THE GLOSSIER, THE BETTER: CAN WE LOOK TO EMILY WEISS’ GLOSSIER AS A FRAMEWORK FOR SUCCESS IN COMMS?
You’ve seen it on your timelines, your feed, IRL in grand flagship stores, on your colleague’s desk and very likely, in your own collection. It’s everyone’s favourite ‘no makeup, makeup’ superbrand, emblazoned in the trademark millennial pink and a modern sans-serif font that screams we mean business but makes it look effortless. But now it’s on your bookshelves (or wherever you listen to your audiobooks) in the form of Marisa Meltzer’s new deep-dive into the world of all things Glossier in her recently released ‘Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier’.
Glossier’s meteoric rise from its origins as the cult-favourite beauty blog Into The Gloss (ITG), providing big sister meets celebrity esthetician-esque advice and insights into the intricate world of beauty, is notable. One to be studied as Weiss’ ITG effectively demonstrates an evolution in the media landscape and a clear shift in how readers wanted to be spoken and effectively, marketed to. The site’s tone of voice rings warm and accessible to the audience with a hint of cool, like a new friend with great connections and a hard-to-place Transatlantic accent. Her editorial staff mastered the art of curation, showcasing just enough high-end products and experiences paired with influential edits and the infamous ‘Top Shelf’ column to gain a loyal following whilst still highlighting affordable beauty options and drugstore dupes to maintain an air of relatability.
The blog made for a perfect base for what would become Glossier, with dedicated readers acting as the DTC brand’s first customers and unofficial ambassadors who would go on to spread the word amongst their respective communities and networks. Glossier’s earliest influencer engagement strategy leans heavily on brand evangelists who already believed the hype and saw something special enough in the brand to feel compelled to tell others about it. To be cognisant of the brand’s existence, own the products and be in a position to share that with someone else or share in that excitement with fellow Glossier enthusiasts became a privileged position.
Glossier’s direction is rooted in what can be described as the early days of the ‘clean girl aesthetic’ renaissance, which followed the post-2007 to 2014/2015 boom of Beauty content creators and gurus on YouTube: Jackie Aina, Nicole Guerriero, Carli Bybel, Michelle Phan, Huda Kattan, Nyma Tang, a few of which who would later feature on Into The Gloss in interviews to share their beauty and skincare routines. Weiss and her editorial team cleverly utilise their editorial platform to pay homage to the OG beauty creators from an era that precedes Glossier whilst Glossier’s channels primarily speak to the evolution within the beauty space and shifting demands of its consumers, in a way that ever so subtly slights the ‘full-beat and ‘glam/soft glam’ makeup-trends that have been pushed in the years prior to their launch.
Most recently, Glossier has created their own pop-up experience on London’s Regent Street this festive season and it is dedicated to their signature fragrance – Glossier You and an indulgent celebration and journey of the senses. Guests are guided through red, velvet-wrapped rooms to experience a range of stimuli that appear to the different human senses whilst embodying the notes and varying elements of the fragrance itself. The concept of pop-up is also an ode to the popular trend of ASMR content that has spent the last few years sweeping the internet – ranging from mukbangs, to the soundtrack of bustling cityscapes or Amazon rain showers, to intricately scripted simulated experiences all to produce those dopamine-inducing sensations we all crave.
The pop-up is a bold example of Glossier’s ability to seek out the other spaces and communities that their target audience exists within and incorporate those key elements of those spaces into their brand to create the feeling of a convenient ‘one-stop-shop’. Glossier is no longer just for makeup, but now for skincare, fragrance, comfy wearable merchandise, branded ‘gorp-core’ approved Nalgene bottles and much more.
Glossier’s messaging presents the brand as a welcome and refreshing change for the beauty consumer who is inundated with options and wants to feel in charge of their laid-back approach to skincare and beauty. It can feel oxymoronic at times but appeals to the notion that there is effort that goes into making things look effortless and that should you choose this to follow this new wave of clean girl aesthetic and no makeup-makeup, it’s a thoughtful and active choice.
By doing so, they achieve a cut-through amongst a varied group of different beauty consumers evidenced by their steady press coverage over the years in leading titles such as VOGUE, WWD, The Cut, Cosmopolitan, Dazed and Refinery29. With the stamp of approval from the wider editorial community, Weiss’ utilitarian approach to beauty, accompanied by campaigns centred around authenticity and being comfortable in one’s skin has created the idea that Glossier can be for everyone.
But whilst this idea heavily attributed to the success of the brand and formed an integral part of the storytelling within their comms, it forms part of their downfall as we enter into a new era where brands are held to higher standards by their consumers. 2020 marked a milestone year for the Black Lives Matter movement as the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor incited outrage, mass mobilisation and protests throughout the world against police brutality and racism. This was met by a call for accountability from brands and high-profit industries ranging from retail to communications and ultimately an area where brands like Glossier would fall short.
Through Glossier’s rise and fall in popularity and favour within the beauty community, we learn how integrity, true authenticity, equity and representation form a part of an effective and robust communications strategy. Through Glossier’s story, we also learn the value of creating both a team and a strategy built upon the foundation of authentic and nuanced storytelling and knowing what stories are yours to tell or when to help build a platform for communities to tell their own.
For brands and organisations that are leading the charge, their leaders will often tell you that there is a lot of unseen groundwork that goes into engaging with underrepresented and marginalised communities and understanding their experiences and wants as consumers to ensure that is accurately reflected in the stories, campaigns, services and products that eventually reach the masses. A sentiment that is often shared is that there is always more work to be done and there isn’t a quick fix for success in comms when you’re looking to create world-class and industry-shifting work, but the result and impact are worth the time it takes.