For popular makeup and skincare brand Glossier, the evolution went as such: online store, then pop-up, and now a permanent flagship store in New York City. For a brand largely built upon the vicissitudes of social media (namely Instagram) and leveraging user-generated content featuring fans’ experiences with their products, opening a brick-and-mortar retail outlet may seem counterintuitive.
However, Glossier and startups of its ilk are finding that experiential marketing in the form of pop-ups and similar activations not only enhances online brand affinities, but it can also lead to new ways of doing business. Or, rather, old ways of doing business (even Amazon has opened a handful of bookstores in recent years).
Last February, Glossier founder Emily Weiss secured $52 million in Series C funding and soon after launched a series of pop-up experiences in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Now the brand has a flagship store that it bills as a “New York landmark-to-be,” where it will continue its community-building efforts IRL as they say.
Key to the retail experience is the myriad spaces it provides where, as Rosemarie Ho wrote in The Outline, you “can stage your relationship with the brand. You can take as many selfies as you want all over the space, and pose with the gigantic Boy Brows.”
The gigantic Boy Brows, in this case, are a sculptural nod to the company’s popular “all-in-one brow fluffer, filler, and shaper” that recall the larger-than-life representations of everyday objects by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen.
Glossier proves that the road to retail has an alternate route and pop-ups are a huge part of that journey. In March of this year, Glossier opened a month-long pop-up experience at Rhea’s Cafe, a popular eatery in San Francisco’s Mission District. There, they offered their entire product line as well as Rhea’s famous fried chicken sandwiches, proving that the possibilities of pop-up venues are endless (and occasionally tasty).