How a Blog Turned into Millennial Favourite Beauty Company Glossier
By Tricia McKinnon
Glossier emerged out of the popular blog Into the Gloss which was launched by Emily Weiss in 2010. Prior to starting her blog Emily Weiss worked at Vogue, Teen Vogue and W magazine. The blog gained traction due to her popular interviews with beauty mavens such as Kim Kardashian who provided insight into their beauty secrets. Overtime Weiss became known as a beauty expert who had tested and reviewed hundreds of beauty products. The blog also enabled her to gain a deep understanding of what types of beauty products customers want. Weiss then translated a dedicated millennial readership as well as an Instagram following into a set of loyal customers when she launched Glossier in 2014.
Glossier is a mostly online beauty company which recently received $100 million in financing and is now valued at $1.2 billion. Instead of launching many products at once, similar to Kylie Cosmetics which started out with a small product line, Weiss launched with only four items: Soothing Face Mist, Perfecting Skin Tint, Balm Dotcom and Priming Moisturizer.
One of the key features of Glossier’s business model is that it uses a peer to peer selling model which is reminiscent of how Mary Kay got its start in the cosmetics business but with a modern twist. Glossier decided to capitalize on brand ambassadors, customers that were already promoting its products online for free. It created a program where after becoming an official brand rep for Glossier, reps are given a code which they can share with friends and family. If a purchase is made using the code they receive a commission. Each rep gets their own page on Glossier’s website which also includes a video introduction featuring the rep as well as their favourite products. Glossier has approximately 500 reps and this model has proven to be very effective with peer referrals generating 70% of Glossier’s online sales. According to Glossier’s SVP of Marketing, Ali Weiss: “even when we started ITG [Into the Gloss] back in 2010, it was never about beauty products — it was always about learning about products through people. When we launched Glossier, we adopted the same philosophy. People want to learn about Glossier products through other people, their friends, the people they follow on Instagram or watch on YouTube ... not through an airbrushed ad or a brand-appointed spokesperson in a department store. Our customers are what make Glossier so unique”.
Customer feedback is also an important part of the product development process. As a testament to this, Glossier invited 100 of its top customers to join a Slack channel. More than 1,000 messages were exchanged each week on the Slack channel and the feedback provided contributed to the development of new products. Weiss believes that listening to her customers is one of the keys to the success of the brand. When working on a new moisturizer Glossier reached out to customers to ask them what they were looking for in a new product. Glossier received over 1,000 messages which informed the development of a heavy duty moisturizer called Priming Moisturizer Rich. Last year Glossier was named one of LinkedIn’s top start-ups of 2018 and it was recognized by Fast Company as one of the most innovative companies in 2017.