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With Glossier Play, Instagram's Favourite Beauty Brand Plots Its Next Chapter

The new brand is Glossier's most significant investment in colour cosmetics yet, and is meant to cement the company's status as a 'builder of brands.'
Glossier's Glossier Play line of colour makeup | Source: Courtesy
  • Rachel Strugatz

NEW YORK, United States – Glossier is officially in the makeup business.

After 10 days of intense speculation, we now know the true nature of Glossier Play: the beauty brand's first standalone collection of makeup products, including a glitter gel and a shiny lip lacquer in a click pen. The line went on sale Monday, less than two weeks after Glossier announced its new sub-brand in an otherwise detail-free Instagram post that occupied the industry's attention like few other product launches have in recent memory.  
The products themselves are likely to create a similar frenzy among Glossier's cult-like following. But it's the strategy behind the launch that matters more to the industry.
Glossier doesn't add new products lightly. The brand, founded in 2014 by Emily Weiss, crossed $100 million in sales last year with just 29 products. It clearly has high hopes for its new lineup, even closing down its recently opened New York flagship over the weekend, presumably to gear up for Monday's launch. 

The goal is to turn Glossier into a "builder of brands" — expanding into category after category via high-profile releases of home-grown products. This means Glossier Play is probably just the first of many additional brands that the company will bring to market. Their plan stands in contrast to beauty's reigning behemoths, L'Oréal and Estée Lauder, which rely heavily on acquiring outside brands to build their portfolios, as well as brand incubators like Luxury Brand Partners which grow brands to about Glossier's current size and then sell them. 

A Glossier spokeswoman said development of new brands will take years, and that no other brand launches are planned for this year.  However, it's "only the beginning" for Glossier Play, she said, with more items likely to join high-gloss and glitter as hero products. Skincare might be growing at a faster rate than colour industry-wide, but the company sees colour — without the “moody, expert-centric rhetoric” of most luxe brands — as a meaningful driver of future growth. 
Glossier Play's launch follows the company's usual template: social media first, an emphasis on community and great attention to detail, particularly when it comes to branding and the font that sparked a Gen-Z beauty revolution when it first appeared on a starter kit with moisturiser a little over four years ago.
Last year was a pivotal year for Glossier. The flagship store, which opened in November, sees nearly 50,000 visitors per month, and the brand acquired one million first-time customers in 2018, almost three quarters brought in through peer referrals, earned media and owned channels, rather than advertising. This year, Glossier will open five pop-up stores across the country. 

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