A study of the Consumer-brand Relationship Between Generation Y and Sephora

Sofie Eichen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis explores how companies operating in the Danish beauty industry can engage generation Y consumers, known for their disloyalty and distrust in brands, in order to build brand loyalty. The theoretical foundation on which the thesis rests consists of social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979), brand personalities (Aaker, 1997) and consumer loyalty phases (Oliver, 1999). These theories are used to analyze Danish generation Y consumers’ behavior and willingness to engage in beauty brands in the context of a qualitative case study of Sephora. My thesis shows that the social identities of Danish generation Y consumers have an effect on their behavior towards brands. It is, thereby, suggested that the social groups in which consumers take part can influence whether they identify with a certain beauty brand as well as their willingness to test new brands. As a result, the consumers’ own conception of their social identity has an impact on their brand engagement and brand loyalty. Furthermore, the results of the thesis indicate that the concept of brand personalities is an important source of consumer engagement due to its differentiation possibilities. However, brand personalities cannot be used on their own to create brand engagement amongst consumers who, beforehand, have portrayed low engagement, and brand personalities must, therefore, be part of a larger engagement strategy. Lastly, the results of the thesis suggest a difference in generation Y consumers’ loyalty when it comes to different beauty product categories, such as skin care and make-up products. Brand loyalty and brand trust can be influenced by repeated positive brand experiences and by giving the consumer the option to try products themselves before a purchase. The biggest obstacle for building brand trust in Sephora seems to be how other companies in the Danish beauty industry act, though these are out of Sephora’s control. In other words, other beauty companies’ behavior in relation to the environment, what consumers perceive as unethical communication as well as marketing activities influences the brand trust of all companies within the industry, including Sephora. The thesis discusses how the abovementioned findings affect how companies in the Danish beauty industry can engage generation Y in their brands. The methods suggested to increase brand trust are questioned, and a view of other beauty brands’ communication campaigns are included in order to assess how brand engagement can be worked with in the industry.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages138