My birthday is next Tuesday and I’ve been using it as an excuse to browse my favorite cosmetic and clothing websites. I should treat myself right? No gift is better than what you select for yourself. Plus, I love a free gift with purchase. A birthday is often the anchor of any decent loyalty program so I’m justifying this as an exploration of current merchandising trends.
Sephora in particular has dedicated itself to a Birthday Gift franchise that women obsess over all year. If you are part of their loyalty program called Beauty Insider or Very Important Beauty (VIB if you spend $350) you get to chose a gift during your birthday month. There are a lot of other perks in the program but the birthday gift doesn’t require spending any of your hard earned rewards points and it’s free to join.
It’s a big deal for the brands to be selected as one of the gifts for the year by Sephora as it’s a great way to get sampling and visibility for twelve straight months. Plus Sephora kicks in on some of the hard costs. It’s one of the better gauges in the cosmetics industry of who is up and coming and desirable, but also has enough cachet that it drives desire around the program.
They generally offer one color cosmetic, one skincare brand, one haircare brand and a fragrance but it can be a bit mix and match depending on what trends are in the industry overall. And they offer up slightly fancier rewards for the $350 and $1000 spending tiers.
This year haircare brand Olaplex was so popular as a VIB gift that only January birthdays got the gifts causing some angst. That slicked back clean girl aesthetic bun TikTok wave and the brand’s IPO last year might have been too much demand for it to be a part of a loyalty program that is intensely scrutinized.
I have actually never used Olaplex as I’ve got low maintenance princess hair. I would have loved to try it in a sample gift just to see but the merchandising gods said sorry girl you ain’t a Pisces.
I’ll admit I was pretty bummed as it was advertised all year but I only realized it was sold out when I was able to begin my own birthday gift selection process. Guess I should have kept closer tabs on the beauty influencers.
Because I am VIB I had access to a gift that wasn’t initially pictured in the Birthday section. My theory is it got added in after the Olaplex debacle but this is just me putting on a tinfoil hat. I ended up selecting the Charlotte Tilbury gift. When I was the CEO of Stowaway Cosmetics we duped their best selling shade Pillow Talk many years ago.
I’d never actually purchased the original one from Tilbury as I simply had access to the original source contract manufacturer. I never tried it in matte as Stowaway’s original formula was a satin, so I thought “let’s select this” as my gift for the year. I thought it was a nice throwback to remember a time when I wasn’t a civilian but had access to all the cosmetics I wanted straight from the factory. And yes I miss it but not necessarily enough to go back. But I’ll let you know if I like the lipstick!