When it comes to marketing new products, Glossier knows the key to success is brand ambassadors.
Glossier, which launched in 2014 as an extension of the beauty blog Into The Gloss, is capitalizing on the promotional model for its successful Milky Jelly Cleanser to sell its newest offering of facial serums, the Supers, launched last month. A digital beauty company that rose from obscurity through crowdsourcing product feedback on social media, Glossier’s bread and butter is promoting from the ground level. With 300,000 Instagram followers, it has a captive audience willing to engage — Glossier received more than 10,000 likes on its introductory Instagram post for the serums and more than 12,000 views on its informational video on Facebook.
Here’s how the company did it.
Know your customers
In developing the Supers, the first step was to post an open forum on Into The Gloss last fall asking readers what type of supplements and vitamins they take regularly. Amid discussion of the benefits of Omega 7 and B-3 supplements, the primary aim of the post was to get ideas for serum ingredients.
“We get requests for a lot of different products from our customers. They want everything that’s in their personal routine,” said vp of growth Ali Weiss (no relation to founder Emily Weiss). “We’re focused on skincare first, makeup second. People find this confusing but we think it’s extremely beneficial.”
Glossier used this information to ultimately settle on three formulas — Super Bounce with hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 for dry skin, Super Pure with Niacinamide and Zinc for irritated skin and Super Glow with vitamin C and magnesium for dull skin.
Activate your influencer base
Once the formulas were finalized, Glossier tapped a test group of 150 influencers made up of the most engaged readers of Into The Gloss and top customers of Glossier. This group also included members of an invitation-only chat group on the messaging app, Slack, featuring Glossier fans around the nation. Weiss said the Slack group is used to glean information about consumer preferences and to facilitate meet ups in different cities. On the channel, users talk about “anything from current beauty trends to books they’re reading” according to Amy Snook, head of communications at Glossier.
“We’ve done this cool thing where we leverage another technology instead of starting our own app, and including our most engaged girls,” Weiss said. “They can have [Slack] on their phone if they want and they’re very involved.”
The Supers were shipped to the group three weeks before the official launch, and the only stipulation was to post an image related to the serum on Instagram, with no specificity on frequency or content. This is inherently risky, Weiss said — by surrendering control, Glossier was at the whims of its devoted, yet opinionated, influencer base.
“Obviously [a brand has] the most control when it’s the one talking about a product and working with press. It has the least control when you give a customer a product and have them write whatever they want on their platform,” she said.
In this case, the risk paid off. By the end of the three weeks, Glossier had 400 overwhelmingly positive Instagram posts, which included everything from in-depth reviews to photos of how to use the serums in a daily skincare routine.
Repurpose user-generated content
From a product standpoint, Weiss said serums are a bit more complicated to sell than face wash or lip balm, largely because most millennial aged women haven’t used them as part of their beauty routine. Using the case studies from the influencer marketing group, Glossier repurposed social media content on its own account to depict real world scenarios of when and how to use the serums, such as after a workout or during your period to proactively halt breakouts and cleanse skin.
A photo posted by Glossier. (@glossier) on
“We knew we really wanted to launch a serum and wanted them to be more straightforward than they typically are in the market and more desirable for our target audience, since people typically think of them as for older consumers,” Weiss said.
Promote on the right channels
Not all social media platforms are created equally. When Glossier launched its new line of Balm Dot Calm flavors in May on Snapchat, the imagery worked with the platform’s disappearing features. However, the serums required a bit more of an educational component that was better suited to platforms like Instagram and Facebook, Weiss said.
While most of the promotion took place on Instagram, Glossier also used Facebook videos to provide demonstrations of how to use the serums, answering questions from consumers who commented on the videos. Into The Gloss also shared an informational post about serums, including frequently asked questions post about how to use them and what skin challenges they tackle.
Use brand ambassadors as beauty editors
Moving forward, Weiss said the company plans to continue to tap its influencer base to spread the word on new products. Part of the success of Glossier’s approach is its ability to give regular readers and users the chance to serve as beauty editors.
“The beauty industry is in the middle of redefining what and who a beauty editor is,” Weiss said. “In the past, a beauty editor wrote for print magazines. For us the beauty editor is every individual. People are more convinced by authentic reviews of people they relate to rather than brands telling them what to do.”