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Can Olivia Rodrigo Save Glossier?

The skin care brand never needed celebrity ambassadors before, but working with the A-list singer may be key to winning back Gen-Z.
Olivia Rodrigo has signed a long-term deal with Glossier Inc. to collaborate on the beauty and skin care company's products and promote the brand.
Olivia Rodrigo has signed a long-term deal with Glossier Inc. to collaborate on the beauty and skin care company's products and promote the brand. (Shutterstock)

Early on, a brand has to decide if it’s going to latch onto others for clout or if it’s the kind of brand that others latch onto. Glossier was the latter; it never paid celebrities to post about its products.

It didn’t have to. The brand was so cool that Timothée Chalamet voluntarily wore a Millennial pink Glossier hoodie to an Uncut Gems event at the end of 2019. Influencers were never hired to appear at new store openings; “experiential” retail elements and Instagrammable stores were enough to get people lining up around the block and posting about it online.

Yesterday, Glossier announced its first celebrity deal, a long-term partnership with singer Olivia Rodrigo. In beauty, the news isn’t surprising; most companies pay celebrities and influencers to represent their brand in some way, as ambassadors or through product co-creation.

But for Glossier, the tie-up seems jarring, and off brand.

Aligning with a celebrity very much goes against the “community” approach the entire business is built upon. Glossier’s messaging has always reinforced “being yourself” (even its fragrance is called “You”). Aspiring to look like a celebrity, even if they’re “approachable” or “girl next door,” was for other brands.

Rodrigo working with Glossier has a very “we need to make sure we still resonate with young people” feeling to it. Morphe had a similar idea in mind when it tapped Charli D’Amelio as the face of Morphe 2, its Gen-Z line, in 2020.

It didn’t quite work for Morphe, and the odds are stacked against Glossier. The brand is under enormous pressure to turn its business around. In January, I reported that the company laid off a third of its corporate employees following two consecutive years of declining sales. An inability to buy skin care and makeup in-store (beyond the handful of Glossier flagships) and prioritising technology (over making beauty products) are mostly to blame.

However, if Glossier felt it had to hire a celebrity, Rodrigo was the smartest choice.

What’s a better way to appeal to Gen-Z than tapping one of the most universally loved celebrities of the moment? Rodrigo is 19, fresh-faced and controversy free — and she doesn’t have her own beauty brand (yet). The brand did its best to make the partnership seem authentic, too; it was no coincidence that the singer wore a bunch of Glossier makeup to the Grammy’s with a Vivienne Westwood dress in early April. The brand posted a detailed list of every product Rodrigo wore (and in what shade) on Instagram the day after the show.

Her involvement could help Glossier hold onto young customers who don’t live near the Glossier stores in Seattle, Los Angeles, Miami and London. That could buy it enough time to adopt a turnaround strategy that gets the brand to a place where it doesn’t have to pay celebrities to promote its products.

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The State of Fashion: Technology
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The State of Fashion: Technology