Millennials are the generation that has the power to make or break beauty brands in this modern day and age. To cater to the needs of these digitally-native customers, the beauty industry currently has to undergo a phase of digital evolution, i.e., from iterating the way they sell products, to influencing and communicating with their customers.
Why are millennials important to the beauty industry?
In the U.S., the millennial generation is expected to surpass the baby boomers sometime this year as the largest population group in the nation. As they continue to grow into adults, they will have even bigger spending power and stronger influence over consumer behavior, creating both opportunities and challenges for businesses in the next five years. And it would be foolish of beauty companies not to customize their marketing strategies to tap into such a growing consumer base.
While millennials are leading the way with the beauty industry’s disruption, Glossier is already two steps ahead in stealing the hearts of these young customers, one pink Instagram post at a time.
What is Glossier?
Launched in 2014, Glossier is a multi-award winning beauty company, born from the world’s best beauty website called “Into The Gloss.” With its tagline “Skin first. Makeup second,” Glossier’s products emphasize in creating effortless, healthy and glowing looks, which millennials (and even Gen Zs) are going head-over-heels for these days.
In contrary to their usual pure, innocent look, Glossier decided to play a bit wild with its latest collection called “Glossier Play,” a glamorous makeup line perfect for a “glossy” night out.
So, how well is Glossier performing as a business?
Their business is booming. In fact, this millennials’ favorite brand is now a billion-dollar business that claimed its unicorn status (a term for a startup company that is valued at $1 billion, not those cute rainbow-farting ones) after a $100 million funding led by Sequoia Capital in March 2019. They have generated revenue of more than $100 million in 2018 alone, and it is expected to climb higher this year.
With its soaring success in business and well-respected reputation in both beauty and tech industries, we first need to talk about the mastermind behind the curtain, Emily Weiss.
Who is Emily Weiss?
Emily Weiss is the founder and CEO of Glossier, who is fiercely leading the company with 200 full-time employees under her wing.
Under her supervision, Glossier has been recognized as a top beauty brand by many beauty and lifestyle media such as Allure, Teen Vogue, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. It was also listed as one of LinkedIn Top Startups of 2018, nominated as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2017, and one of Inc.’s Company of the Year 2017 to name a few of its achievements.
But, Weiss didn’t rise to her fame in the beauty industry overnight. She started her career as an intern at Ralph Lauren when she was only 15 years old. With one foot already set in the beauty industry, Weiss stayed put in the same field and worked at some influential companies such as Teen Vogue, Condé Nast, W Magazine, and Vogue.
While working full-time at Vogue, Weiss launched “Into The Gloss” in September 2010 starting with just 2 blogs per week. Today, “Into The Gloss” is known as the world’s best beauty website, featuring beauty routines of influential women, product reviews by celebrities and lifestyle chit-chats. Four years down the line, in 2014, Weiss decided to turn her newly-formed dream into reality. Thus, Glossier was born.
What’s so hyped about Glossier?
Thanks to overwhelming support from its hyped-up fans, many people now refer to Glossier as “cult-favorite,” a word which might still be an understatement for a brand that can even make a pink bubble wrap “cool.”
But, to achieve that level of influence, one has to put in a lot of effort, dedication, and time for his/her marketing strategies. And, we are here to crack the code for you today.
Glossier’s content marketing strategies that led to its fame
Often labeled as ‘disruptive,’ ‘organic,’ and ‘empowering’ Glossier’s marketing strategies generally seem to be simple yet pack a punch, just like its products. Now, let’s dive into 6 marketing strategies that make Glossier popular among millennials.
1. Understand your customers
Understanding your customers is the golden rule for any kind of business. Glossier built its entire business model based on this fundamental principle. Breathe it, master it and say it loud 3x a day if you have to. Because there is no use to build an empire that no one wants to be a part of.
