Do
  • Giving While Experiencing


Ulta works on creating jobs and offering rewarding careers.

  • 35,000+ associates–92% of which are women
  • 16,000+ new jobs
  • 18,000+ internal promotions, including 5,000+ women promoted to management roles

Beauty Category Opportunity

The beauty industry is over $134 billion dollars. Of that stake, Ulta’s sales and services only have 4% of those sales. This means that it’s a very competitive market. With that in mind, Ulta Beauty is targeting The Beauty Enthusiast. The beauty enthusiasts are those consumers that are engaged in beauty. Because of this, Ulta Beauty wants to give them products they enjoy. Beauty Enthusiasts do more than just replenish:

  • 91% of guests own more than 5 makeup brushes
  • 38% of guests own 5 or more body lotions
  • 77% of guests own more than 11 lip products
  • 68% of guests own more than 2 curling irons
  • 57% of beauty enthusiasts spend 45 minutes or more getting ready for a typical day

all things beauty- Ulta BeautyMaximizing Retail and Industry Dynamics

The experiential nature of Ulta Beauty’s stores focuses around: confidence, fun, joy, and transformation. They are looking for customers who love the treasure hunt within the store. The real estate model of Ulta projects store build out of approximately 1,400 stores. Currently, Ulta has 1,074 stores. Their goal is to open 100 stores per year with that growth progressing even faster in the future. Because Ulta Beauty is looking to become a much more innovative retailer, they have really emphasized their Digital Experience: to shop, educate, entertain, and inspire. The Ulta App provides customers with promotions both online and in-store. Another feature of the app is the Glam Lab which allows individuals to edit pictures and see what products would look like on you through a virtual image.

Because of their focus on continued rapid e-commerce growth, Ulta.com is expected to reach $1 billion in sales over the next 5 years by dramatically increasing distribution capacity and fulfillment capability.

E-commerce orders currently are approximately 40,000+ per year and growing. The loyalty program alone has 24.5 million members.

Brands that have been implemented recently and are making a huge hit with customers are:

  • Elf
  • Aquage
  • MAC
  • NARS
  • Morphe
  • Estee Lauder

ULTA Beauty StoreFinal Thoughts

Ulta Beauty has an immense amount of employment opportunities whether it be at the sales associate level, intern level, or even corporate level. We, as a group, appreciated the fact that Sean and Maria emphasized how important each role is in the development and growth of Ulta Beauty.

We also appreciated the fact that Sean and Maria wanted to learn from all of the students the different ways that their company could evolve in the future. They allowed everyone to participate in a Business Challenge Discussion. Their focus was on how Ulta Beauty can develop a sustainable competitive advantage in a world that has a constantly changing retail landscape. Students were able to give their input and provide them with possible ideas that they could implement in the future.

We would like to thank Sean and Maria for taking the time out of their day to come speak to our class. To learn more about Ulta Beauty and the careers they offer, please visit their site: http://careers.ulta.com/corporate/.

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