Social Media Series: Product Development and the Power of Social Media

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Social Media Series: Product Development and the Power of Social Media

Social front end product development is a concept that is gaining traction in the business world. Why? Because it yields off the charts results! Front-end product development involves using social media to gain valuable insights on what customers want. But, it’s not just about social listening, it’s about engaging clients directly in the creation and development of a product or service.

Glossier is a cosmetics company that launched in 2014 and has since raised over 10.4 million in venture capital funding. The company boast impressive stats, (1) including:

  • Selling a year worth of inventory in the first quarter of 2015
  • More than doubling active customer counts YTD
  • 10,000 person waiting list for one of their products

The beginnings of the company stem from a beauty blog created by Glossier founder Emily Weiss called “Into the Gloss” which featured interviews with celebrities and a who’s who in the cosmetics world. Weiss started the blog to connect with women and share real life stories about makeup and bring real life experiences to the beauty world. The blog garnered a lot of customer engagement because clients identified with the personal stories on the blog, and often weighed in with their experiences and opinions.

Weiss says, “ I think what’s really remarkable about Glossier is that it’s really community driven”. (2)

The tagline on the Glossier website welcomes the customer, “Hi! We’re Glossier, a beauty company inspired by what girls need in real life. We’re creating the new essentials: easy-to-use basics that form the backbone to your unique beauty routine” The entire Glossier experience is based on personalized content and customized products. The Glossier girl is involved and knowledgeable.

Weiss tapped into that collective knowledge to create products that women were asking for. Before launching the company, Weiss spent months gathering data and engaging in social listening to get the pulse on the industry. (3)

The process: Weiss asked her clients, “who would play this cleaner in a movie,” as a way to get customers talking about their dream face cleaner.

The result: A year later, Weiss had her answer, including a cast of Hollywood A-listers with flawless skin, “one part Cate Blanchette, one part Tilda Swinton, and some Lupita Nyong’o. The development team teased out keywords like “mild” and “glowy” from the hundreds of responses and sent the answers directly to their chemist.

The product: The Milky Jelly Cleanser.

Lessons for Others

Glossier took an established community and created products around the needs and desires of the community. They invited their customers to be part of the process by participating in the front end product development. Customers feel like they have a personal stake in Glossier, and that Glossier gets them.  Everyone needs validation in their lives, and Glossier provides this to their customers, who in turn become fiercely loyal brand advocates.  With a 10,000 person waiting list for lipstick, it is evident that Glossier’s approach is a win.

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