From online to in-store success

With the retail apocalypse haunting many retailers, we take a look at how millennial beauty brand Glossier has successfully branched out into many physical spaces around the world. We also take a look at why having a digital presence and consumers at the heart of a business is actually the most vital part in growing a business.

Emily Walton | Junior Designer

The Instagram era

Beauty brand Glossier was founded by beauty writer and entrepreneur, Emily Weiss. Glossier is said to be the millennial brand of Estée Lauder and one of the most innovative companies in the world; launched at the height of the social media craze and now five years later, it has a following of more than two million.

Back in 2010, long-time beauty enthusiast and former fashion assistant and contributor for Teen Vogue, Emily Weiss, started a blog, “Into the Gloss,” after spotting a gap in the fashion media market for beauty product coverage. “Into the Gloss” became a fully-fledged business, raising $10.4 million in funding, before launching Emily’s own beauty range, Glossier. Founded only five years ago with just four products to its name, Glossier has now been valued at $1.2 billion. It has more than doubled its revenue now and surpassed $100 million, adding over one million new customers. The brand has since grown vastly to include a monumental range of beauty products, all of which are advertised and promoted substantially through its social platform.

Historically, Glossier’s success once lied within the millennial demographic. Not to mention its clear social media marketing strategy, clean, minimal packaging and its favourable brand experience, which it so perfectly excels in each and every time. Nevertheless, at present, the demographic now includes a much wider range of ages. Now the demographic is a psychographic; someone who understands the role beauty plays in their life. A consumer, who is heavily invested in the Instagram era and most susceptible to influencer marketing.

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Going against the grain

Thanks to Glossier’s technology-based foundation, tech integrations are at the forefront of the brand, which really works in its favour. Online shopping’s popularity is beginning to mould the way bricks-and-mortar functions. A 2017 study by Adyen, a leading online payments provider, found that 79% of shoppers leave stores due to long queues, and 50% want location-based discounts via mobile devices – behaviours they have learnt from their online experiences. Consequently, because Glossier began online, these behaviours are ingrained in its DNA. So, although it might seem counter-productive to branch out into bricks-and-mortar, it’s already one step ahead. Its online customer journey sets a high standard for its showrooms, but it’s certainly up to the challenge. A recent pop-up store in Seattle mastered omnichannel retail experiences, such as a collection point on your way out and a tablet POS system that can order your products from the in-house stock room. As a comparative to other industry related brands that may go about marketing in a way that uses conventional methods, Glossier do not spend thousands of dollars on beautifully photographed images for their social platforms (despite their skilful presence on Instagram). They don’t own billboards, don’t use any celebrities in their advertisements and they refrain from aggressive marketing campaigns.

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Let’s get physical

The holistic approach Glossier has to shopping goes a long way; physical stores can add dimensions to a brand that online simply cannot. As Farfetch, has shown with its Store of the Future concept, the luxury e-commerce platform provided connected clothing racks, touch-screen-enhanced mirrors and sign-in stations where customers could search their purchase history and bucket list, providing insight for the sales assistants. There was also a smart mirror to request different sizes, alternative products or even pay without leaving the dressing room. Like Farfetch, Glossier followed suit with their own revelation in retail. With experience being at the forefront of Glossier’s operations, this strongly appeals to the modern-day shopper.

Tangible interaction means customers can feel and try-on items, so they have confidence in their purchase. Customer service offerings create long-lasting relationships, and the ability to offer a multisensory experience turns walking into a shop into something to remember. Likewise, in their Los Angeles based store, its store concept was that of driving through a dessert, with a separate room filled with an installation of Arizona’s Antelope Canyon – complete with sound recorded at the actual landmark and day-to-night lighting.

What you can expect when entering any Glossier store are: well-presented brand ambassadors-known as offline editors; and impeccably designed spaces (always on-brand pink), filled with flowers and mirrors designed for the perfect selfie. It capitalises on the desires of the Instagram age; driving press coverage, social sharing and encouraging people to visit the store rather than shopping online. The proof is in the pudding – one of the New York showrooms generates more sales revenue per square foot than the average Apple store.

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Innovating history

Similarly, Glossier’s packaging has a feminine aesthetic and a relationship to femininity. Its signature colour is baby pink (as well as pastel colours featured throughout marketing material) and all of its advertising includes only women. Additionally, the Glossier product line is full of other small components that feel playful and original: one of their products, Cloud Paint Blush comes in what looks like a paint tube. Unlike Blusher being a pressed powder, this is radically different to anything that has come before. Glosser’s packaging is instantly recognisable to its dedicated community, by the huge logo on the packaging tape, a smart way to repurpose something utilitarian. And although the outside of the box looks nondescript, the inside is entirely pink with a charming brand message “Skin First. Makeup second. Smile always.” Not to mention inside the delivery box is a reusable pink bubble wrap pouch, no logo to be seen. But to anyone that knows the brand will instantly recognize the wrapping – like an insider’s secret – these details make it perfectly Instagram worthy.

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Customers at heart

Glossier is powered by fierce and powerful dedication by its customers, their needs and wants. As it is highlighted on their website, Glossier is centred completely around the customer and how much they value reviews and opinions, naming their customers as their own “Beauty Editors”, using their feedback to create the products that they want. This brand is the perfect example of why putting the consumer first is the way to go – top that with creating the perfect Instagram profile and you´ve got the modern-day brand model. The sense of community is what brings target audiences in on a brand and turns them into loyal customers, working on building a following is not just the focus social media should be used for, instead it should be a gateway to listen to what people expect from you and deliver in the most “insta worthy” way possible. To emphasise this notion, Glossier have a Slack channel with 100 of their top customers where they exchange over 1,100 messages weekly, comparing product reviews and allowing feedback on products and suggesting products not yet created, which in-turn generated their product “Milky Jelly Cleanser”.

Glossier creates an engaging and authentic experience – a personal connection with its consumers by sharing user generated content. Selfies of celebrities using its products as well as regular consumers interacting and enjoying their products are featured heavily throughout their social feed, all shot on iPhones rather that DSLR cameras like most major beauty campaigns.

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The key to growth

It has to be said that Glossier can definitely teach us a thing or two that online presence and experience means everything to the modern-day shopper. Offering exceptional co-equal brand experience can improve brand reputation both online and offline; it increases footfall because it acts as an attraction, it encourages social sharing and it gives its customers a fun experience to remember.

If you would like to know more about how we can help implement your brand and increase its online presence, then visit our branding page to find out more. Alternatively, contact us to speak with our highly strategic brand specialists to find out how we can help grow your business.