Online beauty startup Glossier is experiencing some enviable growth. It has a vocal, enthusiastic fan base, largely comprised of the much-sought-after millennial crowd, and a strong, recognizable brand built on its cool-girl aesthetic. The ecommerce darling features products that sell out within weeks and waitlists that number in the tens of thousands.
Part of the company’s success comes from its unique roots: Before there was Glossier, there was Into the Gloss, a popular beauty website that shared information about makeup and women’s beauty routines.
Founded in 2010, Into the Gloss (hereafter ITG) grew a loyal following by not only providing product reviews and informative articles about makeup, but also bringing readers exclusive influencer interviews and features through founder Emily Weiss’ fashion-world connections. In the pivot from beauty website to beauty retailer, Glossier had the advantage of an existing fan base as well as an innate understanding on how to build engagement through content.
Content-based marketing is more important than ever: 80% of customers want brands to tell stories, according to a recent survey by Headstream. Still, even with the advantage of ITG’s reach, Glossier’s tactics boil down to connecting with their customers to build brand loyalty.
Here are three takeaways that can be applied to any brand:
1. Provide value and build trust through purposeful content.
ITG stood out from other beauty websites because of how it used its access to the beauty and fashion industry to bring value to their readers. Glossier practices that same commitment to bringing value through content, specifically by making sure each content piece has a purpose, instead of just content for content’s sake.
For instance, when the company releases a new product, it also releases the story of how that product was developed as well as what ingredients go into it and why. When Glossier ran into delays with restocking products earlier this year, they released a frank blog post explaining exactly what was going on.
Virtually every comment on that post applauded the company for their transparency; many said they’d be willing to wait. It’s a great example of the brand loyalty that comes from honest company-consumer communication, and one that Glossier has earned early on.
2. Use customer feedback to bring shoppers into the fold.
Now considered the “editorial arm” of Glossier, ITG also provides the skincare/makeup company a massive reader base to poll for opinions.
When Glossier was developing their cleanser, they asked readers on ITG for their thoughts. They received hundreds of comments, and Glossier then took that feedback into actual production. When they launched their Milky Jelly Cleanser earlier this year, Glossier accompanied the release with a post on ITG explaining how they had taken readers’ feedback and used it to create their cleanser. Milky Jelly quickly sold out.
Of course, most ecommerce brands don’t have the built-in advantage of an already-established reader base, but the takeaway is universally applicable. By building in a feedback loop and actively using it, Glossier brings customers into the “business side,” which, in turn, makes their customers feel valued. It allows them to feel like they are an actual part of the brand, and that further deepens brand loyalty.
3. Encourage engagement through user-generated content.
As all ecommerce companies should, Glossier engages with its customers via email newsletters and social media, encouraging their customers to share product pics and selfies using branded hashtags.
One such hashtag is #nofilterjustglossier, where customers post selfies wearing Glossier products. Glossier then takes social interaction a step further by not only liking the posts, but also featuring top picks in their email newsletters.
By encouraging user-generated content (UGC) and even featuring them as part of their official brand in emails, Glossier turns their customers into brand ambassadors. Shoppers are encouraged to look at their own lives and see how they fit into the Glossier brand. By doing so, they become active contributors instead of passive consumers.
By using ITG as part focus group, part potential customer list, and part promotional platform, Glossier was able to transition legions of ITG fans into Glossier brand advocates. More importantly, Glossier had the advantage of understanding how to use content to build engagement and loyalty with their customers from Day One.
Thankfully, advantage or not, most of Glossier’s strategy is transferable – and repeatable. At its core, Glossier encourages customers to see themselves as part of the brand. Most of this is through interactive and purposeful content, from no-BS blog posts to feedback surveys to integrating their customers into their marketing materials.
All of this makes customers feel like they have a personal stake in Glossier, because they are so visibly a part of the brand. This enhances every customer experience and interaction, and builds loyalty in ways that feel genuine to the consumer.