5 Lessons D2C Brands Can Learn from The Inspiring Journey of Glossier

At Velocity, we are committed to supporting the growth and success of D2C brands in India. Each month, we share inspiring stories of exceptional D2C brands to encourage and motivate you to make a difference in the world. This month, we present the success story of Glossier, a beauty brand tailored to millennials.

Glossier is a direct-to-consumer skincare and beauty brand that uses the power of community and digital media to provide a unique shopping experience. With a product line that spans from skincare and makeup to body and fragrance, it is one of the earliest pioneers in the D2C millennial beauty and skincare industry. 

But how did it build a loyal online community? How did it inspire the younger female generation with its social media approach? These are a few questions we’ll be answering today.

Before that, let’s learn a little about the brand’s journey.

From A Blog to a Billion Dollar Company: Here is The Story of Glossier

The journey of Glossier (pronounced like “dossier”) can be traced back to 2010 when the former CEO, Emily Weiss, started a beauty blog “Into The Gloss”. 

Journey of Glossier
Source: Glossier blog

During her stint at Vogue, she wrote a blog on her self-tanning experience for the website and instantly caught the writing bug. She decided to launch her own website, which would be “about women and putting them and their narrative and their story at the forefront and giving them a voice and a platform and just really encouraging them,” she told The Cut

After launching in September 2010, Weiss was posting three times a week and producing the content alone. But within a few short months, she increased the frequency to four times a week after hiring a team. Since, she had a strong network and relationship with celebrities, her website featured interviews and content about Singer Sally, Kroes, Karlie Kloss and more. Thus, the blog soon attracted a community of 2-3 million unique visitors every month.

During her work at the blog, Weiss had to work with household brands on sponsorship and advertisement deals. And she noticed that there was a disconnect between legacy beauty brands and millennial customers. Even though social media was gaining traction among the younger generation, beauty brands refused to hire social media professionals. Looking at the huge market opportunity, Weiss decided to launch her own beauty brand – made for millennial customers. This is how Glossier was born. 

Fun Fact #1: She looked across 10-20 beauty brands during her research, and asked herself if she would want to wear the company’s sweatshirt. The only answer that came was no.  She began her company by wanting to answer a simple question: “How could you make a beauty brand whose sweatshirt people would want to wear?”

In 2014, Weiss raised $2 million in seed funding for Glossier and  launched the brand with four products: a moisturizer, a face mist, a skin tint, and a lip balm. 

Today, the brand sells a wide variety of skincare and beauty products to its more than 3 million customers. In March 2019, the company was valued at $1.2 billion by closing a $100 million series D funding led by Sequoia Capital. 

Fun Fact #2: At launch, Glossier created a grey sweatshirt, which was worn by Karlie Kloss. In 2019, when they announced the launch of a second sweatshirt, a pink hoodie with Glossier’s name on it, 10,000 people joined the waiting list to purchase it. 

In May 2022, Weiss stepped down as the company’s CEO and handed the reins to Glossier Chief Commercial Officer, Kyle Leahy. Weiss is now the Executive Chairman of the organization. 

Lessons for D2C Brands 

Lesson #1: Prioritize user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is at the heart of Glossier’s social media strategy. They have fought against the beauty industry’s standard of images by featuring real people like you and me using their products. 

The brand relies heavily on user-submitted photos for their social media than expensive models. They regularly check images that have tagged the brand and show how their products have been incorporated into real users’ routines. 

The brand is widely known for  their UGC campaigns with the #MaskForce in 2015 making it on top of the list. They launched the Mega Greens Galaxy Masks during the year and wished to create hype and engagement on the product. Therefore, they invited consumers to share photos wearing the mask and asked them to use the hashtag. Glossier reposted the posts on their social media pages. The strategy helped increase awareness of their product by using their own customers as brand ambassadors. 

Source: Glossier Social media

How to use UGC for your brand?

– Set your UGC goals like increasing engagement, building brand trust, boosting conversion rates, educating the audience or saving time on creating content.

– Create a unique hashtag to build focused interest on your campaigns.

– Communicate your requirements clearly to your customers to be transparent like asking them to post pictures or stories, or commenting on your post.

– Collaborate with  influencers to spread the word about your UGC campaigns.

– Share the user-generated stories or posts on your social media accounts for higher engagement. 

