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Can Glossier disrupt beauty retail a second time?

Some critics questioned whether Glossier was losing its way following the decision in 2019 to launch Play, a line of bold colour cosmetics, which quietly shut down after less than a year, and the 2022 appointment Rodrigo in a surprise pivot away from its typical community-led marketing approach. As the brand switched out its product formulas, people questioned whether or not it did so specifically to earn the “Clean at Sephora” label, which the retailer allocates to products that meet a set of formulation requirements, such as being made without aluminium salts, animal fats and oils, and plastic microbeads. A You deodorant launched next without baking soda, water, exfoliating acids or aluminium (an ingredient commonly used as an antiperspirant).

Leahy denies those claims. “We did not make any changes to our product formulations specific to entering Sephora,” she says. The ongoing focus is on creating “intuitive, enjoyable and efficacious products that are really easy to use”, she adds.

A return to its roots could help to give Glossier a boost among consumers, who today have so much choice in a crowded market. Glossier You not only embodies the brand’s core values; it also represents what younger shoppers look for in fragrance, sas Leahy. “I think what the next generation are looking for in fragrance is a symbol of their authentic selves and individuality.”

A multi-sensorial experience

Sephora, while a powerful channel, is just one leg of Glossier’s omnichannel strategy. The brand remains focused on opening its own retail stores (it counts 11 to date, including those in Washington DC, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Brooklyn that opened last year), and also recently replatformed and redesigned its website, to improve the online shopping experience. A month ago, the brand launched global shipping and now delivers to 180 countries worldwide. “We still do the vast majority of sales through our own channels,” says Leahy. “We see incredible demand across markets and the next phase of growth will be international expansion.”

While Weiss once viewed Glossier as not just a beauty company but also a disruptive technology company, Leahy says she views the brand as a beauty products-meets-experiences company. “We always think about the interconnectivity through the products that we make and the experiences that we uniquely innovate. Realms of You brings that immersive 360-degree experience forward.”

As it enters its tenth year in business, 2024 will be defining for Glossier, Leahy says. She remains focused on the core vision, which is building a multi-generational, multi-category brand that can last a hundred years. “Experiences like [Realms of You] where we can really immerse the customer in the world, the feeling, the mood, but also through products that we invest in, will be a continued growth driver for us into the future.”

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