Ok, back to Glossier. How does Glossier understand their customers so well? Before Glossier was launched, Weiss had been working on Into The Gloss for about 4 years, which gave her a big community base and enough time to understand where the responses came from, how old their main audiences were and what types of post performed well within the community.
From the results they got, the team set hypotheses and turned them into actions. From pushing content mainly through Instagram, and making pink-toned packagings to creating gentle skincare products, they are all based on studying their customers thoroughly.
And when they don’t know the answers, they’re not afraid to ask their customers, which leads us to the next point.
2. Respect your customers’ opinions
Community is, inarguably, one of the core driving factors behind Glossier’s success. The company understands the power of community and makes sure that their audience feels inclusive and their opinions are heard. How do they do that? By bringing them into the product development process. Neat, isn’t it?
Five years ago, Emily Weiss asked her loyal Into The Gloss community what their dream face wash would be in the article: “The Glossier Cleanser: What’s Your Dream Face Wash?” After compiling and filtering thousands of responses, the company later announced the birth of Milk Jelly Cleanser in 2015, which is now one of their best-selling products.
Their customer-centric approach didn’t stop there. The red-haired girl who modeled for this product is not a coincidence at all. In the same blog, Emily raised another interesting question “Who would play this cleanser in a movie?” A lot of people answered Emma Stone, Eddie Redmayne, and Julianne Moore who all seem to be red-haired, and fair-skinned, the look which inspired that photoshoot.
By creating and marketing a product that embodies bits and pieces of Glossier fans’ ideas, the final result is not a mere facial cleanser but a physical representation of the Glossier community.
3. Empower your community
In 2018, the Into The Gloss team created a Facebook group called “Into the Gloss: The Group,” which currently has 15.2k members and counting. It was formed with the intention of creating an online conversation circle where Glossier lovers can share their skincare routines, ask for advice, read up on the latest interviews and discuss product reviews, REGARDLESS of the brand.
Weiss believed that it is important to raise the standards of the beauty industry high, not as an individual, but as the community as a whole. The key is to keep the conversation going, and Glossier is the one sparking the very same conversation. And it is only through these conversations that great ideas were born and new products were made. Just like Emily Weiss once said, “Glossier begins with you.”
4. Content is the star, especially for beauty companies
This is another fundamental concept that Glossier makes full use of. Content is the KEY here. Without it, there’d be no Into The Gloss, Glossier, or even this blog post. If Glossier was a flower, Into The Gloss would be the earth in which Glossier grows.
Analogies aside, let’s talk more about Glossier’s content. From what we observed, Glossier curate their content carefully for each of their social media platforms, and we are going to talk about each channel in detail.
In today’s over-saturated social media race, Instagram is the fuel which ignites Glossier’s popularity among millennials. Just like a mood board filled with millennial-pink wallpapers, short product teasers, and reposts of their customers’ photos, Glossier’s Instagram is nothing but eye-candy for its 2.2 million followers.
Instagram has a whopping 1.1 billion monthly active users, and 71% of them are under age 35. Since Glossier team understands that their die-hard fans are millennials and Gen Zs, it’d be a sin not to have killer Instagram strategies up their sleeves. So, if you are also targeting a similar customer demographic as Glossier, Instagram is a gold mine for you.
For businesses dealing directly with customers, Instagram can be more than just a platform to raise awareness – it generates sales. In fact, Instagram helps 80% of its users decide whether to buy a product or service.
As a cherry on top, just by simply being on Instagram, people perceive such brands as popular, creative, entertaining and relevant. (Source: Facebook)
So, don’t take Instagram marketing lightly. Depending on how you execute it, your strategy is going to have a significant impact on your customers’ journey. Give your customers content to look at and to read. Written and localized content performs extremely well on Instagram when executed the right way, also in terms of SEO on Google. Pair that with beautiful imagery and your customers will love coming back to your Instagram page.
