Sephora’s Chatbot Feature on Kik

Julia Sellman
Marketing in the Age of Digital
3 min readMay 1, 2021


I am a consumer of Sephora. The store and site have a huge selection of makeup, with great brands and loyalty programs. But it’s important to try on makeup before buying it. And this process has become increasingly difficult during the pandemic. My usual monthly trip to Sephora has stopped during this time. So I needed to find another way…

I downloaded Kik, a phone application and bot service. I messaged Sephora on the Kik app, in the search for a concealer for my under eyes. I needed a new one, as I felt my previous drug-store brand wasn’t doing the trick anymore. After looking through some on the Sephora site, I was confused and unsure which brand to go with. That’s how I ended up on Kik. Brielle Jaekel in an article on Retail Dive stated that, “Sephora’s debut on messaging application Kik is a reflection of the push towards conversational commerce through chatbots and how to drive sales with one-to-one experiences on mobile that mimic in-store interactions.” Their strategy is to use these chatbots to increase customer interaction and even speak to Younger Millennials through this social media platform.

When I started a chat with Sephora on the Kik app, an automated greeting popped up. The bot asked me to take a quiz or two about the types of products and makeup I use. I’ve heard good things about NARS concealer, so I asked the bot to see some reviews. It came up with reviews quite immediately.

I then asked if I could see other concealer recommendations, and the bot responded to me “Sorry, I didnt get that. Which category of products would you like to see?” I proceeded to answer with concealer, although the bot seemed to have difficulty with my response. (See conversation below)

My Thoughts
The idea of Customer Service bots in theory is great. I can’t disagree that many consumers do have the same questions and are looking for similar answers. For those simple, straight-forward kinds of questions, chatbots like Kik for Sephora are great. However, when it comes to more complicated questions or even anything out of the specific range that the chatbots have programmed, the chatbot becomes helpless. I do recognize that this partnership with Kik is a ploy to reach younger Gen-Z consumers and Millennials, as it is ultimately a social media messaging app used by younger customers. In this sense, it is a smart idea and even if it just spreads brand awareness and drives more sales from the younger end of the consumer segment, the plan is successful.

Computers will never be human. No matter how close they get, it’s difficult for computer programs to generate content comparable to how the human mind thinks. With that being said, I don’t think the trend of chatbots is going anywhere. Although the Sephora chatbot on Kik is very simple and only has a limited number of functions, I do think there is a great amount of opportunity and room for improvement. When capabilities for the conversation increase, this chatbot feature will be way more helpful and there will be more ways to use it. However for now, it’s the most beneficial for customers to have a real salesperson on the other end of the conversation, suggesting and recommending products, which the Sephora website actually has on it as well.