Glossier‘s Next Wave of Growth is Where Community Meets Commerce

Glossier is the makeup company that every millennial wants to be a part of.

Still relatively unknown in a seemingly crowded industry, Glossier has found success in cosmetics by taking a radical new approach to product: build a community of people, listen to them, and give them what they want.

Because Glossier chose to build a community first, it doesn’t feel like a “regular cosmetics company”. It feels fresh and new, one that is carving a new path, making people feel heard and understood.

Glossier is forward thinking in every way, but for those who stumble upon their website or step into their stores without the knowledge or context of this online community, Glossier seems like “just another cosmetics store”

Problem Statement

As Glossier scales it will need to broaden its funnel, bringing low intent users into its commerce channels. To encourage customer acquisition and conversion from this new user group, Glossier needs to further differentiate itself from its cosmetics competitors


By leveraging its online community throughout its commerce channels, Glossier can reduce its cost of customer acquisition and fuel its top line revenue.

Integrating Community-Generated Content

According to Gartner’s research, 84% of millennials are likely to be influenced to make a purchase based upon user generated content that is created by strangers.

Glossier’s community members consistently create genuine (and often comedic) content about their personal experiences. For those of us who are engaged with Glossier’s online community, viewing these relatable stories strengthen our brand loyalty because they help us feel more connected to the other “strangers” within this community.

But for the newcomers, who are not aware of Glossier’s online community, they miss the most valuable component of Glossier’s product offering: the people.

Highlighting these community stories within Glossier’s e-commerce product pages and at physical retail store displays provides low-intent shoppers with incredible value upfront before they spend any money. Each comment and story reinforces credibility and trust to these new users while simultaneously advocating for a specific product purchase.

How would it work?

Glossier’s marketing team would tag valuable community-generated content according to which product it is related to.

Within the website’s product pages, relevant user-generated content for that particular product would be displayed for the user to scroll through.

Similarly, in physical retail stores an iPad would be located next to product displays where users can scroll through product-specific, community-created content

Glossier would A/B test these ideas and observe changes in purchases to determine whether adding these pieces of content positively influences purchase decisions. Online, users would be separated into test and control groups who either see community content on product pages or not. Offline, Glossier would identify 2 similar markets, include iPads in one of the stores and none in the other.

What will success look like?

Within the first few weeks of testing, Glossier should notice changes in various leading indicators. For example, an increase in the proportion of new carts and new user accounts in daily online sessions as well as a decline in the proportion of abandoned carts will provide confidence in the final outcome of increased revenue online.

Similarly, offline Glossier will want to observe an increase in the proportion of foot traffic that purchases and their average basket size.

Community Members Chat with New Customers

A study by Retail Dive shows that 84% of millennials claim to use their phones for shopping assistance while in a store.

For those engaged with the online community, Glossier’s retail stores are a chance to experience the brand in physical form. But for newcomers, their visits are not as intrinsically motivated.

To scale personalized, engaging assistance Glossier should have a mobile app where knowledgeable, existing community members can chat with new shoppers.

For newcomers, this experience facilitates an incredibly personalized, genuine conversation that instills confidence and trust in Glossier from real customers while establishing a meaningful connection within the online community

How would it work?

When entering the store, shoppers would be asked to install the Glossier native app and create an account. Glossier would have vetted a handful of strong community members which the app will match these new users to.

Mobile app notification for a vetted community member

Once a match is established, a push notification alerts each person with information about the other party to encourage valuable person-to-person engagement. Each user chooses to accept or reject the notification and when both parties accept, they can chat with one another.

Glossier would A/B test this native app by identifying 2 similar markets and facilitating user matching in one store and not the other.

What will success look like?

To confirm that community member engagement positively influences conversion, Glossier would need to observe an increase in new accounts, a decrease in time to first purchase and perhaps an increase in average basket size.

Additionally, Glossier can measure this experience’s success by observing the purchase funnel within a single store visit and recognize whether those who engaged in a chat conversation converted at a higher rate than those who did not

What should Glossier be doing next?

While both options provide an opportunity to recognize how community can influence purchases, I believe Glossier should first implement option one.

Integrating community-generated content within Glossier’s retail channels adds substantial value to the buyer, both online and offline, without interrupting their buying journey. This option is simple to implement and most importantly can produce results much faster than option 2.

Having these results early on will help Glossier recognize whether integrating community into its retail channels does in fact reduce customer acquisition costs and fuel top line revenue. If successful, Glossier could choose to further invest in community driven products such as the mobile app, to encourage community engagement during purchase decisions

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