Glossier’s youtube channel, on the other hand, is focused on only 3 main categories:
- #GetReadyWithMe – where models prep their days with Glossier products
- Our Products – a playlist showcasing all of Glossier’s products, and
- Makeup Looks – a series of quick-and-easy makeup tutorials for your inspiration
Since we are talking about its Youtube channel, check out its most-watched video of all time!
Makeup tutorials and its product teasers perfect ways to influence its young customers’ purchase decisions. According to a survey, 67% of millennials are more likely to buy cosmetics if it comes with a tutorial to create particular looks. It seems like Glossier is going in the right direction with this channel too.
From our finding, all these videos are exclusive to the YouTube channel only. Since they are not cross-posted on other platforms, it indicates that Glossier curates its content well for different audiences and marketing purposes.
c) Facebook & Twitter
Generally, backbone content for both Facebook and Twitter pages are identical to that of Instagram. However, that doesn’t mean that the Glossier team ignores the main advantages of each platform.
On Facebook, for example, its very active community ‘Into the Gloss: The Group’ is 15.2k members strong. With 2-3 new discussion threads, coming up every minute, it is the best tool to keep the online beauty discussion going within the Glossier circle.
Twitter, in contrast, might not have the mighty FB group, but it showcases the same astonishing support from its Twitter followers. Just look at the numerous instant retweets.
Regardless of the content type and channels, every marketing collateral that Glossier produces never failed to portray its brand image, i.e., by using these products, anyone can look effortless, chic and cool…the Glossier way.
5. Bringing personalized experience to you within a click
What better way to get a millennial girl hooked on a cosmetic brand than giving away free pink-toned wallpapers, hand-picked Spotify playlists with the trendiest songs, online beauty quizzes, a mobile sticker app, and even recipes (you gotta check it out yourself!) upon sign up? You might not be able to visit their brick-and-mortar stores in NYC and L.A., but they make sure that you can get a full-on Glossier vibe online from any part of the world.
With so many Glossier marketing tactics targeting their customers left and right, the #FOMO is real. In this way, Glossier fans can’t resist but have to always keep their eyes open to see what’s new.
While we’re at it, let’s jam out to one of their playlists while we continue to discuss their marketing strategies.
Even from the first step of a customer’s journey, i.e., sign-up, Glossier’s marketing team strategically laid out a very thoughtful, personalized approach which makes their brand a conversation starter even if you are not interested in buying their product(s), or are you?
We are talking about just their website. Imagine their pop-ups and flagship stores, or better put “offline experience,” with 100x extravagance. For those who are curious, here is how they look like:
From pink-tinted curtains and selfie-perfect vanity mirrors to flower arrangements in every corner of the rooms, one needs very strong willpower not to be pulled into this aesthetically-pleasing world of Glossier. Literally, every corner in its flagship store is screaming “Post me on Instagram!,” and it would be impossible not to strike a pose with one of their props and flaunt it on social media. If that’s not how a brand makes you spread the word, I don’t know what is.
Talking about personalization, that is what some big beauty companies lack when conveying their brand message to customers. They are so very focused on selling products that they often fail to realize that memorable experiences and stories are what make customers connect with a brand.
Personalization has become such an important marketing approach to attract younger generations these days. In fact, 73% of Gen Z and 70% of Millennials agreed that it’s important for brands to provide them with personalized experiences, according to Stackla.
Believe it or not, kids these days can sense whether you genuinely care about them or not from miles away!
6. Breaking the barrier with Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) approach
Glossier, since its launch in 2014, not only caused a stir in the beauty industry but also in the marketing world because of its strong Direct-to-Customer (D2C) strategies.
What does Direct-to-Consumer approach mean?
As BigCommerce defines it, Direct-to-consumer means “selling your product directly to your end customers without third-party retailers, wholesalers, or other middlemen.” In the world of makeup gurus and skincare lovers, that means skipping out on selling at Sephora, Ulta, and Macy’s, etc.
