When Beauty Becomes Digitalized: A Consumer-oriented Analysis of Glossier's Branding on Instagram

Simone Graugaard Løkke & Christine Aaby Reitoft

Student thesis: Master thesis


The beauty industry has traditionally been dominated by 10 multinational corporations, who have controlled approximately 70% of the total market share. This leading position, however, is now being challenged by a group of digital native players that have emerged in the market as a response to the drastic changes in consumer behaviour experienced in recent years, due to the increasingly important role of social media. These newcomers have evidently shaken up the foundation on which the beauty industry lies along with ripping up the marketing playbook, yet the question of how exactly they have achieved this remains largely unanswered in academic writing. The purpose of this master thesis is thus to investigate in what ways the digital native brand, Glossier, has influenced the development of the beauty industry by the use of social media. This was examined through a mixed method approach combining a content analysis of Glossier’s Instagram account with the purpose of mapping out its different content types and their respective popularity based on the amount of likes and comments, together with six semi structured interviews, which explored the target groups’ use of social media, their personal relationship with beauty and most importantly their thoughts and feelings about Glossier’s content on Instagram. The results from the quantitative and qualitative investigation were then analysed and put into perspective by drawing on theories from the two research traditions; social media and branding. Based upon the analysis and discussion it was found that Glossier primarily contributes to a paradigm shift in the beauty industry by featuring Micro Influencers and regular users in their content on Instagram along with a large amount of lifestyle related content that taps in to the everyday lives of the Millennials target group, which from a customer perspective makes the brand seem more relevant and trustworthy. Furthermore, Glossier has taken the traditional players by surprise by implementing a customer centric strategy, where the customers’ feedback, which is obtained through social media, plays a crucial role in the development of new products that has resulted in the formation of a strong brand community of loyal customers. Last but not least, it was found that Glossier has contributed to a development in the market for beauty products by operating with an informal and humorous tone of voice, thus channelling the feeling of talking to a girlfriend rather than a brand, which has strengthened the consumer brand relationship.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages130
SupervisorsFabian Csaba