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As Sephora’s SVP of Integrated Marketing and Brand, Abigail Jacobs emerges as an innovative leader shaping the industry’s narrative. With a passion and commitment to inclusivity, Abigail has overseen purpose-driven campaigns like “We Belong to Something Beautiful” and pioneered the acclaimed “Sephora Squad” influencer program. Here, she shares how her team is showcasing the next big things in beauty, her predictions around generative AI, and the humbling way she views leadership. 

Every marketer should read…

“For the Culture” by Marcus Collins

What gives me energy outside of work

“Being in nature as much as I can, usually with my dog.”

Future of Marketing

Q: What one thing coming down the pike for marketing are you most excited about?

The use of generative AI will have the greatest impact on marketing in the next few years. On one side, I’m excited about what this means for productivity and efficiency, but I’m cautious about its impact on authenticity and trust in brands. In the beauty space a few years ago, several brands rolled out ‘no retouching’ policies in their marketing, driven by a growing lack of trust and a demand by consumers to have things presented to them in their real and unaltered state. AI takes this to another level and may drive some of the same types of consumer demands.  

Q: What widely accepted “marketing truth” or concept do you wish the industry would do away with or evolve?  

The push for immediate measurement and quantifiable results. I realize this may be difficult to tell your leadership (and if you have tips, please share), but sometimes this pushes us toward short-term vanity metrics that do not help to elucidate insights or correlate with business outcomes. 

Marketing at Sephora

Q: What’s something exciting you’re currently working on?  

We’re currently thinking about a number of ways to tell this Sephora story and highlight the brands and products that are or will soon be the “next big thing.” The number one reason people visit us and become loyal customers is because they love the brands and products that can only be found at Sephora. We’re known for our ability to find brands with potential, incubate them, nurture them, and then support their successful introduction to the world.

Q: What’s the most pressing business challenge you’ve faced within the last year, and how have you tried to solve it?  

The most pressing challenge for me is being a great leader. This means supporting my team, keeping them inspired, engaged, and wanting to come to work every day. Business challenges will come and go, but none of them can be addressed effectively without a highly functioning team. For me, this is about being transparent, honest, maintaining integrity in everything I do, and recognizing that work is only one part—at many times a very small part—of someone’s whole being.  

Career and Leadership Advice

Q: What’s the most game-changing career advice you’ve ever received?

Push yourself to separate ‘the work’ from ‘the person doing it’ (i.e., you). This will allow you to see that the work can always get better. The second best piece of advice: you don’t have to earn rest.  

Q: What leadership muscle is most important for marketers to exercise?

Emotional intelligence, self-awareness, empathy, and the willingness to see and consider problems through our internal partners’ and customers’ eyes.  

Marketers to Watch is a recognition series to spotlight highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing leaders in the community. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the series, click here.