Makeup market: how Glossier became one of the fastest growing beauty brands

25 Oct 2019|5 MIN READ

The beauty market is feeling the full effect of the power of social media. Powered by the people, this consumer driven medium has completely changed the way beauty brands connect with their audience.

In 2019, cosmetic brands claimed an average of 15.4 million Instagram followers, and when 80% of Instagram users admit to turning to the platform before making a purchase decision, makeup brands can hardly stand to neglect the medium.

With Instagram has also come an audience change. New priorities set by Millennials and Gen-Zers need to be aligned with, along with their growing expectations to receive more for less.

As such, many cosmetic brands have failed to keep up with the shift, giving way to smaller, tuned in beauty brands. Which brands are winning in this new climate?

We analysed 2019 UK search volume to reveal:

Disclaimer: when we say ‘beauty brands’ we are exclusively looking at makeup brands, excluding brands that mostly focus on skincare products.


Top 10 brands in the beauty market

Most searched brands in Google UK for beauty market Oct 2018 - Oct 2019

This table reveals the top 10 beauty brand searched online in the last 12 months.

Most searched brands in Google UK for makeup market Oct 2018 - Oct 2019

The other five brands in the online beauty market are smaller brands, with a product focus on makeup.
Of the top 10 beauty brands, five are what we might call ‘established’; Mac, Chanel, Estee Lauder and Clinique. These brands are well known in the cosmetic space, with a wide product range across makeup, skincare and fragrance.
Chanel in particular has a broad product base, offering clothing and accessories as well as beauty.

As we’ll see, the top 10 beauty brands online in the last 12 months differ greatly to the top growing brands in the beauty market...

Top growing brands in the beauty market

Percentage increase of Google UK search volume between 2018 to 2019


Makeup market: Percentage increase of Google UK search volume between 2018 to 2019

Many of the fastest growing brands in the beauty market have a few traits in common, most notably:

What the best beauty brands have in common

  • Inclusivity: in previous years the beauty market has catered to a small portion of people, excluding a broad spectrum of skin tones, but new beauty brands are rejecting exclusivity, some even building their whole brand around inclusivity.
  • Ethical beauty: more and more beauty brands are using ethically responsible ingredients in order to appeal to their eco conscious customer base. This is often reflected in their branding and design with minimalist clean looks. In fact, the UK was Europe’s leading makeup market for ‘clean’ colour cosmetics in 2018.

There’s clearly a growing trend in the beauty market, which consumers are buying into.

Best beauty brands: Glossier

Glossier’s minimalist branding and super cool community is enough to make anyone want to become a beauty blogger.

But that’s not the only reason Glossier has become a leader in the beauty market in just four short years. A large part of their success is thanks to some clever guerilla online marketing.

Glossier on social

Glossier’s strategy relies heavily on Instagram to reach and engage with customers. Their CEO and founder Emily Weiss said in an interview with Entrepreneur “Our customer is on Instagram, and it’s how and where she’s crafting her online persona, so we had to be there...We used Instagram to launch Glossier, and that’s really where the brand is taking shape.”

The beauty brand has completely bought into millennial and Gen-Z culture, capitalising on the generations desire for authenticity. Like many others in the beauty market, Glossier uses influencer marketing, but they don’t use your typical fashionista celeb, instead partnering with high profile individuals from all walks of life, including Megan Rapinoe, Michelle Obama and even Atoni from Queer Eye.

They then go further with their inclusivity by making their instagram audience into influencers. Glossier are empowering real people to be beauty models - in fact their instagram tag line is ‘Glossier Inc. is a people-powered beauty ecosystem’.

They’ve made a cool club that everyone can be a part of and actively involved in.

Glossier in the SERPs

Mobilising their customer base has resulted in a wealth of online Glossier content.

Using their brand name as a search term, ‘glossier’ returns a diverse SERP landscape. Each column in the chart below represents the composition of page one in Google, across the month of October 2019.

SERP landscape for the search term ‘glossier’

[metaslider id=28165]
Glossier’s own site dominates the first three to four spots, consistently performing for Text ads, Site links and Product ads. As they operate direct to customer, and don’t use resellers, they monopolise the SERPs for their products.

Video carousels and Twitter cards also persistently appear for the beauty brands name. Unlike the first three spots, these SERP features are driven by their socially cultivated community. They’ve got a huge pool of content creators working for them, and boosting their brand in Google.

If we contrast this diversity with an ‘established’ brand like Mac - number 2 on our top 10 beauty brands - we can see how impressive Glossier’s SERP landscape is.

SERP landscape for the search term ‘mac’

[metaslider id=28172]
Although there is a range of SERP features returning, consumable content (such as Video cards and Top stories) are performing much further down page 1 compared to Glossier.

Like Glossier, Mac consistently hold the top three spots in Google for their brand search, but then gives way to reseller sites.

Why is search performance important for the beauty market?

Whilst social may be the first port of call for cosmetic brands, amplifying their brand awareness and even driving web traffic, search visibility has a major part to play in overall performance.

Social helps you reach your customers, whereas search is where you’ll be found once they’ve bought into your brand. In fact, having strong brand presence in search actually strengthens your brand authority - and the more real estate you take up on Google, the more likely your customers will engage with you and your surrounding content.

Social and search working in tandem is the essence of strong online marketing. Competing in the saturated beauty market, where new players are emerging, and old players are prominent, cosmetic companies need an integrated online strategy to really stand out and build their brand.


If you want to see more data on the beauty market, view our Beauty Market Leaders, showcasing the top performing sites for generic beauty terms in search.

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