Glossier: “What’s Your Dream Face Wash?”

Beauty products for the crowd by the crowd.

Glossier: “What’s Your Dream Face Wash?”

What started out as a beauty blog is now a cult beauty brand with over $34m in funding. In 2010 during her time at Vogue, Emily Weiss launched beauty blog Into the Gloss. ITG quickly grew into a hugely popular blog with a loyal following. Leveraging the following and insights at ITG, Weiss launched Glossier in 2014. She quickly caught onto the fact that beauty product consumers knew what they wanted, but no one was truly listening.



Products for the Glossier Girl by the Glossier Girl:

Weiss believed that beauty companies followed outdated methods in creating and marketing products. Two years in, ITG developed into a truly strategic blog that listened closely to its readers and created content that kept them engaged in conversation. Using the content that users generated on her blog Emily launched a beauty line that caters to her readers’ needs. Many readers for example complained about how moisturizers felt too thick or sticky. Glossier’s response: Priming Moisturizer “light and buildable moisture for a dewy, smooth canvas”.

The user generated content on the blog was the key to creating the perfect products. Glossier reversed the traditional beauty product development process. Rather than developing the product and refining based on reviews, Glossier took the feedback first and created products custom designed for its customers.


Crowdsourcing Through Open Communication:

Every comment is a data-point. Glossier as a company is incredibly engaged and obsessed with its customers. Connecting with its clientele through social media in a fun and playful manner while paying close attention to comments and feedback has allowed the company to please the crowds with every product release. Glossier’s advantage definitely stems from the fact that it sells directly to its customers and can maintain a direct connection to the people actually buying the product, unlike major companies that are separated from customers by retailers.


“What’s Your Dream Face Wash?”:

In early 2015 Emily asked her ITG readers to describe their dream face wash. At the time Glossier was struggling to develop the perfect cleanser, so Weiss turned to her readers for help. Glossier took the 385 comments on the post to their chemist, the result: Glossier’s Milky Jelly. This was the company’s first every completely crowdsourced product, and needless to say it was a sucess. The company plans to repeat the process for future products.



On her blog Emily updated the readers on the product development process listing the final criteria:

“Here’s what we learned you wanted, which we also realized we wanted:

  • removes makeup
  • stronger than Cetaphil but non-stripping
  • balm-like texture but no oily residue (“because that really defeats the purpose of cleansing”)
  • pH-balanced
  • soothing, conditioning natural ingredients (“more Tata Harper, less Neutrogena”)
  • travel-friendly pump
  • no added fragrance
  • no mineral oil, parabens, alcohol, silicone, nut oil, tea tree oil, or soap (whew)”


Quick Facts:

  • 1.5m+ ITG unique monthly visitors
  • 60% of Into The Gloss readers return “almost every day”
  • Year supply of products sold out in 3 months, 10,000 person waitlist
  • Near 600% growth in 2016
  • 450,000 Instagram followers, 100 comments on average per photo


Clearly Glossier has won the crowdsourcing game. Whether through direct crowdsourcing (face wash) or indirectly through engaging in two-way dialog with customers. Crowdsourcing information can be incredibly powerful in product development. In traditional industries where major players have lost touch with customers, lending an ear to the crowd can be an instrument for disruption.


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Student comments on Glossier: “What’s Your Dream Face Wash?”

  1. Great post Lulu! I am impressed with what Glossier has been able to do in such a short amount of time. It also seems like it would be super difficult to reverse engineer a product based on the criteria that you listed above, but I am not a chemist. 🙂

    It is really interesting that Glossier’s engaged fan base in turn helps the company capture value as loyal consumers of the products that they help create. Since the products have been such a success and there is a waitlist, I wonder if some of the fans that contributed to the products had trouble buying it when it was released. Does Glossier recognize the contributors in any way, such as guaranteeing the product for them when it is released? This could encourage even greater engagement.

    1. Hi Natalie! The contributions were posted as a response to Emily’s blogpost, so there was no formal process of sending in suggestions/recommendations. I agree though, it would be great if Glossier ran something like a competition (similar to what we saw at Lego), but it looks like the company is focused on keeping the product range simple and relatively small so maybe running a competition could dissapoint customers if Glossier does not decide to develop any of the products.

  2. Hadn’t heard about Glossier until a couple weeks ago, and now I’m seeing the name pop up everywhere! Thanks for helping me better understand the allure.

    My question pertains to the definition of “crowdsourcing.” I thought about this quite a bit during our Nivea case as well — what do you think is the distinction between intense customer focus/engagement/surveying and crowdsourcing? For example, companies like Amazon are known for being obsessed with customers, surveying customers, and really taking customers’ voice into considering, yet no one has described their efforts as “crowdsourcing.” Would be curious to get your thoughts on this in the context of Glossier.

    1. Hi Kyla, I actually hesitated before writing this post as I wasn’t sure whether or not this falls under crowdsourcing. The way I thought about it was that crowdsourcing does not have to be explicit (like asking customers to submit ideas). I actually think Glossier’s approach is witty as they kept it very organic and natural by engaging customers on the blog and on social media. I would say Amazon’s approach is more focused on customer service, and while Glossier does the same they do also collect data for product development. The distinction I made was that crowdsourcing is directly related to product development or new service offerings, whether or not customers were explicitly asked to contribute.

  3. Wonderful post, Lulu! Similar to Natalie, I’m impressed by Glossier’s ability to take this comprehensive list of desirable product attributes and formulate a single product that satisfies them all. Do you think the brand will start to collect and categorize feedback based on customer profiles, such as “dry skin” vs. “oily skin,” and design products targeting those specific profile-types (especially as the number of followers grows) or do you think they will likely continue to pursue a “one-size fits all” approach? Also, do you think the company will start crowdsourcing ideas about what products it should develop next or do you think they have a well defined product roadmap that they are looking to develop for the foreseeable future?

    1. Hi Natalie! All Glossier products are made for sensitive skin, as the company believes that all skin is sensitive so most products are made to work for all skin types my guess is to keep the product line simple the company will continue on the “one size fits all” strategy. As for your second question my guess is that they will have a defined product map that is based on customer feedback, the direct crowdsourcing (like the facewash) will be for a specific product type. It’s probably the simplest and most direct way to do it!

  4. Great post, Lulu! I’m a Glossier customer and am in awe of how the company has been able to use its loyal readership to fuel its product development. What are your thoughts on trying to incorporate too much customer feedback into product development? Where do you draw the line? Many customers provide conflicting feedback and sometimes it can be difficult for products (especially in beauty) to do get everything done in one formula. Glossier prides itself in simplifying skincare, but at the same time, some of their products fall short on quality (i.e., Milky Jelly doesn’t remove waterproof mascara, generationG is hybrid lipstick/tint that doesn’t really give you the best lip coverage).

    1. Hi Michelle! The way I see it Glossier is not trying to be THE company for 100% of women, they seem happy with the 80%. Realistically, they shouldn’t. Again, re. milk jelly I would say the same thing it is a product that covers your needs 80% of the time and works for a large majority of women (waterproof mascara for example is not something thet everyone uses). I actually never really thought about this, and your post made me come to this conclusion!

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