How Glossier used an ambassador program to become part of skincare and makeup kit of 5M People

Glossier's ambassador program engaged 5M, setting a skincare trend.

January 19, 2023

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Glossier is a minimalist and effective beauty brand that has become part of everyone's kit because of its skin-first philosophy and iconic products. But how did this brand go from a small beauty blog to a cult favorite in just a few years?

Well, let's start at the beginning.

It all started in 2010 when Teen Vogue fashion assistant Emily Weiss launched a side hustle beauty blog, Into the Gloss. The blog quickly gained a following thanks to its honest and relatable approach to beauty topics. That gave Weiss the idea to turn her passion into a full-fledged company. Fast forward to 2014, and Glossier was born.

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Since then, Glossier has taken the beauty world by storm with its skin-first philosophy and minimal yet effective products. From its signature Boy Brow to its game-changing Milky Jelly Cleanser, Glossier has become a go-to brand for beauty enthusiasts everywhere.

One of the critical aspects of the Glossier brand is its community-led approach. They empower its most passionate and engaged customers, who become brand advocates and connect with potential customers authentically.

So whether you run a beauty brand or any other eCommerce store, let's dive into the Glossier strategy of ambassador marketing and see what you can take away from this for your brand.

Influence > Influencer

One lesson from Weiss and her blog is the importance of building trust and credibility to influence people's decisions.

Rather than simply attaching a famous name to your products and hoping for the best, focus on creating genuine influence. That can be through your personal brand or someone else, but it has to be credible and authentic. Basically, go after 'influence' and not 'influencers.'

Influence is the ability to affect the behavior or thinking of others, typically through persuasion or example. It can come from your own personal brand, your employees, or your customers.

Finding creators to become ambassadors

Glossier products come with whitespace and stickers, making it easy to customize and create unique content. When people create high-quality content featuring Glossier products, the brand often reposts that on its main social media feed, reaching its 2.7 million followers.

Glossier's strategy is a simple yet effective flywheel approach: create customizable products that people want to create content around, share and repost customer-generated content, and encourage even more high-quality user-generated content. By following this approach, Glossier is able to build a strong sense of community and continuously improve the quality of content being shared.

Then high-quality and prolific Glossier content creators are invited to join the brand's ambassador program. They get a specialized coupon code to promote products and earn a commission on sales.

Announcing 'I am a Glossier Rep' & sharing the story

In 2017, one of the first steps in the Glossier ambassador program was for new ambassadors to create a blog post introducing themselves as a Glossier representative and dicussing the products they would be promoting.

These posts not only allowed ambassadors to announce their partnership with the brand and share their unique discount code but also allowed them to share their personal experiences with Glossier products and explain why they were excited to be promoting them.

This helped to create an authentic and transparent perspective for the audience, as it showed that the ambassadors were genuinely passionate about the products and not just pushing them for financial gain. Overall, this strategy helped to establish trust and credibility for the ambassador and the brand.

Using the Barbell Strategy

In April 2022, Glossier announced Grammy Award-winning musician Olivia Rodrigo as its first celebrity brand ambassador.

Despite already boasting a customer base of 5 million and a valuation of $1.2 billion, the company waited until it had solidified its position in the market and achieved unicorn status before bringing on a celebrity ambassador.

Celebrity endorsements can be costly and carry risks, as they typically require upfront payment and will not work on an affiliate-only basis. Before this milestone, Glossier primarily worked with micro-influencers, willing to participate in affiliate-only deals with no up-front payments.

The strategy they used here is called the barbell strategy of influencer marketing. It involves focusing on two ends of the risk spectrum: low-risk, low-upside options (such as affiliate-only deals with micro-influencers) and high-risk, high-upside options (such as celebrity endorsements).

By avoiding the middle ground of average risk and average return, the brand can limit its risk while leaving room for potentially unlimited upside. This allowed the brand to capitalize on the benefits of both approaches without exposing itself to unnecessary risk. The key is to carefully evaluate each opportunity and choose the option that best aligns with the brand's goals and risk tolerance.

Creator-specific landing pages

In the early days of Glossier, the company would create individual landing pages for each of its ambassadors to enhance their authority and showcase their chosen products, along with a discount code.

They don't seem to be doing this anymore. Our guess is that as the brand grew and the number of ambassadors increased, this approach became less scalable and required significant technology and resources to maintain. As a result, Glossier discontinued the practice. But it’s still good to implement if you have less than 50 ambassadors.

On the other hand, Revolve has successfully implemented a similar strategy by creating shopping pages for each of its ambassadors, demonstrating the potential for this approach with the right resources and execution.

3 things your brand can learn from Glossier

  • Partner with creators who can make a long-term impact that goes beyond a single campaign or partnership. And this starts by considering the potential within your current customer base before looking externally on social media for ambassadors. Athletic Greens is an example of another brand that uses this strategy.
  • It's a good idea to focus on making creators the hero if you are just starting out your influencer program. One way to do this is by providing them with special perks such as coupon codes for their audience, highlighting their story on your social channels, or creating special landing pages to showcase their selection. This can help to attract the right audience and other creators who may be interested in partnering with you.
  • Use the barbell approach. It’s natural to go after big celebrity influencers, but focus on your core niche community first. The celebrities would WANT to work with you once your brand is at a certain scale.  

Need a step-by-step strategy to create your ambassador program?

While reading about successful ambassador programs from top brands can be informative, it's important to remember that taking action is key to seeing results.

Our ’No BS Influencer Letter’ newsletter can help you turn your influencer marketing efforts into a profitable and effective strategy. Whether you're a small brand just starting out or have previously tried partnering with influencers without seeing positive returns, this newsletter is for you. Find a signup box on the right side and receive actionable advice every week ➡️

Every week you'll receive emails with actionable steps on everything from finding ambassadors to negotiating affiliate-only deals to creating long-term strategies. Don't just read about what's possible - take the first step towards making it a reality by signing up now.

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