For tech companies, brand marketing is generally one of the last functions to be built. Traditionally brand marketing requires a large media budget and a visionary executive (think Bozoma Saint John, the woman sent to save Uber). However, with the influx of disruptive, direct to consumer companies like Allbirds, Everlane and Glossier, we’re seeing a new intersection of brand, customer support and product.
These customer-centric companies focus on trust, transparency and community as a competitive advantage against traditional retailers. Early customers are actively involved in product development and brand building. While most large retailers struggle with transparency and the immediate ROI of community, the new breed of customer-centric companies focus on building for the customer and the value of a long-term relationship.
According to a study by Label Insight, 73% of consumers say they’re willing to pay more for a product that promises total transparency.
At YC Female Founder’s conference, Emily Weiss shared her vision for Glossier and the future of customer experience. For Glossier, the 1.5M unique visitors per month are more than just shoppers. They’re content creators, product testers and brand advocates.
Some thoughts from Glossier CEO Emily Weiss:
- Engagement metrics aren’t soft metrics: likes, comments and original UGC impacts the bottom line. Every comment doesn’t change the overall product strategy, but each customer is heard. Beauty recommendations happen offline and online, so every customer has voice. They are actively building the brand and fueling growth.
“Beauty is an activator for connection. It provides a voice. Every woman has an opinion and she curates her own daily routine. Beauty is an equalizer among women.”
- Community builds brand trust and credibility: Glossier’s social content includes a mix of brand and user-generated content
When we look at beauty before YouTube, it was a relatively solitary routine. There was no community or ongoing education for the average person. Early lessons from mother figures and offline recommendations from friends influenced future purchase decisions.
- Commerce has become democratized by reviews and star ratings: women want the best, so reviews and user-generated content are expected.
- Listen to your users, but don’t 1:1 crowdsource. Glossier listens and engages on social media, but it does not 1:1 crowdsource product and editorial direction. Glossier’s goal is to listen, engage and inspire. Inspiration encourages experimentation and accelerates your beauty routine. In beauty, free samples provide a low risk way to test new products and go a little bigger and bolder.
Modern iconic brands have a strong editorial direction and a humble approach to customer feedback.
Weiss spoke to Glossier’s NYC showroom strategy, which encourages women to come in store and experiment. The retail location was designed for experimenting with new products. It’s become a social space where women meet before brunch and try new items together. It creates a sense of community and a tangible way to interact with the brand.
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