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Build the Customer Into Your Brand, Says Glossier's Emily Weiss

The consumer is already powerful, and the beauty industry's mission is realising and unlocking that power, Glossier's Emily Weiss told Alexandra Shulman on stage at #BoFVOICES. Watch now.
By
  • Kati Chitrakorn

OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — In a conversation that explored the potential of conversational commerce at VOICES, BoF's annual gathering for big thinkers, Glossier founder and chief executive Emily Weiss explained that she was doing more than just selling to customers. "What I learned is that there's already an incredible breadth of product out there. There's no shortage of stuff," she told Alexandra Shulman, former British Vogue editor-in-chief and BoF's contributing editor. "There is a shortage of integrity in terms of product and quality."

“When launching Glossier, the idea was to create a beauty company whose sweatshirt you wanted to wear, because it’s so much more than just a product,” Weiss said. “I thought, how can we create a company that evolves with their customer and the customer is a part of the company?”

Today, Glossier is one of the world’s fastest-growing beauty brands, having captured a generation of consumers with covetable products, such as glossy highlighters, rich moisturisers and eyebrow brushes, which Weiss attributes to her hyper-engaged fan base. Indeed, in an age of online access and unending choice, customer engagement is something that Glossier has gotten right.

“Sixty percent of Americans rely on peer-to-peer recommendations on whether they decide to buy a beauty product. It could be someone on social media they’ve never met before, or it could be someone they read about on Into The Gloss,” she said. “People are the ‘unlock’ to shopping today [because] whatever you consider buying, you’ve probably read a review about it.”

Find ways to ask your customers questions and build that into what you do.

Into The Gloss quickly garnered a global fan base of two to three unique million monthly visitors for its insider beauty tips from celebrities and industry experts. Weiss raised $10.4 million in funding for the site and was able to launch her own beauty range, Glossier, in late 2014. In less than three years, with just over 20 products that range in price from $12 to $25, the beauty startup has become one of the industry’s biggest disruptors, with a worldwide audience and close to one million followers on Instagram.

“The mandate for Into The Gloss has always been to be inspired. We’re providing product, a platform and content for other women to share and write their stories,” said Weiss, noting that while “empowerment” may be a buzzword in the industry, she believes otherwise. “I don’t like that word. People are powerful, period. We want people to realise and unlock their power.”

Glossier's audience isn't only made up of social-media savvy Gen Z-ers, however. “It’s more of a psychographic than a demographic," Weiss said. "Whether you’re a 45-year-old lawyer or an 18-year-old customer who saves up for Boy Brow and spends two hours at our New York store making new friends, they have a similar desire to share.”

Glossier rolls out a new beauty product every six to eight weeks, and it is always done in conversation with their customers, whether Weiss is deciding which markets to expand into or what qualities to consider when developing a new candle scent. “Everything that we’ve chosen to do, it’s because it’s better for [our customer],” she says, advising all brands to “find ways to ask your customers questions and build that into what you do.”

To learn more about VOICES, BoF's annual gathering for big thinkers, in partnership with QIC Global Real Estate, visit our VOICES website and click here to request an invitation to attend.

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