Why Market Research Should Borrow from Brands 1

By Amye Parker

Manhattan-based beauty company Glossier launched in late October, following a Baker Street pop-up store this past July. Market researchers should pay attention to Glossier. This is because Glossier has expertise in collaborating and engaging with consumers – something which is central to marker researcher’s ability to unearth relevant insights.

Glossier’s growth has been fuelled by the notion that we now live in a fan based economy. Within this, brands need passionate advocates and loyal enthusiasts. Similarly, as researchers we should want to build passionate research participants.

So what can market researchers learn from Glossier about how to drive passion?

Cultural Relevance & Access Touchpoints

Cultural Relevancy

Glossier is a spin-off from the popular beauty blog Into the Gloss’ which was started by Emily Weiss in 2010. The beauty blog now receives close to 10 million monthly page views, 1.5 million of those are from unique viewers.

Starting with a beauty blog allowed Glossier to first gain authority in the beauty space and grow a dedicated audience. Furthermore, Glossier was meeting people in the spaces they occupied by tapping into the growing popularity of blogs when it first launched its site. By seizing the opportunity online presented, founder Emily Weiss embedded Glossier in the culturally relevant space of online communities.

Access Touchpoints

To gain fans, you need to give them access and chances to engage. Glossier gives its followers many opportunities to share and repost content with their friends, and their social media strategy is so strong that its Instagram profile had 18,000 followers before any product had been announced. This grew to nearly 1 million followers just a few years later.

Take Away

Glossier is embedded in the online space that beauty enthusiasts occupy and engage with. The topic of relevancy and access is important for our work as researchers. When designing a project, we need to ensure that enough consideration is being given towards which physical and digital spaces are most relevant to not only your objective but your participants too. Would you get more from teens and young adults if they are participating in research that takes place on social platform, or a less familiar one-off research platform?

Brand Purpose

Strong Positioning

A brand needs strong positioning to foster fans and drive engagement. Weiss’ personality is injected into Glossier, and the brand voice is friendly. ‘Into the Gloss’ also features many posts directly from the founder, outlining her purpose and vision for Glossier: a beauty movement all about freedom and being yourself. This ultimately gives her audience something tangible to buy into. Furthermore, the brand assets are recognisable and appealing. So much so, there’s an Instagram hashtag solely dedicated to ‘Glossier pink’ which has garnered thousands of mentions.

Cool Factor

According to Van Den Bergh and Behrer’s 2013 book ‘How Cool Brands Stay Hot’, coolness is one of five ways to resonate with young consumers. Glossier delivers on this. From the beginning, ‘Into the Gloss’ published an online interview series featuring an eclectic mix of women’s beauty routines. Weiss differentiated by going ‘behind the scenes’ into influential women’s beauty routines. You are the company you keep and, by leveraging this adage, ‘Into the Gloss’ – and subsequently Glossier – boosted its profile by featuring a mix of hip, trending and inspiring women that aligned with Weiss’s vision for her brand.

Take Away

Glossier gives beauty enthusiasts a clear ethos and reason to buy into the brand. But do our research projects do the same? To maximise engagement, increase quality of responses and encourage stakeholder buy-in, our research needs to go beyond a simple project and become something that people want to be a part of.


As ‘Into the Gloss’ morphed into a brand, the idea of bringing followers ‘behind the scenes’ has also evolved. Glossier’s customers tend to be in the 18-35 age bracket and much has been said about this age group’s need for brands to engage with them. Glossier has effectively developed a 2-way dialogue with consumers through encouraging discussion, collaboration and involvement.

Weiss promotes the brand’s transparency, sharing key business stats, updates and funding sources with her followers. In fact, one of Glossier’s initial products, a skin cleanser, was informed by Weiss asking readers to tell her the details of their ideal cleanser. Insights from followers’ discussion, comments, reviews and feedback are directly fed to Glossier’s product innovation teams to great success.

Leveraging followers’ feedback serves two important roles. Firstly, followers feel included and prioritised by Glossier, knowing their feedback is being heard and acted on while boosting brand authenticity. Secondly, Glossier gains more direction and guidance on their customer’s needs, thus developing stronger and more differentiated products.

Take Away

Participants open-up more when the wall of objectivity is removed between themselves and a researcher. Adding a level of transparency about the research purpose (without sacrificing the goal, of course) fosters more good will and empowers the participant to share more freely. Allowing participants to be ‘in on the process’ also increases their commitment to the project.

In closing, the Glossier template of interaction provides exciting opportunities for researchers. Our industry must continue to think outside the box when it comes to our project design and methods. Looking outside our industry for inspiration is a great place to start – and what better place to begin than the latest brand to take the UK.

By Amye Parker, Northstar Research