The Glossier effect: How the beauty brand is bringing new meaning to ‘Customer Centricity’

Annabel Fay
4 min readFeb 21, 2019

Last week, I, a gym-going Millennial obsessed with Instagram, finally made my first Glossier order. It taking this long is no mean feat, considering if you brought up their target market research a picture of my face appears under ‘persona’.

It took me approximately 3 days to become a ‘Glossier Girl’, as everything from the super slick checkout experience to the ‘surprise and delight’ packaging had me hook, line and sinker. What’s more, I love the products, and have significantly streamlined my morning routine as I’ve adopted their ‘skin first, make up second’ philosophy. But other than my extra glowy cheeks, what have I learned? As an eComm/Marketing/Tech geek, I did a bit of research into what has them killing it as the brand to watch.

  1. Put the Customer at the heart of everything. No, really.

Glossier have subverted the traditional beauty company model by putting their Customer Service team at the heart of the company. In fact, because names matter, they call them the gTeam and the staff ‘Editors’. They are the voice of the customer, and involved in everything from product development to brand messaging. Instead of limiting customer service interactions, the gTeam are empowered to create conversations with customers on an individualised basis- therefore creating a community and some extreme brand loyalty. (Honestly, if you need a dose of the surreal, check out the r/glossier subreddit).

2. Listen, listen, listen

Listening to your customers doesn’t sound like a groundbreaking tactic, but in the beauty world is something that’s rarely done well. Traditionally, power has been in the power of the brands- photoshopped, airbrushed skin in magazines and foundation expertly applied by department store reps. But as we see the increasing decline of store footfall, understanding who your customer really is increasingly important.

“There’s a breadth of product online and in physical stores, but not a breadth of connection in one place to help you find these products, learn more about them and understand how to use them and why they’re important”

Emily Weiss, CEO, Glossier

3. Empower your customer

What Emily Weiss calls the ‘democratisation of beauty’, Glossier empowers the customer through incredible photography, showing the product on all skin tones and even with blemishes- the shock. Glossier puts the power firmly back in the hand of the consumer, who, as research suggests, are prepared to pay more to feel like they know what they’re buying.

4. User-generated content

This leads on to Weiss’ approach to marketing. As you can imagine, user generated content, brand advocates and social media are big pieces of the pie. But instead of working with influencers, Glossier sends new product launches to it’s most engaged or most purchased customers. Everything Glossier creates aims to cultivate an active community of conversation and connection.

While the company does measure quantitative results, they measure engagement, believing it to deliver downstream revenue and customer lifetime value. They know that social media interaction is a powerful leading indicator for revenue. They also pull that social content through onto their website, to showcase on the product pages and further enhance that sense of community.

When your friend says, ‘you have to try this thing’, you listen. You cannot buy that much goodwill with all the advertising and the best creatives in the world.

Henry Davis, Glossier

5. Know your audience and be where they are

With Millennials as the key demograph Glossier are targeting, they have gone big on catering to this audience. The packaging is no-nonsense, but the delivery box is cute- it comes in a pink bubble wrap zip lock bag with stickers. The mobile UX experience is app-like, with ‘easter eggs’ such as Buzzfeed-style quizzes, free iphone wallpapers and emoji cursors. This doesn’t impact checkout though- it’s the best I’ve ever used.

Engagement clearly fuels every aspect of the brand- I recently geeked out over their choice to launch a cleanser because they noticed that people weren’t including cleansers in their ‘shelfies’ of favourite products. They chose the colour (pale and milky) based on a quiz of what celebrity would be a cleanser (Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, both notoriously pale skinned). It’s certainly a brand for the current generation.

On a personal level, I am now a Glossier Girl. As a marketing/tech/eComm geek (God, Millennials), I wonder how scalable this level of personal interaction and service is as the company grows. But with this level of laser focus on ‘experience first, revenue second’, here’s hoping they continue to rescue customers from terrifying department stores and back to the safety of Instagram. Preferably with avocado toast.

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