The D2C approach allows Glossier team to give customers the attention they need, and at the same time, focus on producing high-quality products that people crave for. This might not be an ideal option for someone who wants to scale fast internationally, but Glossier is in no rush. They would rather grow “intentionally” than to please the generic crowd, Emily Weiss told Kara Swisher in her Recode Decode interview.
They currently have only 2 HQ stores, one in LA and one in NYC (yes, it’s the shop featured in the video), selling their products directly to customers, instead of opening so many outlets or distributing their products to multi-brand stores (like Sephora) which could potentially lessen the value one-to-one customer relationship.
Because of its popularity and limited offline-availability, it creates an even higher demand among the crowd, which causes somewhat this massive queue for its pop-up store opening in Seattle:
This is this line outside the @glossier pop up in Seattle. It’s a full city block long. I asked someone what she was going to get, and she said she said “it sounds dumb, but I want the water bottle.” @EmilyWWeiss is an amazing entrepreneur. Dang. pic.twitter.com/Jmop7CrdHv— Amira Valliani (@amiravalliani) July 5, 2019
Backlash on Glossier
It looks like this near-perfect millennial’s beloved brand also seems to have some setbacks as well. One of the biggest flaws is being off track of their business core values. For a brand which takes pride in peer-to-peer recommendations and organic marketing, it seems quite odd for the company to pay celebrity makeup artists to use their products on celebrities for red carpet events.
In Jan 2018, Glossier (again) stirred up the Instagram beauty community with a post which not only showed Queen Bey wearing Glossier products for the 2018 Grammys but also teasing its new product drop:
(But seriously though, let’s take a moment of silence to appreciate Queen Bey’s beauty …)
Ok, back to the topic on Glossier’s backlash. One could easily argue that the power of celebrity endorsements can increase the popularity of a brand, but is it worth enough to contradict their own principles? Maybe it is, especially when they can get someone as influential as Michelle Obama to wear their makeup. #micdrop
However, criticism didn’t seem to stop there. Last year, their “Glossier You Solid Perfume ” received backlash for its packaging design. This egg-shaped metal compartment, which encases a solid perfume, seems to resemble Lilah B’s Lip Balm A LOT. Instead of white, Glossier’s solid perfume case comes, of course, in their signature millennial pink. Nonetheless, the crowd went wild for its fragrance and longevity of the scent.
What’s the next step for Glossier?
It looks like criticism isn’t going to hold back Emily Weiss from future-proofing Glossier. Details haven’t been revealed but she stated “Over the next 12-18 months, we will be rolling out digital products that will invert Amazon’s model of e-commerce, we’ll be introducing new brands, and we’ll continue to work towards our mission of giving people a voice through beauty” in her AMA session with elpha.
That surely sounds very exciting for the beauty e-commerce world and Glossier fam indeed.
In conclusion, if we have to describe Glossier in one sentence; it is a direct-to-consumer beauty company which is disrupting the beauty industry with the power of community and content.
As a fact, we know that there is so much beauty content (be it blogs, social media posts, or websites) out there, just like Into The Gloss and Glossier, which are needed to be read, heard and seen by international millennial audiences who speak languages other than your mother tongue.
We talked about how crucial it is to empower the community, but what’s there to empower if your customers can’t truly understand the essence of your intention. Who will appreciate the value of the information you are sharing if they don’t know the language? These trend-thirsty millennials are not the kind of generation that waits.
That’s why it is important to bridge such communication gaps and eliminate these language barriers as soon as you can.
As a beauty and lifestyle content marketing agency with seasoned translation and localization experts under our wing, we are here to help you out. Be it to produce your content from scratch or localizing it for new target markets.
How did you like May Thawdar Oo’s blog post “Glossier: Leading the Beauty Industry with the Power of Community and Content Marketing”? Let us know in the comments if you have anything to add, have another content idea for beauty content marketing blog posts, or just want to say “hello.” 🙂