We unlock the emotional power of fandom for brands.


The Fan Lab Podcast – Building Fandom: A Case Study on Glossier’s Rise to Success

In our latest episode of, “The Fan Lab”, we dive into the fascinating journey of Glossier with Elizabeth Affuso, who is a professor of media studies with a focus on fashion and beauty cultures, as well as the shifting dynamics of celebrity and influencer economies. She published a case study, Into the Flow, examining how Glossier leveraged fandom for explosive growth and we dug into her findings. Glossier is a direct-to-consumer beauty brand that has captured the hearts of millions. Through a series of pivotal moments, strategic branding, and influencer partnerships, Glossier has successfully built a dedicated fandom around its products. 

We’ve recapped some of the key factors from our discussion that outline Glossier’s rise to success and examine how they harnessed the power of fandom to build their brand.

Embracing Beauty Culture and the Rise of Glossier. 

The episode begins by discussing how the internet, particularly platforms like Into the Gloss, which launched in 2010, embraced beauty culture and established an audience that was focused on achieving beautiful skin and primed Glossier for a successful launch in 2014. The blog challenges the traditional top-down approach in the beauty industry, where brands develop cosmetics and then tell customers what was desirable or trendy whereas Glossier tapped customer feedback via Into The Gloss to develop theirs. The data from Into The Gloss helped them test and learn what resonated with their fans, revealing the importance of showcasing intimate and candid narratives in beauty routines which Glossier leaned into early on via Youtube. They also emphasized natural beauty and the “you” factor in their storytelling, which made customers feel like themselves, further fueling their fandom. 

They were early adopters of social media and have cultivated a strong presence on platforms like Instagram and Youtube, where it shares user-generated content and encourages customers to share their own experiences with Glossier products. This has created a sense of community and authenticity, as customers feel like they are part of a larger conversation about beauty and skincare while learning from each other. The brand’s understanding of the internet’s influence on beauty culture and its ability to adapt to changing trends and consumer behaviors have been key factors in its success.

Set up a time with someone from our team to learn more about how we can help you use the power of fandom for your brand. 

Pivotal Moments in the Founder’s Journey: 

The podcast highlights pivotal moments in the founder’s journey, specifically focusing on Emily Weiss, the founder of Into the Gloss and Glossier. Weiss’s appearance on the TV show The Hills in 2007 played a significant role in propelling the brand’s trajectory. She left a strong impression with fans of the show that later helped the brand when it was started. Additionally, Glossier’s early move into the YouTube space with Get Ready With Me videos showcased their understanding of the power of influencer marketing. 

Evolution of Brand Partnerships: 

One of the key factors that contribute to the success of influencers is their authenticity.  The emotional connection that influencers have with their followers played a crucial role in building Glossier’s fandom. Influencers who are able to be true to themselves and showcase their real personalities are the ones who resonate with their audience the most. This authenticity allows influencers to build a genuine connection with their followers, creating a sense of trust and loyalty. Unlike traditional celebrities like Beyonce, who may have thousands of followers but do not actively engage with them, influencers prioritize building relationships with their audience. Glossier’s collaboration with model Paloma for the Body Hero campaign, featuring diverse body types and provocative billboards in major cities, further solidified their fandom through her audience. Glossier’s strategic marketing tactics, such as its pop-up stores and limited-edition stickers, have created a sense of urgency and exclusivity. By creating a demand for its products and generating buzz through events and collaborations, Glossier has been able to attract a dedicated fan base and generate excitement.

Glossier’s Launch and Branding Strategy: 

With millions of social media and blog followers, Glossier can leverage direct customer feedback to identify emerging trends and guide future marketing campaigns. They created a beauty ecosystem powered by people because they release new products while simultaneously analyzing user feedback. Their initial product lineup which included a lip balm, skin tint, priming moisturizer, and facial mist, resonated with their audience and was already trusted because of their relationship via the blog, while the streamlined product inventory allowed them to focus on strengthening their hero products through customer feedback. 

As they grew they began offering affordable yet luxurious products that were based on products that already had a cult following behind them. Using the data from Into The Gloss, they had an understanding of what their audience wanted in their products and why some of the brands with strong followings but which were out of most people’s price points, gained popularity. Glossier managed to offer their products at a more affordable price point which opened up the luxury skincare market to a wider range of consumers while capitalizing on the fandoms around those products.

In 2018, Weiss stated that 50% of Glossier customers were repeat buyers, proving the LTV fandom can have for brands. Customer retention is a significant driver of profitability and is something Weiss was able to build during her years of blogging.

If you are not sure where to start, we can help you and your team with:

  • A one day Fandom Essentials Workshop which provides your team with inspiration and an action plan to start building fandom or your brand.
  • Insights that unlock the emotional codes for fandom, from individual to culture.
  • Creative campaigns that spark a fandom’s energy to launch your next product or service.
  • Content-led stories and experiences that enrich fans’ worlds.

Set up a time with someone from our team to learn more about how we can help you use the power of fandom for your brand.