Glossier – A Socially Driven Beauty Brand

joanna_clarke    June 15, 2017

If there was a brand that is strikingly representational of the success of the millennial generation, through being an entrepreneur, believing in community, authentic conversation, and utilizing social media to create an industry leading company, Glossier by Emily Weiss fits that bill.

The company was cultivated in a very “millennial entrepreneur” manner, and the use of social media metrics has been a critical component in helping to develop and build a successful platform to reach and engage their community across a multitude of platforms (Milnes, 2017).

How companies use social media to engage their customers, product users and community in this day and age can be make it or break it; or at any rate, have a huge impact on their relevancy in the market and their industry. It is well discussed by course material for the Social Media for Business Performance at the University of Waterloo, of the use of social media in relation to an organization’s goals:

“The starting point for all metrics is the goals of the organization. The metrics that are identified for each area of the organization should stem from these goals. Your social media metrics should be carefully aligned with your organizational goals, driving social media behaviour that will contribute to these goals’ achievement.”

“Glossier is really the first socially-driven beauty brand” – Emily Weiss, Founder, Glossier (Time, 2017)

The story of Glossier began in 2010, when then Vogue fashion assistant, Emily Weiss, started a blog called Into The Gloss. Into The Gloss “became a mecca for women curious about the latest skincare and makeup products and provided a forum for them to communicate with other beauty fans.” (FastCompany, 2017) Weiss began collecting a huge readership – a million monthly readers by 2014; and this is when she began the Glossier journey (Rhodes, 2014).

“Glossier developed most of its products with crowdsourced feedback from consumers” (Time, 2017)

With an incredibly engaged audience, Weiss listened to what the community that followed Into The Gloss liked or didn’t like about beauty products, and began a line based on that information (FastCompany, 2017). It has continued from there, and comments and likes give “…Weiss access to a real-time, grassroots focus group.” (Wired, 2014). This has allowed Glossier to take crowd-sourced feedback into creating a facial cleanser and using likes and comments to help choose packaging colours and designs (Wired, 2014).

Fast-forward to 2017, and Glossier has a staff of 144, over 1 million social media followers, has raised $34 million plus in funding, is listed as number 4 on FastCompany’s list of The Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Social Media 2017, and had a 600 percent revenue increase in 2016 (FastCompany, 2017; Digiday, 2017). So … how did they turn from a start-up in 2014 to this success in just three years?

“The hypothesis at the time was that it would be really easy to convert these readers to shoppers. That wasn’t really the case,” – Bryan Mahoney, COO, Glossier (Digiday, 2017)

This was the head-scratching moment. Glossier set out to bridge the gap in understanding their big question: “…figuring out how people go from the community site [Into The Gloss] to buying on the e-commerce site [Glossier]” (Digiday, 2017). What this really means – in a distilled version – is addressing the drilled down four areas of social media marketing metrics – employee involvement, customer engagement, product development and design, and supply chain and operations (University of Waterloo, 2017). To do this, Glossier decided to use a cross-domain tracking interface – Segment. …What is cross-domain tracking? “Cross domain tracking makes it possible for [analytics] to see sessions on two related sites (such as an ecommerce site and a separate shopping cart site) as a single session. This is sometimes called site linking.” (Google, 2017) With a tool like Segment, Glossier would be able to maintain ongoing “[comparing] browsing behavior between the two groups [which] would allow Glossier to build Glossier products that fit the interests of Into The Gloss readers. Crucially, Glossier needed the ability to measure the impact of these editorial initiatives on e-commerce revenue.” (Segment, 2017)

Lessons for Others

The Glossier line came out of listening to that community and its real-life needs. “Today’s woman has five minutes to do her face before she’s flying out the door… she still wants to look good and needs to do it with minimal effort.” (Entrepreneur, 2015)

By using a tool like Segment, Glossier was able to analyze data in a way that has helped them grow their business considerably. They have been able to “connect the dots” between Into The Gloss and Glossier in a way they never have been to before, and it shows in their bottom line. Some of their learnings over the past three years:

  • “Glossier and Into the Gloss have traced behavioral customer and audience data across the two properties in order to better position its readers to become shoppers, and vice-versa. The most clear relationship between the two is found in Into the Gloss’s vocal community of commenters, who have provided inspiration for several product launches.” (Digiday, 2017)
  • “The company found that people who read Into the Gloss are 40 percent more likely to purchase products than people who only visit Glossier. So, it’s turned its attention to building a better connection between its content and product businesses” (Digiday, 2017).
  • “Glossier has noticed a frequent customer behavioral pattern: An Into the Gloss reader will open an article on mobile, click a link to shop a Glossier product mentioned in the article, add it to the mobile cart and then move to desktop to finish the transaction. It’s now using its new database to follow that pattern, and link the user across sites on both mobile and desktop.” (Digiday, 2017)
  • “As we get more familiar with the technology, we’ll automate that through machine learning, and that should feed back into the experience you see on the site,” he said. “That unlocks an interesting world for us when it comes to personalization, where we can deliver a very different experience for each customer who visits the site in a scalable way.” (Digiday, 2017)

“What sets Glossier apart from other e-commerce companies is its ability to listen to and speak directly with its customers.” (Segment, 2017) Glossier is developing in a way no other beauty company has. They are tapped into – and targeting – the millennial generation in a new way … and it has a very lively pulse. They are looking to utilize social media metrics in an incredibly operative way – it is fuelling their product development and design through customer engagement and through the steps of data capture, analysis and application. And as Founder, Emily Weiss says: “Glossier is really the first socially driven beauty brand…”, “[it] was all designed to democratize beauty” (Time, 2017; Sunnucks, 2017).

Organization: Glossier
Industry: Beauty
Name of Organization Contact: @glossier, Instagram

Authored by: Joanna Clarke

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


References

Davis, M. (2015, September 8). How One Woman’s Cosmetic Company ‘Gramed Its Way to Insta-Success. Entrepreneur. Retrieved on June 14, 2017 from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249328

Google. (2017). Google search: what is a cross-domain analytics tool? Google. Retrieved on June 15, 2017 from http://www.google.com

Milnes, H. (2017, June 13). How Glossier uses data to make content and commerce work. Digiday. Retrieved on June 14, 2017 from https://digiday.com/marketing/glossier-uses-data-make-content-commerce-work/

Rhodes, M. (2014, November 26). How a Beauty Startup Turned Instagram Comments into a Product Line. Wired. Retrieved on June 14, 2017 from https://www.wired.com/2014/11/beauty-startup-turned-instagram-comments-product-line/

Segment. (2017). How Glossier built a personal relationship with their customers across every touchpoint. Segment. Retrieved on June 15, 2017 from https://segment.com/customers/glossier/story

Sunnucks, J. (2017). The Glossier founder & CEO is on a mission to democratize beauty. Violet Grey. Retrieved on June 14, 2017 from https://www.violetgrey.com/violet-files/cover-story/emily-weiss

Time. (2017, May 16). How The “Glossier” Founder Built Her Socially-Driven Beauty Brand | Next Generation Leaders. Time. Retrieved on June 14, 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVr69fN4tlU

University of Waterloo. (2017). Enterprise Social Media Metrics. Social Media for Business Performance Online Certificate – course material. Retrieved on June 14, 2017 from https://smpb.uwaterloo.ca

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