Have you ever endeavored to purchase a beauty or skincare product and been overwhelmed by all the options? For example, search for face wash on Amazon.com and over 80,000 results appear or on Sephora.com and over 550 products appear. In beauty today, the problem facing consumers is the plethora of choices and information on which is the ‘right’ product for them. The problem facing beauty companies is the need to create a hit (the right product at right time), and to forecast sales to match production cycles with demand cycles.
Glossier, a beauty products brand and DTC retailer, has addressed these problems by understanding what consumers want, before they create product. In 2015, Emily Weiss, CEO of Glossier, posted on the Glossier beauty blog Into the Gloss “What would your dream cleanser look like? Smell like? Feel like? Do for you? Not do for you? Who would play this cleanser in a movie?”. Her stated goal: “for Glossier to create the best darn cleanser the world has ever seen—addressing the clean skincare hopes and dreams of the people that inspired Glossier from the get-go: that’s you, our ITG community.”  Using 380 consumer responses, Glossier created the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, “the line’s biggest hit so far”. 
Beauty industry trends have only helped Glossier: emergence of beauty on Instagram, comment threads, and blog posts devoted to video tutorials and explaining products. A devoted community of beauty enthusiasts have increasingly shown interest in being more involved in the beauty products they ultimately buy- both understanding the products but also using their voice as part of the review process for a product. “If you spend a half hour every day catching up on Into the Gloss, chances are you’re more likely to pipe up in the comment section (or, at the very least, up-vote someone else’s comment)”, says Glamour editor .
Glossier doesn’t just crowdsource to create product. They use their R&D process as a method of connecting with their consumer, sharing their findings from crowdsourcing exercises, and intently tracking the consumers’ sentiment. On her blog Emily updated readers: “here’s what we learned”, regarding consumers’ dream cleansers. In the short-to-medium term, Glossier plans to replicate this process for future products- crowdsourcing for new product combined with engaging in two-way dialogue with consumers. Glossier realizes that each review or comment on a blog is a data point that should be utilized in-tandem with their sourcing of new product ideas.  
Glossier has utilized an “integrator platform”, whereby Glossier provides the means of communication (blogs, websites), has control over the final product brought to market, and reaps profits from the products. The question comes to mind: since consumers are not sharing in the product economics(a), what motivates consumers to provide ideas in the open forums in the first place? Potentially, enjoyment and having fun together with the Glossier community. Potentially, by the chance to see their dream product come to fruition. 
Glossier faces risk that the crowdsourcing model can negatively impact its relationship with its consumers. For example, if a consumer spends time and energy providing ideas, but Glossier does not ultimately convert their idea to a product, the consumer may build negative sentiment.
As Glossier continues to implement crowdsourcing, I think it should focus on the following:
1) Achieving high participation rates from a diverse set of consumers, since “the most efficient networks are those that link to the broadest range of information, knowledge, and experience” . Glossier can achieve this by incentivizing consumers to participate, for example providing product discounts after participation
2) To address the risk of burning bridges with consumers, Glossier can assign final idea selection to the consumer. Although today Glossier tracks feedback intently, they can begin to allow consumers to have the final say on which products launch. This has the added benefit of increasing product success rates. In their article titled Using Open Innovation to Identify the Best Ideas, Andrew King and Karim Lakhani state: “Outsiders have distinctive expertise and perspectives, which enable them to pick winning ideas. This is particularly true when it involves products that can be used in many ways, or when fashions or requirements change quickly.” If Glossier is uncomfortable leaving everything up to the consumer, they could take a “residual control” approach whereby consumers narrow down the list of ideas greatly, but Glossier can rule out offensive or redundant products. 
Glossier’s past success prompts two important questions:
1) How can Glossier continue to use crowd sourcing as a competitive advantage while major players are adopting similar strategies, i.e. Sephora
2) How can Glossier promote high participation rates from a broad set of customers, while ensuring mismatch between customer segments does not impact customer experience and thus brand loyalty
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(a) Glossier recently implemented a system whereby brand loyalists are invited to create their own curated pages within the Glossier website, the link to which they can share with friends and embed within their own social media posts. If anyone clicks on the link and purchases an item, Glossier pays the loyalist a commission on the sale. However, this is different from explicitly paying customers to provide product ideas.
 Emily Weiss, “The Glossier Cleanser: What’s Your Dream Face Wash?” Into the Gloss (blog), January 2015, https://intothegloss.com/2015/01/emily-weiss-glossier-cleanser/, accessed November 13, 2018.
 Deanna Pai, “Crowdsourced Beauty Is Making It Easier Than Ever to Get Your Dream Products”, Glamour Magazine (2016), https://www.glamour.com/story/how-to-get-your-perfect-beauty-product-crowdsourcing, accessed November 13, 2018.
 LuluQ, “Glossier: What’s Your Dream Face Wash?” (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing), https://d3.harvard.edu/platform-digit/submission/glossier-whats-your-dream-face-wash/, accessed November 13, 2018.
 IdeaConnection, “Crowdsourcing a New Cleanser with Customers”, Ideaconnection (blog), January 28, 2016, https://www.ideaconnection.com/blog/crowdsourcing/crowdsourcing-a-new-cleanser-with-customers.html, accessed November 13, 2018.
 K. Boudreau and K. Lakhani. How to manage outside innovation. MIT Sloan Management Review 50, no. 4 (Summer 2009): 68–76.
 J. Howe. The rise of crowdsourcing. Wired (June 2006).
 A. King and K. Lakhani. Using open innovation to identify the best ideas. MIT Sloan Management Review 55, no. 1 (Fall 2013): 41–48.