#BeatThatFace: How Social Media Reshaped the Beauty Industry

Have you ever scrolled through the explore page on Instagram and wondered why there were so many winged eyeliner tutorials or #MUA (Make-Up Artist) looks on your feed?30957180_1758550127525322_1607747793_o.png Who even follows those pages anyways? Well, it turns out, more than you would think. The beauty industry’s presence on Instagram has been growing in the past few years, and consequently, so has its revenue – the global beauty market is estimated to grow from $432.7 billion in 2016 to a whopping $750 billion by 2024. So what caused this spike in interest in the beauty industry?

There are a lot of factors which can be attributed to our changing values in society, but most experts agree the largest factor is the rise in social media. The beauty industry has seen a revival thanks to social media, starting back with an increase in blogs and Tumblr pages dedicated to makeup fanatics and now reaching a peak with Instagram. Makeup artists are no longer creating looks to only be seen on runways or in glossy ads. There is a new medium taking over: the selfie. giphy.gifThe selfie single-handedly transformed makeup media, and suddenly everyone has a new reason to #BeatThatFace (industry slang for heavily making-up one’s face). The rules of the game have changed – whether it’s #SelfieSunday or any day of the week, makeup bloggers and regular users alike don’t need a reason to makeup their face and post a selfie.

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Instagram post via @joellehyman

In fact, it doesn’t stop there. Ana Andjelic explains, “Distribution in the age of the internet doesn’t mean just a sales channel. It means every experience that will help the product spread. It can be packaging worth Instagramming, a tight community of die-hard fans, dialogue-inspiring content, a strong feedback loop or a beautifully photographable store.”And lately, one brand has aced this virality test and created an online cult following with an unmatched devotion: Glossier.

If you’ve been absent from the internet makeup scene, you might not have heard about Glossier, the latest must-have brand.

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Glossier’s NYC showroom

Glossier was launched in 2014 via Into the Gloss, a makeup blog that already had a strong religious following. As of August 2017, Glossier’s revenues are up 600 percent year over year and the brand has tripled its active customer count in the past 12 months. The brand has achieved this success through strategic decisions utilizing customers that live on social and products that were readily Instagrammable.


@glossier on Instagram

Glossier has only recently began to dabble in out-of-home advertising, but almost all of the brand’s press has come from its virality and word-of-mouth.

So how did they do it? Well first, they started with quality products – a notable part of their success. Most high end beauty products don’t actually cost $100 to make, so founder Emily Weiss took that opportunity to offer their products at a more reasonable price. However, good products can only get you so far – the rest is where strategic marketing decisions play a role. The brand’s launch through blog Into the Gloss was key to developing a loyal audience early on, attracting them from a pool of avid beauty fans who were already active in the online beauty community. Additionally, journalist Alyssa Giacobbe explains, “The packaging was also designed to inspire conversation. Glossier’s bottles would be Instagram-worthy, with a lot of white space and each purchase came with a sheet of emoji-like stickers — ­leading consumers to personalize their bottles and then share them on social media.” From there the brand has taken on a personality of its own online. The Instagram account boasts over 1.1M followers and displays a mix of fresh-faced Glossier looks and vanity inspiration, all to the theme of light pink hues. Not to mention their crowd-sourced marketing – Glossier reaches out to customers and beauty influencers to act as reps. Each rep gets their own page, and offers a discount for using their promo code. It pays off in a big way – according to Weiss, last year 79% of sales came from “organic and peer-to-peer and earned sources.”

Glossier has seized the beauty moment, and the industry is taking notice. With all of Glossier’s success speaking for itself, more brands are wondering how they can capture the potential of a strong online persona as well. As time goes on we will continue to see the online beauty movement grow stronger, and I, personally, cannot wait.


  1. mikecarillo111 · ·

    I always look forward to your blogs because they usually talk about something I have no idea about and I find it fascinating. It’s crazy to see how peer-to-peer purchasing and advertisement, particularly on instagram, has led to people being considered public figures and icons. This concept of the beauty sector establishing themselves and harping on the network effect is clearly working by having their sales increase so dramatically. Additionally, they are using the hottest app (at least I think so) with instagram in showing people that the product works, works well, and is affordable. Always love your posts. Great job!

  2. Nice post and an interesting angle on a topic we haven’t heard alot about yet this semester. We visited Madison Reed on Tech Trek (haircolor), and it was fascinating.

  3. HenryChenChen · ·

    Nice post, I have never heard of Glossier before and its very interesting too see their marketing strategy. I like how they made their bottles to be Instagram worthy, by giving you some stickers and personalize it. Such product takes advantage of social media.Seems the company is doing very well in their growth an sales by adopting the crowdsource marketing. And I agree with you that many companies are trying to enhance their social media presence, such as Starbucks post different drinks to attract followers on Instagram.

  4. phanauer1 · ·

    I’m glad you posted about Glossier because I know the brand but only recently learned that they were an online only/primarily brand that really rose with this shift in social media towards beauty gurus and the rise of the beauty industry. They’re a great example of a company that’s had great success in their marketing plan considering their smart start on a website that already had a cult following leading it to blow up within the beauty focused world online. I’m curious to see what they do going forward – as the brand continues to grow, I’m sure they’d want to gain some recognition outside of the committed beauty community and become somewhat more mainstream, maybe with placement in stores like Sephora or Ulta. That strategy would certainly be a step away from what’s worked for them in the past but might be necessary to continue to grow profits at a certain point, so I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on them in the future, great post!

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