From Gloss to Glory: Decoding Glossier's Brand Success


Caroline Gong

Realistic movies are usually comedic and dramatic spins of real life, but if you’ve ever watched “The Devil Wears Prada,” you’ll know the film has quite accurately captured how intense and almost cultish the fashion and beauty industry can be.

Glossier’s rise to fame, though, is largely attributed to its defiance of this cultural mindset. In fact, founder Emily Weiss created Glossier for the sole purpose of bringing customers into the discourse. Instead of only letting beauty gurus and tyrants determine the up and coming trends and styles, Glossier’s value proposition was its commitment to centering customers’ opinions, needs, and feedback in their product development.

But it’s a little ironic - Glossier set out to escape from the echo chamber of the beauty industry, yet its own customer base is known for being extremely obsessed with the brand. Let’s dive deeper into what exactly triggered Glossier’s explosive takeover.

All Natural

Glossier’s popularity is rooted in its specific value proposition.

But this might be a bit vague for some of us. After all, the fashion and beauty industry is just glitter, blush, and some brushes, no? What’s the difference anyway between all of these eyeshadow palettes and lipstick colors?

These are all very important questions, especially for a relatively new company like Glossier entering such a saturated space. But Glossier had a very specific ICP that it wanted to reach, which allowed the company to identify, target, and convert a segment of the existing customer base to become its customers.

Glossier began humbly as Weiss’ personal fashion and beauty blog, Into The Gloss. Weiss started it in 2010 while she was an editorial assistant at Vogue and covered various topics on skincare and makeup. When she gained enough of a following by 2014, she kickstarted Glossier.

What spurred her to found her own company? The organic discussions and interactions she was having with her followers through her platform. Weiss was learning a lot by engaging with followers who were just as dedicated to beauty and fashion as she was. Compared to her work at Vogue, her blog was a space for back-and-forth discussion, and Weiss realized she wanted to create a brand that would support its customers, rather than the other way around.

This realization led to Glossier’s ICP: millennial and Gen Z women who were interested in makeup and used it frequently, had a skincare routine (or the beginnings of one), and were proactive in trying out new products or makeup looks. From this, Weiss created Glossier with the intention of creating products that would feel and look natural.

Glossier launched its first four products – a moisturizer, face mist, skin tint, and lip balm – which perfectly aligned with the brand’s overarching vision. In 2015, the company continued to launch more products based on community feedback, such as their famous Boy Brow pomade and Milky Jelly Cleanser. In fact, the idea behind the Milky Jelly Cleanser came about after followers of Into The Gloss told the Glossier team about their “dream face wash.”

Shortly afterwards, Glossier faced several problems - good problems! After the release of their 2015 products, they ran out of a year’s worth of inventory within three months because they had severely underestimated sales. Glossier also had more than enough customer data to create lines of products to release - they simply had to pick and choose which to sell. Glossier was well on its way to becoming the $400B business that it is today.

Omnichannel DTC Marketing


But that can’t be it, right? Just a little bit of customer segmentation and luck, and voila?!

Yes and no.

Glossier’s ICP was right on the money, and given that Weiss had a stable following, targeting and segmentation was made a lot easier. However, scaling is different from selling. Customer segments can evolve over time, and just because Glossier had entered the beauty scene, doesn’t mean that the pace of new trends and styles was suddenly going to slow down.

What really helped carry Glossier through was its on-point marketing and customer experience.

In 2019, Glossier’s signature pink dyed social media and mobile ads everywhere. Shoppers would also post pictures of their visits to their local Glossier store while holding their pink Glossier shopping bags. Glossier absolutely dominated both the online and in-person shopping experience.

To really sell your brand, your marketing experience must define your customer experience. Your email campaigns shouldn’t just be the occasional nudge. Your website shouldn’t display the same recommendations to everyone. Instead, they should encourage your customers to interact with your business more!

Glossier’s DTC strategy is stellar because it encourages customers to constantly re-engage with the brand. Its online media presence makes it so that you can never not see a Glossier ad, and even if you aren’t a customer yet, you will be very soon simply because of FOMO. Furthermore, Glossier brick-and-mortar stores are experiences in and of themselves. There are mirrors to take selfies in, Glossier workers will call your name when your product is ready, and the aesthetic packaging reflects the company brand completely.

This advice may not necessarily be applicable for those of you who are just starting off. But if you’re finding yourself at a crossroads, maybe seeing some plateauing in your customer data, Glossier’s marketing tactics and Cotera’s suite of tools are good starting points to look into.

While many argue that Glossier has fallen off now (due to a recent slew of negative press regarding workplace diversity issues and layoffs), its success cannot be forgotten. Moreover, Cotera’s tools are also absolutely essential to your business’ growth. Our recommendation engines and tagging system will make customer segmentation easy for you. Our data tools also go beyond just analyzing basic metrics like churn. We also identify key touchpoints throughout your customer journey, especially critical moments like the “Loss of Interest” or “Onboarding Failure,” that will enable you to make smart decisions about your customers and effectively re-engage them.

We covered two key concepts – defining your ICP and omnichannel marketing. Our tools are specifically built to help you establish a solid understanding of your customers and follow through by developing the right personalization and marketing strategies to reach them.

You’ve already done the work to get from 0 to 1. With Cotera, we can bring your company from 1 to 100, quickly and effectively.

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