Ulta Beauty Agency Roster

Ulta Beauty Agency Roster

Finding the Ideal Roster to Support a Beauty Retailer’s Ambitious Future

Helping a Winning Retailer Bring Beauty to New Audiences


Ulta Beauty logoUlta Beauty, the beauty retailer founded in 1990, had achieved a string of outstanding retail successes, reaching nearly 1,200 locations across the U.S. Not content to rest easy, Ulta Beauty sought MIG’s help in curating a multi-year agency roster upgrade and evolution in three key areas: beauty marketing, the future of retail, and a first step in international expansion.

MIG’s first task: find agency partners in advertising and media that could support them with creativity, an authentic voice for a diverse audience, and a cultural commitment to everything “beauty.” Second task: seek out innovative thinkers to envision how customers would interact with the Ulta Beauty brand for years to come, in a wide-ranging “future of the retail customer experience” endeavor. Third: assemble a trio of marketing agencies with a unique combination of 1) a knowledge of beauty and 2) proven experience carrying storied brands into new territories.

Defining the Right Kind of Partner


Our agency-search process starts by talking to each client stakeholder to discover what they’re looking for in an agency partner. In every Ulta Beauty search it’s been about finding agencies who could not only handle the scope but who would also align with the company culture and show a true passion for the beauty space. Once we’d landed on the right capabilities, culture, location, size, experience, and other “must haves” for each search, MIG could begin our work in earnest.

We uncovered key factors in each search effort:

  • For the marketing search (creative and media), we needed agencies who understood and showed a true passion for the beauty retail space, but who also saw what “beauty” meant to an expanding audience that had their own ideas about the word. The key factor was an ability to reach this increasingly diverse target in an authentic and compelling way.
  • For the future-customer-experience project, we needed a trio of agencies with a dedication to innovation and a knack for leading and navigating complex, multi-team processes.
  • For the expansion effort, we needed agencies with a keen understanding of the beauty space, the retail space, the local market, and the challenges that come with transitioning a well-known brand to a market that hasn’t had the chance to get to know them yet.

Uncovering the Best Fit for Ulta Beauty


For all of our searches with Ulta Beauty, a key consideration was whether to seek an all-in-one agency that could handle everything with a cohesive approach, or specialist agencies who brought best-in-class services and a wealth of experience. We typically presented options for both. MIG’s recommendation: because Ulta Beauty has such a savvy marketing department, we knew they could lead a holistic approach themselves and guide their roster of agencies without relying solely on an agency partner to do so. With stakeholder alignment, our goal in each search became clear: seek out the best-in-class experts in each discipline who could nonetheless play well in the sandbox. We’d aim to build, arm-in-arm with the client, a comprehensive roster of specialized thinkers and innovators to catapult the company to future success. Before we landed on this insight, however, we had to present them the best of every option available.

Developing a Customized Approach


The search process always involves casting a wide net, but as mentioned above, for Ulta Beauty we began by considering agencies who could either handle one piece of the scope or all of it. As one example of how MIG approached this complex effort, in the future-customer-experience effort, we developed a unique process to uncover marketing agency specialists in each of three design areas: strategic/journey mapping, physical retail, and digital retail. At the same time, we compiled a list of larger, general-purpose agencies and consultants who could potentially handle all three pieces. Sharing our recommendations this way gave client stakeholders a clear view of the field. This unique, two-pronged strategy meant Ulta Beauty knew all the options available before we agreed on the best approach.

Continuing Retail Success


In 2018, Ulta Beauty launched ‘The Possibilities Are Beautiful’ campaign, a new creative platform that promotes the idea that beauty is for everyone, and the first public result of their search efforts with MIG. With their full roster assembled, hand-picked to complement and amplify Ulta Beauty’s particular strengths, the powerhouse retailer stands poised for a beautiful future.