During my brief return to New York City last week, I immediately noticed the back alleys of SoHo were littered with Glossier posters. For those of you unfamiliar with that name, they are a cosmetics brand known for “skin first. makeup second.” and their signature shade of pink.
Intrigued, I stopped by their showroom and was greeted by a long line of social media influencers and giddy high school girls. At this point, I was compelled to check out the products myself and see if the buzz was anything more than just buzz.
When I finally stepped inside, I immediately understood the reason customers were willing to wait on line and buy products that, to be frank, don’t do much for their users. The pink pouches, the mirror emblazoned with “You look good” and the copious amounts of millennial pink are all a part of the unique Glossier experience.
Glossier claims that, unlike beauty behemoths such as Sephora and Ulta Beauty, it makes an effort to have a two-way conversation with its customers. While it could use constructive criticism to adapt products, this connection allows Glossier to coax brand loyalty out of its users.
Suggesting that Glossier caters to its customers’ every need is an incredibly effective marketing ploy that has allowed the brand to become a disruptive force within the beauty industry.
The gargantuan beauty industry, like any other industry, changes in order to keep up with evolving consumer tastes and preferences. More established brands such as Estee Lauder and Lancome, who both work with social media influencers, are definitely taking into account the power of social media.
But having an abundance of Instagram followers isn’t enough. Consumers’ demands are becoming increasingly complex, and the number of brands available to them does not help the situation. In an industry defined by trends, it is impossible to back away from complexity.
Nowadays, brands face established competitors and new brands in the market whose products accomplish the same thing — sometimes for cheaper. They also have to take into account the public relations nightmares of unethical but conventional practices, such as animal testing, because of the huge amounts of information consumers can now access.
By accounting for that and then some, Glossier has developed a cult following and is heading toward an initial public offering. Millennials and Gen Z youth in the age of climate change, #MeToo and Trump are losing trust in businesses and, thus, growing keen on responsible companies. Glossier’s commitment to cruelty-free testing and reusable packaging are signs that they are watchful of this influential group of consumers.
Returning to my earlier point about Glossier putting customers’ needs first, I sincerely believe their business model of a “people-powered beauty ecosystem” will be what drives their success going forward.
They’ve done more than create products. They have branded themselves as a company that caters to each and every single person that steps through the doors of that showroom. Or in the words of chief financial officer Henry Davis, “The main thing Glossier stands for is the power of the individual to choose their own style.”
And even with so many factors — like the political climate and rise of e-commerce — working in their favor, Glossier is even more fortunate that the beauty industry is resistant to economic fluctuations, as cosmetics such as lipstick are seen as affordable indulgences.
This phenomenon, known as the “lipstick index,” will allow Glossier to persist through hard times and perhaps expand into the mainstream. They already sell their goods at reasonable prices, and if they remain committed to responsible practices despite the costs, I foresee a prosperous future for them.
If you are ever keen on shopping while experiencing the likes of the Whitney Museum of American Art, drop by the SoHo showroom. You won’t regret it.