Image source: glossier.com

Four Key Takeaways from Glossier’s Product Launch Strategy

As a digital strategist, I’m always interested in seeing how brands handle new product launches. Last week, I saw that Glossier was releasing a new serum trio, dubbed “The Supers,” and decided to follow along and take note of their roll out plan.

If you don’t know Glossier, they are a digital-first NYC skincare startup birthed from the successful beauty and lifestyle blog IntoTheGloss.com. What is unique about Glossier is that they heavily involve their fans in the product development process. So much so, that their Milky Jelly Cleanser was crowdsourced, and fans received periodic updates on the cleanser’s production from Glossier’s founder and CEO, Emily Weiss.

The Product

The Supers are a trio of facial serums that cater to specific skincare needs. The brand refers to the serums as “supplements for your face” and are priced at $28 a bottle or $65 for the “Super Pack” of all three. In comparison, serums by brands like Caudalie, Fresh, and even Clinique are going to range from $45–$80 a bottle. So $65 for a three pack of serums is a great alternative to more expensive products that claim to offer the same results.

Source: Glossier YouTube Channel

Launch Timeline

The below chart is my interpretation of Glossier’s serum launch timeline, based on the timestamps of public social media posts, blogs, email, and Google search operator results.

CST Timezone

Glossier executed a 7-day hype campaign, starting on Monday, September 5th, that lead up to the launch of The Supers on Monday, September 12th. The week-long campaign spanned all social channels listed above and included a custom landing page with email capture, a huge brand advocate push, cross-promotion from IntoTheGloss.com, and a Reddit sweepstakes.

After watching The Supers product launch unfold over the past week, I feel that there are four key takeaways to keep in mind and possibly apply to your next product launch strategy.

#1 — Timing is everything

There are three key dates in Glossier’s serum launch.

  1. Monday, September 5th

Considering there were only teasers posted by the brand, I like to think of Monday the 5th as their “soft announcement day.” I’m assuming Glossier did this because they had seven full days before launch and needed to sustain a degree of mystery while their brand advocates were stirring up organic hype around the new product. It was also really smart of them to retweet and feature some of their key brand advocates (Jenna Lyons and Sophia Amoruso) during this time because it added an extra layer of creditability and appeal to the serums.

2. Wednesday, September 7th

On the Wednesday leading up to launch, Glossier was very direct about their plans. If you were a fan of the brand and didn’t already know about the new serums, you were going to know by your mid-morning email scan or Facebook feed lurk. IntoTheGloss made the official announcement of the new product launch on their site then Glossier cross-promoted the announcement on their social channels. It’s also important to note that the IntoTheGloss announcement Glossier shared on their Facebook page had much higher engagement than usual and probably had some paid support behind it so that it could reach more of their followers.

3. Monday, September 12th

On the morning of the 12th, it was imperative that the product pages were up and running before any communication pieces about the launch were triggered. Although I am unsure of the exact time the product pages were pushed live, they must have been up and running before the launch eblast was sent out at 7 am CST. By 7:45 am CST Glossier posted a video on Facebook which outlined the use case for each of the three serums. The Facebook video aesthetic was consistent with the brand, the product was shown within the first 3 seconds, and the premise could be easily understood without sound. The engagement on Glossier’s video post was also higher than usual, so there may have been some paid support allocated to this Facebook post as well. The digital video is also embedded in the product details section of each serum’s product page, which I think is a nice touch if a customer is on the fence about which serum to purchase.

CST timezone. *Both Snapchat story teases are unconfirmed.

#2 — Harness the power of brand advocates

The core difference between brand advocates and influencers is that brand advocates already have an affinity towards a brand and are willing to promote a company, products, or services publicly on their accord(in other words, there is no monetary exchange). Influencers typically have a large following amongst a niche consumer demographic. Brands partner with influencers when they are looking to grow awareness and brand affinity with a particular audience. At this point, Glossier is past partnering with influencers, and they are now growing deeper relationships with their customers.

After sifting through the #TheSupers tag on Instagram, it became evident that there are various segments of Glossier’s brand advocates. Below is an example of three apparent Glossier advocate segments: top tier (mostly celebrities or high-profile individuals), employees(Glossier and IntoTheGloss), and beauty aficionados(bloggers and skincare enthusiasts). Note, that when building brand advocate segments, certain individuals may fit into multiple groups.

Brand advocates who shared Glossier’s serums on social 9/5/16–9/12/16

Timing and communication are also vital when it comes to coordinating with brand advocates. When Glossier sent out the Super Packs to their advocates before launch, they made sure to include a handwritten note highlighting the objective of the launch and a date to start sharing news about the serums.

Handwritten note from the brand to an advocate with clearly stated objective and posting date. Image source: Iconosquare, #TheSupers feed, 2016.

I would also like to mention the importance of keeping the brand identity consistent when creating a brand advocate experience. Every Super Pack box Glossier sent out to advocates arrived in their signature packaging and pink bubble wrap bags. The note included was on branded stationary and was handwritten in the brand’s tone of voice. Brand advocates are your biggest fans, and you’ll be able to grow deeper relationships with them by making them feel included in your campaigns.

#3 — Extend your campaign to Reddit, the right way

Advertising on Reddit is not for every brand, but I feel like Glossier executed a Reddit sweepstakes well during their 7-day hype campaign period. Below is a screenshot of the post Glossier promoted in the /r/SkincareAddiction sub-Reddit from September 5th-11th. Their promoted post introduces the brand and communicates a clear value exchange with the copy “sign up for a chance to win!” They also choose a sub-Reddit that aligns with their target audience’s interests, instead of springing for a spot on the front page of Reddit.

/r/SkincareAddiction has 226,194 subscribers

Once clicked, Redditors were taken to a custom landing page that directed them to submit their email for a chance to win a Super Pack. I scanned through the sweepstakes terms and conditions, and everything seemed pretty standard — the sweeps ran until the 11th, and ten Redditors would be randomly selected the following week.

Custom landing page for Reddit sweepstakes. Headline and copy tweaked for Redditors arriving on the page
Here’s what Glossier’s main landing page for glossier.com/serums looked like 9/5–9/11

Not all landing pages are one-size-fits-all. If you’re running a special promotion or sweepstakes, consider creating a custom landing page with relevant messaging tailored for that audience.

#4 — Treat launch day as an event

Glossier treated their Supers launch as an all-day event — they didn’t just push their product pages live, send out an eblast and watch orders roll in. They supported their launch day with the following efforts:

Sign on/off posts the day of an event let your followers know what is happening in case they missed the news — it adds a layer of context and courtesy to your event communications. I liked that Glossier’s “Thanks for a great launch day” sign off post seemed very inclusive and appreciative towards their fans.

On launch day, it may be wise to have an all-hands-on-deck approach to social moderation in case any technical or product questions arise. A good example of this is when Glossier received questions in the comments on one of their Instagram posts about mixing the serums together. It turns out; you shouldn’t mix two of the serums together if you have sensitive skin. If Glossier hadn’t caught that question while moderating on launch day, they could have had customers misusing their product and potentially irritating their skin.

To follow up their announcement on Wednesday, September 7th, IntoTheGloss published a blog post about the arrival of the serums on launch day and shared it out on their social channels, which helped amplify Glossier’s exposure and reach of their product launch.

As the reviews rolled in, Glossier shared the articles in real time on their social channels. Glossier CEO, Emily Weiss, was also spotted in Soho with Glossier employees sporting pink capes celebrating The Supers launch.

Hopefully, these takeaways will serve as some interesting thought starters for your next product launch or campaign. Can’t wait to see how Glossier launches their next product or if The Supers sell out.

Thanks for reading!