As Glossier realigns, it taps YouTube’s new Shoppable Shorts Challenge

On the heels of Glossier’s announcement of a new CEO and a realignment of its business, the 8-year-old brand is taking a new approach to shopping by leaning on YouTube Shorts.

On June 8, Glossier launches its newest product, the No. 1 eye pencil, with YouTube’s first-ever Shoppable Shorts Challenge. Shoppable Shorts is a new shopping feature within YouTube Shorts that is also debuting on June 8. It allows viewers the opportunity to purchase products displayed in videos. YouTube’s Shoppable Shorts Challenge is similar to TikTok campaign challenges, with Glossier using the hashtag #WrittenInGlossier. The No.1 eye pencil will be displayed as a clickable banner, linking to Glossier.com for purchase. Any video that uses the hashtag will display the shoppable banner. The challenge runs June 8-June 23, and Glossier tapped 100 influencers and singer-songwriter Kehlani to produce videos for the challenge using the hashtag.

Compared to its following on other major social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, YouTube is Glossier’s smallest, with 150,000 subscribers. Kleo Mack, svp of global marketing for Glossier, said YouTube is a platform where Glossier customers have wanted Glossier to be more present.

“We continue to recenter on our core DNA as a beauty brand by creating effective products that celebrate and embrace beauty in real life,” said Mack. “We also want to ensure that we’re continuing to further our mission to give [people a] voice through beauty, and the partnership on YouTube does that. We’refocused more than ever on building a brand that inspires through authentic partnerships and real-life connections.”

Glossier has made headlines since the beginning of the year, with news ranging from layoffs to its new CEO to its first celebrity partnership, with 19-year-old singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo. In January, Modern Retail reported that Glossier laid off 80 employees, primarily in its tech department. Glossier had focused on becoming a tech-centric beauty brand since 2018 when it teased Glossier “Phase Two.” Then, in late May, Glossier founder Emily Weiss stepped down from her role as CEO and announced the appointment of Kyle Leahy, who joined the brand in Jan. 2021 as chief commercial officer. Glossier has received $265 million in venture-backed funding, with a valuation of $1.8 billion. In 2018, the brand stated it earned $100 million in annual sales.

The new No.1 eye pencil is based on the Glossier Play Color Slide eyeliner, a best-seller within the sub-brand. Glossier Play launched in March 2019 before closing in Jan. 2020, amid poor sales performance. A few select products were then integrated into the Glossier product portfolio, though Mack said the No. 1 should be considered a new product rather than a relaunch. No.1 is available in 10 shades and a new vegan formula. It retails for $16.

Mack said Glossier did not provide content parameters for influencers for the YouTube Shorts Challenge. Still, the hashtag #WritteninGlossier is based on the idea that nothing is entirely permanent and that people — and brand — can change.

The launch of shoppable YouTube shorts is a significant moment for YouTube, given the need for social media to integrate livestream-shopping and shoppability. In the past 12-months, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat have all launched some form of shoppable livestreaming.

Bridget Dolan, managing director of shopping partnerships at YouTube, said what makes YouTube’s Shoppable Shorts Challenge unique is that it opens up the ability to display a shoppable product to anyone who uses the #WrittenInGlossier hashtag. Given the virality of TikTok hashtag challenges, where brands can rake up millions and billions of views, even a tenth of that for YouTube Shorts could offer a sales windfall to brands.

“Shopping has been in YouTube’s DNA since the beginning, when you think about unboxings and product reviews. We have many brands and merchants who are [trying to reach] our 2 billion monthly users on YouTube,” said Dolan.

Mack said that Glossier is evaluating the success of the YouTube Shorts Challenge based on engagement and brand sentiment. She said the experiment is not about sales, but rather about getting back to a community-first approach. She declined to comment on Glossier’s future business plans or other social media plans, but said the brand is evaluating wholesale channels.

YouTube will host its second Beauty Festival on June 16, with a shoppable livestream portion where viewers can also purchase the No.1 pencil. There will also be a real-life aspect to the festival in Los Angeles. During the livestream-shopping event, select influencers who received the pencil as part of the challenge will speak about the product and their beauty looks, using the challenge hashtag.

“We believe that product storytelling is most impactful through personal narrative, and using the right platforms like YouTube to do that is what we’ll continue to focus on for the rest of the year,” Mack said.

Get news and analysis about fashion, beauty and culture delivered to your inbox every morning.