Lesson #2: Consistent branding

Another pillar of Glossier’s marketing strategy is branding through the use of consistent color palettes.

Their signature Millennial pink and light gray tones have been reflected across their social media pages, website, and product packaging. The brand also has a trademark registration for its millennial pink-lined product packaging. 

Due to this strategy, customers can identify Glossier products and images very easily. 

Here is an image of what turns up on Google while searching “Glossier Pink”:

Source: Google search

Lesson #3: Engaging with customers and building community 

The UGC strategy of posting customers’ pictures has become a huge part of Glossier’s successful marketing strategy. But the brand goes a step further by making an extra effort to engage with its consumers and establish long-lasting relationships.  

The brand uses its social media and blogs to ask its customers’ opinions on the kind of products they would like or the content that should be featured on their accounts. 

For example: In 2015, the brand set out to “create the best darn cleanser the world has ever seen.” With that aim, they started by asking their “Into The Gloss” followers about their dream face wash. And from the thousands of responses was born their milky cleanser, which became an instant hit in the market. 

In the most recent effort, the brand took their “building community” agenda offline. To launch their You Look Good cap, Glossier’s creative team set out on the streets and captured people wearing the caps. With this strategy, they were successful in interacting with the community whilst showing to their customers how the people were adorning their cap. 

Source: Glossier Social media

How to build a community around your product? 

  • Start by knowing your audience. Answer these questions while researching: 

Who are your customers? 

What do they aspire to achieve? 

How do they connect with your brand? 

What do they care about? 

  • Give your customers an advantage of being part of the brand’s community. Help them by answering questions, solving problems
  • Co-create by including customers in your product design process. It will help build real connection with customers and drive trust in your brand.
  • Hire a dedicated community manager who will be in contact with the customers, and help you foster relationships and drive engagement.
  • Offer seasonal discounts and promotions with your community members, making them feel special. 

Lesson #4: Build awareness with word-of-mouth marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing is a tried and tested technique that helps brands reach new audiences and build their reputation. Glossier understood this early-on and has integrated it in their strategy. 

They follow a policy that allows every single person the chance to be featured on their page. Potential customers notice their family and friends using and posting about glossier products. And these potential customers turn into active customers. 

The brand also runs a program that gives a unique promo code to their ambassadors, which increases their referral business. In 2017, the brand credited 70% of its online sales and traffic to peer-to-peer referrals. Out of this 8% comes from their ambassador program.

Below is a screenshot of a video showing customers trying the brand’s summer blush. 

Source: Glossier social media

How to use influencer marketing?

– Find the right type of influencers that meet the goals of your campaign, speak to your target audience, and align with your brand’s values and messaging. 

– Reach out to the influencers with a personalized message explaining your brand and expressing interest in collaboration.

– Provide the influencers with a detailed brief explaining the campaign, requirements, and messaging.

– Build long-term relationships with the customers by offering them exclusive perks and engaging with them consistently. 

Lesson #5: Embracing Diversity

The brand has embraced diversity and inclusivity in its marketing campaigns. 

Glossier has designed products that are inclusive of varied skin types and tones. Additionally, a quick browse of their Instagram page shows that there are a diverse set of people featured on their page. Through these steps, they have built a loyal following of people who feel seen and heard irrespective of their appearance. 

Source: Glossier Instagram Page Feed

Glossier’s rise from a blog to a unicorn is an amazing journey. They have put the community at the forefront of their product and brand, utilizing it for sales and establishing a name in the market. That’s all for this time. Let us know in the comment section which brand should we feature next. 

About Velocity

Being India’s largest revenue-based financier, Velocity provides founder-friendly revenue-based financing to growing DTC businesses. If you are a D2C brand looking for funding to manage your inventory and marketing needs, apply here, and get funded within 7 days.

Recommended Reads

  1. The MVMT Movement: What D2C Founders Can learn from”MVMT”
  2. Pawsitively Impactful: The Journey of BarkBox, the Billion-Dollar Empire for Dogs
  3. 8 Inspiring Lessons D2C Brands Can Learn From Everlane & Its Journey From $0 to $100M
  4. 5 Lessons D2C Brands Can Learn from Bonobos – The Pioneers of E-Commerce Fashion

Leave a Reply