From Blog Posts to Billions: Glossier’s Brilliance in the Beauty Industry

Glossier built a devout following of millennials by being a “friend” to consumers rather than an authority on beauty standards.

The global cosmetics industry was valued at $380 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $463 billion by 2027, having a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3% from 2021 to 2027 (Chouhan, 3). This stunning and meteoric rise of the beauty industry proves that the pursuit of beauty for both men and women has become an indispensable part of the ritualistic routines of modern life. In a new era of beauty that challenges the previous hegemony of big brands like Estee Lauder and L’Oreal, millennials have begun to embrace the idea of choice and individualism fueled by platforms like YouTube that hosts over 45,000 channels specializing in beauty-related content (Chouhan, 12). This newly decentralized industry created a culture where consumers no longer viewed brands as the owner of beauty standards but rather they looked to their peers, influencers and beauty bloggers for creative expression and inspiration. This disruption of the industry gave Emily Weiss a clear window to engineer the development and growth of Glossier, a “people-powered beauty ecosystem” (Danzinger, 12). 

Glossier was born out of the desire to create an inclusive, communal and democratic way of expressing beauty – in many ways, Emily wanted Glossier to be a friend to consumers rather than an authority. She started with a beauty blog called Into the Gloss that focused on creating high-quality product reviews and comparisons that allowed users to share their “medicine cabinet porn”, the behind the scenes beauty routines that ultimately attracted 1.5 million visitors with hundreds of reader comments that made the discussion of beauty conversational and light (Giacobbe, 4). Into the Gloss’ editorial approach and the understanding that consumers were influenced by their peers ultimately led to the founding of Glossier. 

Alia Oshinsky’s February 2022 Into the Gloss blog post on Doniella Davy’s makeup, showcasing current trends, pop culture icons and beauty tips and tricks. Source:

Via reader discussion, Into the Gloss discovered what consumers wanted and developed a business model that attributes 90% of its revenue to it’s fan following (Bosco). It raised $2 million to create a line of 26 products based purely on user feedback from engagement on its social platforms. People were interested in what others had to say and Glossier capitalized on this consumption of reader commentary. People were not just there to buy beauty products: they were visiting to hear what people had to say. It now has more than 3 million customers and 200 employees (Shatzman, 2).

Glossier’s landing page showcasing their origin story and mission to its customers. Source:

Glossier, the direct-to-consumer brand that prides itself on its fierce loyalty to consumers, engages its users in conversations, co-creates products and quality content to market to those users, and creates communities, uses a cyclical data-gathering model to inform current and future products. This stands in opposition to traditional beauty brands because Glossier curates its line based on users interfacing with the website and interacting with the blog. As it has grown through media interactions, they started to experiment with paid media. 60% of their users were between 18-35 and the company decided to scale by using their social influencers as partners who shared similar styles to their customers, sales representatives who earned rewards as they built content and became distributors of that content to Glossier’s user community (Shatzman, 4). Influencers were paid per post, click, view and sale as a way to foster peer-to-peer relationships and stay true to its mission. 

Glossier’s approach was to build a robust R&D and marketing department, her Gteam. Her “Gteam” consists of 30+ editors that offer expert insight and opinion to customers (Schieffer). Contrary to limiting customer service interactions, Glossier strives to increase and enhance the experiences, especially as the online spaces becomes more saturated with competition. The level of intimacy achieved in Emily’s original blogs is hard to scale but she keeps growing her team to match that original mission. Now valued at $1.2 billion, Glossier is focused on honoring her subscribers through loyalty programs where they can test and try out new products and gain access to special events and sales (Schieffer).

With a $52 million capital infusion in 2018 and a $100 million series D funding the following year, Glossier began working on new forums to stimulate focused conversations that move beyond superficial reviews posted on Instagram and Youtube (Turk, 24). They are leaning into the understanding that they are primarily a tech company that builds social platforms and conversations. They will continue to put their customers first and give them a platform to connect, question and understand (Danzinger, 2).


  1. Bosco, Laura. “How Glossier Built Customer Feedback Loops and a BFF Brand.” Discovery Sprints, 5 June 2020, 
  1. Bosco, Laura. “How Glossier Built Customer Feedback Loops and a BFF Brand.” Discovery Sprints, 5 June 2020, 
  2. Chouhan, Nitesh. “Cosmetics market size, share, Industry Trends & Analysis 2021-2027.” Allied Market Research. Feb 2021,
  3. Danzinger, Pamela. “5 Reason that Glossier is So Successful.” Forbes. 7 Nov 2018.
  4. Giacobbe, Alyssa (2017) “How Glossier Hacked Social Media to Build a Cult-Like Following,” Entrepreneur. 15 Aug 2017,
  5. Shatzman, Celia (2016) “Emily Weiss on Glossier’s New Makeup, Why She launched into The Gloss & Desert Island Beauty Stapes,” Forbes. 14 March 2016.
  6. Turk, Victoria. “How to Build a Brand: Glossier.” Wired. 2 June 2020,


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Student comments on From Blog Posts to Billions: Glossier’s Brilliance in the Beauty Industry

  1. What a great post, Stephen! Thank you so much for this thoughtful and thorough analysis of Glossier. They seem like a great example of a platform that connects users and centers their needs. Super exciting about their Series D – and I wonder what their roadmap looks like.

    Have you used Glossier before? It seems like from the customer perspective, loyalty programs are a great way to allow special access and unique perks for customers. I appreciate how you mention that special events are also a part of the loyalty program, this is a great way to build relationships offline.

    Excited to see what the future of Glossier is like! Thanks, Stephen!

  2. Stephen, fascinating post. I’ve been a devoted Glossier user since their launch, but somehow never knew the origin story of the Into The Gloss blog. To address some of your points as well as some of Maxwell’s questions in the previous comment, I will say from a user perspective that while I enjoy their products, I haven’t taken advantage of loyalty perks, such as discounted prices for auto-refills. I’m also quite curious about their product roadmap, especially Glossier’s emerging understanding that they are “primarily a tech company that builds social platforms and conversations” as you put it. Do you feel like this is an intentional pivot, or the way the business was moving naturally?

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