Why the CEO of Glossier Thinks Retail Companies Need to Invest More in the Customer

Emily Weiss on tailoring brands' connections to consumers

Glossier's CEO believes in the power of peer recommendations. Getty Images
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Retail companies like to emphasize that they put the customer first, but in reality, it doesn’t always shake out that way. Enter Glossier, a beauty brand that tailors its packaging and in-store experience to make the consumer feel good—and spread that recommendation to their friends.

Glossier CEO and founder Emily Weiss emphasized that ethos at the retail conference Shoptalk in Las Vegas. Weiss spoke about why Glossier is “obsessed” with its customers and the company’s push to invest in consumer connection.

Weiss noted how impersonal the offline shopping experience—in which customers interact with sales people who might not share the same makeup or beauty interests as them—can be.

On the flip side, Glossier, which gets 80 percent of its customers come via a peer-to-peer recommendation, thinks it has an edge on providing that more intimate connection consumers want.

“It doesn’t matter what the brand says about the product; it matters what the customers says about the product,” Weiss said. “We made a bet that when you get people talking about your products, this is more interesting.”

And it’s not just an ethos Glossier wants to adopt. Weiss said these personal customer connections to the brand are “the future of the internet.”

“So in the age of Amazon, who’s mastered the breadth of product, who has yet solved for the breadth of connection?” Weiss said. “So in the end, you have to build community, you have to give your customers a voice, you have to truly listen to them and not just make them feel heard. You have to treat them with the respect that they deserve.”

It’s a message the company takes to heart, with its packaging stating “you look good” and showrooms with the same messaging. It’s a small touch that adds a bit of personalization and a connection between the brand and the consumer.

Weiss noted that the Glossier way sounds like a “crazy proposition for traditional retail companies—encourage your customers to spend more time on your site, and purchase fewer products,” but brands don’t necessarily have a say in the matter as consumers have more options.

“Because after all, in this world, where there’s no scarcity of choice, you have to give them a reason to keep choosing you,” Weiss said.

@itstheannmarie annmarie.alcantara@adweek.com Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.