What’s Happening:

Nine years ago, Emily Weiss started a beauty blog called Into the Gloss. Today, that blog has evolved into Glossier, an online shopping brand selling beauty products along with Weiss’s personal views, advice and tips. Glossier is now worth $1.2 billion, selling one of its £14 Boy Brow products every 32 seconds.

Why it Matters:

With roughly 500 million blogs on the Internet, finding the secrets to break through to become a major brand with high revenue is extremely difficult. As Weiss told the Financial Times in an interview, she took an “Apple-like approach” to the business, particularly when it came to product creation and development.

Digging Deeper:

““We’re not interested in the fast fashion beauty approach, where you’re churning out trend-driven items, throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks,” Weiss said.

Glossier currently offers a line of about 30 beauty products, developed largely around the opinions expressed by women that Weiss would interview for her blog posts. She noticed that women would extol the virtues of certain products that they used — but it was always centered on the specific product, not on any brand as a whole.

She began developing the blog into Glossier to create that brand around an assortment of beauty products, that was lacking. Initially, her brand was based on these crowd-sourcing ideas — for example, Weiss developed a cleanser called Milky Jelly, after asking its readers for feedback on their dream cleanser. Milky Jelly has become a bestseller at Glossier. For Weiss, this crowdsourcing technique is more about “listening at scale.”

“It’s something that any smart brand and any company is increasingly going to have to do.”

Where Glossier excels is in this effective influencer marketing that Weiss is so good at. In a WARC report, “What’s Working in Cosmetic and Beauty Aids,” this is identified as a top strategy, but Weiss goes beyond mere influencer to create and leverage highly engaged consumers. Glossier readers can create content and, in return, receive credit to buy products as well as commissions on referral purchases.

Glossier is now so successful that it is expanding from a purely online retailer into physical retail outlets in New York and London. Weiss says that while many incumbent brands are weighed down by their legacies, she prefers to keep her retail outlets more pop-up in nature. “Look at how tied a lot of these companies are to offline channels, and to ways of selling and ways of communicating with customers that are pre-social media.”

The Bottom Line:

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Perhaps the biggest difference with a new, leaner brand like Glossier that evolved from a blog lies in how it sees itself. For Weiss, it’s not a beauty company — it’s an experience company. Glossier creates digital experiences, physical product experiences and offline experiences, building a brand that shares values with its customers and creates consumer demand beyond the existing product line.

 

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