“Los Angeles is a huge market for us, and San Francisco — in a lot of California we have a lot of demand,” Glossier founder and chief executive officer Emily Weiss told WWD, speaking from San Francisco, where a monthlong pop-up store is open through Friday. Weiss said the pop-up has seen a Glossier product sold every 20 seconds on average.
And the brand’s retail sales overall have been brisk with a conversion rate of 50 percent, meaning half of all visitors to its permanent New York showroom and other pop-ups it’s held over the last several months have made a purchase. In just under a month that the San Francisco pop-up has been open, 20,000 shoppers have come in, according to Weiss.
Glossier also held a weeklong pop-up in London recently, which drew 10,000 visitors, and Weiss said another weeklong pop-in Toronto last year had a line out the door “pretty much the whole time.”
The company’s only current permanent space, its 1,500-square-foot New York showroom, which opened in late 2016, is also busy, especially considering it’s on the sixth floor of a building in the NoLIta neighborhood of Manhattan. The showroom regularly sees 2,000 visitors on busy days, Weiss said. She added that the showroom generates around 1,000 pieces of tagged social content each month, which is in line with the more than 1,000 pieces of tagged content that the San Francisco pop-up has so far generated.
While Weiss declined to give specifics on offline sales, industry sources estimate that the New York showroom last year did somewhere around $8 million in business, or about $5,300 in sales per square foot.
And it seems that level of business is expected for the new L.A. outpost, which is slated to open next month in a 1,500-square-foot, ground-level space on Melrose Avenue, near the likes of Violet Grey, Isabel Marant and The Line.
Again, Weiss declined to talk sales projections, but she noted: “All of our offline sales have been pretty consistent at a 50 percent conversion. We don’t see there being any difference in L.A.” Glossier likely has a decent idea of exactly what to expect since it held a pop-up last April in the same neighborhood.
As for why Glossier — a true digitally native brand that grew out of Weiss’ beauty blog Into the Gloss and is seen in the beauty industry as the first real direct-to-consumer player — is going deeper into retail, Weiss said it ties in well with the company’s focus on how its largely Millennial and Gen Z customer wants to interact with the brand.
“It’s meant to be the pinnacle of engagement with Glossier,” Weiss said. “We want to delight our customer and give her something she can’t experience anywhere else in the world.”
The still developing design of the L.A. store took from its cultural surroundings, a “wink to the L.A. lifestyle,” as Weiss put it, and has a theme of driving through the California desert. Glossier’s pop-up locations have been designed based on the city they were in, but the new L.A. store will be equipped with a “Glossier Canyon,” aimed at generating selfies.
Beyond giving shoppers a new way to engage with and experience Glossier — the latter of which is something Glossier president Henry Davis told WWD in February is “at the core” of the company’s intention to become a “massive, stand-alone business” in the context of an initial public offering possibly being in the company’s future — going offline has also proven to be a fruitful ground for discovery and developments in the brand’s digital presence and output.
“The frenetic engagement that comes out of the shopping experience offline has inspired, and continues to inspire, the digital product and experience online,” Weiss said. “What is it about Glossier that has women waiting in the rain like they did in San Francisco? What is it that has them flying to see us? Those are the questions that are really interesting to us and the answer to those is there is an experience that customers are craving.
“The connection is something that people crave,” Weiss continued. “Historically, beauty is a connective, shared experience, from early department stores to YouTube. But it has been democratized and it will continue to be.”
As for what’s next, Weiss said Glossier has a lot of “strategic goals” aimed at evolving and expanding its product line and expanding internationally, starting with Canada, the U.K. and France — but opening a second retail location isn’t the start of a major retail push.
“Our offline activations are really the icing on the cake — we’re not looking to go wide with those,” Weiss said. “We want to make it a very unique and special experience. If we do them everywhere, we won’t be able to deliver on that.”
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