DIP 001: Glossier and the art of a good tease

Hi 👋 Happy Sunday and welcome to the first installment of Chips + Dips. Here’s tonight’s spread:

The Chips 🍿

  • P+G is incubating a clean-ingredient brand via Instagram and it’s super cringe-y.

  • Comme Si is a new sock label with a seriously pretty, elevated brand identity. I’m loving the Thom Browne-esque pull tab.

  • Wirecutter-favorite Snowe is launching linen sheets this week. It also redesigned its website to feature larger images and cleaner browsing.

  • Industry Standard, a well-received basics label, put itself up for sale a few months ago and is back with a new owner.

  • A day or so after RightRice launched, Banza rolled out its own legume-based rice. I picked both of them up at Whole Foods the other day and look forward to sampling them, but am deeply irked that they’re both calling an orzo “rice.”

  • The latest drop from Food52’s Five Two brand has landed: wooden spoons with some seriously pretty grain patterns.


The Dip 🍯

D2C darling Glossier is working on something new. An Instagram post announced the forthcoming launch of a new brand, Glossier Play, and the internet was instantly abuzz with speculation: Is this the long-awaited community platform (see A, B, C)? Is it colorful makeup palettes (see A)? Is it home fragrances (see A, B)?

Rather than unpack what Glossier Play might be, I want to look at its hype machine and explore how Glossier has emerged as the lifestyle brand to beat.

Staying In Front

Since day one, Glossier has positioned itself as a brand for and by “real” people. Its products are developed in tandem with customer feedback, and it rewards followers for engaging with the brand by reposting their photos on Instagram and inviting them to become brand reps. Glossier’s customers are its most valuable marketing tool.

How did it get there? By listening to the people it’s selling to.

It’s both simple and revolutionary. Glossier knows who its audience is and where they are, and it speaks to them there. Its advertisements sell conversation and engagement, not a transaction. It doesn’t advertise in a particular channel because marketing best practices say that it should. Glossier has its finger on the pulse, but it also has blinders on, and those blinders are what have allowed it to lead.

Take its pop-ups and showrooms, for example. They’re built around products and engagement. Yes, there are Instagrammable moments baked in, but it’s grounded in the product, works to tell a cohesive story, and makes shopping an experience worth sharing.

Or, let’s look at its product launches. At last year’s Oscars, Glossier seeded its new Lidstar eyeshadow to makeup artists and shared photos of A-list actresses wearing the new product. It was next-level influencer marketing but it didn’t feel like influencer marketing. No one was selling you a product — they were showing it to you, and you wanted it.

The funny thing is that Glossier’s products aren’t inherently new, but the way they’re launched and marketed is. Its products are solutions and improvements, even if that means it just comes in nicer packaging or has a cooler name (looking at you, Balm Dotcom). Glossier’s power lies in its community, but that community would not exist without boundary-pushing marketing.

A Cautionary Tale

In January, Casper archived its entire Instagram feed and began teasing a new product: the Casper Glow. In archiving its feed, Casper seemed to take a cue from Everlane, which did the same thing leading up to the launch of its ReNew outerwear and its commitment to eliminate virgin plastic from its supply chain by 2021. Whereas the intrigue built by Everlane archiving its feed was justified, Casper’s was not. Everlane was staking a claim; Casper made a night light for adults. Yes, it marks a new chapter for Casper (holistic sleep products), but Glow needs to do more. It needs guided meditations in the style of Dodow, plus a standalone counterpart that can be screwed into any light fixture.

Play Time

There’s little doubt that Play will sell. Glossier’s following is strong and will eat up just about anything thrown its way.

But for the hype to be justified, Play needs to be truly innovative. It needs to take the customer relationship to the next level, either because of what the product is, how it’s marketed, or how customers are expected to engage with it. Glossier has been reimagining what a customer-brand relationship can look like. Here’s hoping that Play can take it even further.

References

Real Dip 🍴

Nutty, smoky, eat-it-by-the-spoonful romesco from Botanica in LA. Recipe here.

Try it with roasted vegetables or on toast with a fried egg. I first had this at last year’s Healthyish Homecoming, a series of talks and workshops hosted by Bon Appetit that served as proof that a “traditional media publication” can still establish an active, loyal community. I’ve made it several times since, growing looser with measurements and ratios with each iteration, and it never fails to thrill me 👅

Stay hungry,

— Emily ✨