The inspiration for Glossier stemmed from founder Emily Weiss’ blog, Into the Gloss, where her posts about beauty products and ultimate readership response helped identify a gap in the beauty industry. Glossier was founded in 2014 and strives to involve beauty consumers in the product creation process, a need existing beauty companies were not fulfilling. The company sells skincare products catered largely to millennial consumers and targets them via online channels. Glossier is a digital winner due to its direct to consumer strategy, forgoing brick and mortar stores for e-commerce and social media to create a new type of consumer experience. Specifically, they have been able to capture value via an interconnected system of content, co-creation, and online community.
Glossier’s competitive advantage stems from their extremely engaged and loyal online community, which they have worked hard to maintain and grow from its beginning on Into the Gloss. The blog changed the focus of conversation from the product to the person wearing the product. This approach of speaking candidly about a range of topics allowed Glossier to become a beauty authority and develop a unique, trusted voice. Now known as the “Glossier Girls,” the community’s relationships are based on digital content that allows customers to connect and help one another discover beauty products. Glossier successfully inspires and activates the community to talk about beauty with one another and to bring others into the fold, increasing their customer base. This strengthens the ties that other members have to the community and increases the authenticity of communications posted by the company. Glossier has been able to capture value from the community by turning likes and engagement into sales and free marketing. Additionally, the community has been a vital part of Glossier’s product development, offering new ideas and honest feedback.
Digital Content Strategy
Boasting over 2.6 million Instagram followers, Glossier’s main driver of growth has been their innovative digital content strategy. Glossier combines their own product focused content with user-generated content about real product experiences. Consumers are 40% more likely to buy beauty products based on a friend’s recommendation and they capitalize on this insight by re-posting user content. Glossier’s own product posts are therefore validated by the community, leading to higher sales. Glossier has been able to capture value from this new digital version of word of mouth marketing. In addition to their social media content strategy, Glossier has optimized other portions of their business model for social media. The company designs their product packaging to photograph well and includes stickers for consumers to make products their own, encouraging them to post product moments. Through these platforms, Glossier has been able to capture tremendous amounts of value from virality of content only made possible in the digital era. Glossier has effectively turned each one of their customers into a product evangelist and recognizes that digital channels allow each sale to become an opportunity for additional community engagement. Social media has greatly lowered Glossier’s product development and marketing costs compared to the traditional methods in the industry. Additionally, it has allowed Glossier to benefit from a faster product development life-cycle, which in turn keeps their consumers engaged and encourages more purchases.
Unlike beauty incumbents, Glossier has a unique direct relationship with their consumers. A key driver of this relationship is the authentic, two-way communication that is achieved via Into the Gloss and social media platforms. Glossier has been able to leverage these online channels to make products specifically for their audiences. Their content encourages conversations about customers wants and needs, often leading to new product ideas and existing product adjustments. Glossier has created a new type of digital focus group with much lower costs and reduced time to collect feedback. Because they are digitally native, they better capture this data and utilize it to influence product development and iterate further on ideas with the Glossier community. The product co-creation makes consumers extremely engaged with both Glossier products and the brand, even outside of the sales funnel. It also promotes a sense of ownership. This creates an extremely valuable consumer and starts a flywheel where they help create better products but also become a sales channel themselves.
Glossier is clearly a digital winner. Emily Weiss has created a business model designed to flourish in the digital age, harnessing the power of a digital community, differentiated content strategy, and customer feedback loop to co-create products. Glossier successfully differentiated themselves from incumbent beauty brands by emphasizing social commerce, focusing on building conversations and connections via digital channels.