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The Glamorous Side of Mud

Denise Herich and Jennifer Stansbury
  • Glamglow is one of the beauty industry’s latest success stories, as retail buyers and consumers alike are fawning over the brand’s mud masks and skin care products.
  • For Glamglow, the focus is on youthful, sexy, radiant skin, and it works all the angles—marketing, packaging, testing and beyond—to ensure consumers associate the brand with these attributes.
  • Consumer product testing has been a big part of Glamglow’s success, helping the brand to both gain new fans from the panelists and to attract wider attention with the stunning claims and results it can boast as a result of these testing panels.
  • You know a beauty brand has reached an unprecedented level of cool when they’ve successfully trademarked the phrase “Stay Sexy.”

Glamglow absolutely oozes confidence; with all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. And it should. The three-year-old volcanic mud mask maker is one of the beauty industry’s hottest skin care companies. It started as a homemade mud mask, carefully bottled by co-CEOs Glenn and Shannon Dellimore in their living room for Hollywood friends looking to find a nonsurgical product that would make their skin look camera-ready in just 10 minutes. Now Glamglow products have become the must-haves of the celebrity set. But the celeb market is not the only market the brand dominates.

Like a Movie

Glamglow’s skyrocketing success story almost reads like a Hollywood script. In 2011, it had retail sales of $3.2 million with just one SKU. One year later, the company realized nearly 550% growth and boasted revenues of $17.5 million, still with only one SKU. In 2013, only two years since the founding of the company and with only two more SKUs, retail sales reached a staggering $106.9 million.

Glamglow products are now sold in 86 countries through 6,500 retail outlets and salons, and beyond the products selling well, the brand is building loyalists out of savvy, sexy consumers obsessed with skin care—the ones who are eager to spend $69 for the products. But the love does not stop there—the industry seems to adore the brand, as well. In less than three years, Glamglow has collected 16 global beauty awards, having recently been awarded the CEW Indie Beauty Award, as well as being named winner of the “Best Mask in the World” by 44 of the global editions of Elle magazine in 2014, and has been named a beauty award winner by Good Housekeeping (2014), Teen Vogue (2014), Cosmopolitan (2014), Marie Clare (2013) and Neiman Marcus.

This article explores two important aspects of Glamglow’s success—its marketing strategy and its ability to connect to and draw in its target consumers. Glamglow’s marketing strategy includes direct, bold, in-your-face messaging backed by wildly enthusiastic consumer claims garnered through product testing. And in addition to marketable product efficacy and experiential results/claims, this testing creates Glamglow evangelists for life.

Sexy, Consistent Messaging

In Hollywood, looking young, radiant and sexy has always been paramount to success. That constant, insatiable demand for youth and beauty in Hollywood and across America drives every aspect of Glamglow’s product offerings and brand message. And there is no ambiguity about the product claims among the brand’s consumers, as each SKU in the limited product line speaks to the pursuit of flawless skin and eternal youth by delivering the same message: the results will be sexy, radiant, youthful skin.

Glamglow delivers that message through its packaging, merchandising and product commonalities. “Super Sexy Radiant Skin” is one of Glamglow’s trademarked phrases, and it appears on all of its product packaging. The secondary packaging itself is also unusual and stunning, clearly differentiating it from competitors on retail shelves. Square, octagon, round or eye-shaped boxes are cleanly designed with solid coloring, and are adorned with stars for an association with old Hollywood glamour. There is an effort to also make the packaging looks like more of a gift than just a package to hold 1.7 ounces of product. And each SKU in Glamglow’s product line has its own unique secondary packaging and color yet exudes the same message of glamour, exclusivity and sexiness. “Hydrated, sexy-looking young skin never goes out of style,” says Shannon Dellimore. “Both women and men want to look their best everyday without adding significant time to their skin care regimen. The 10-minute, sexy skin message resonates with everyone.”

The sexy Hollywood message doesn’t end with the products either—it extends to the entire brand. Glamglow’s website ( transports the user to Hollywood, with starry imagery that helps to tell the brand’s story. And even the company’s headquarters is Hollywood sexy. Called GlamLand Manor, Glamglow’s hub of operations is a mansion set in the Hollywood Hills with a captivating view of the city below. Once enjoyed by the likes of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, the gated home is almost more of a museum of glamour, as each spacious room is spectacularly furnished with one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture and artwork that all scream Hollywood glitz and glamour. Glamglow products are delicately displayed throughout the mansion and naturally blend into the environment.

Killer Claims She Can’t Resist

Glamglow’s sexy packaging and messages were always hits with its exclusive Hollywood clientele in the company’s early days, but to convince retail buyers around the world that the unisex masks were far superior to anything else they’ve ever tried, the brand needed focused product testing that would validate the products’ attributes and give them marketing claims and testimonials that would pay off in spades in global retail sales.

To start, Glamglow contracted with The Beauty Company (now The Benchmarking Company) to undergo beauty product testing with a significant panel of users for its first commercially available product, Youthmud Tinglexfoliate Treatment, a 10-minute, professional “facial in a jar” for behind-the-scenes use in Hollywood’s entertainment, music, fashion and award industries to help offer immediately camera-ready, glowing skin.

Beauty product testing groups involve sending either a prototype or a product that is conditionally approved for in-market commercialization and has undergone appropriate safety and stability testing to a defined panel of target consumers. The purpose is to have this panel use the product according to specific usage instructions for a given time period and ask the panelists to assess their experiences with the product at various intervals throughout the trial. This process delivers valuable insights regarding the top “selling” aspects of the products, as well as works to help build buzz and excitement around the release of a new beauty offering. Testers who fell in love at the first application, though may not have been previously familiar with Glamglow and its products, are likely to become product loyalists even before the product hits store shelves.

The results of the first product test for the Youthmud Tinglexfoliate were immediately useful and incredibly impressive. The percentage of users agreeing to the claims below was consistently in the high 90s, which is a testament to the perfection of the formula. The product testing (of 100 users) included results such as these:

  • 100% agree it brightens dull skin.
  • 99% agree skin is noticeably softer and smoother.
  • 98% agree it provides an instantly refreshed and awakened look.
  • 97% agree it provides gentle surface exfoliation.
  • 97% agree it leaves skin smoother, brighter and softer.
  • 97% agree it produces immediate results.

Glamglow went on to test its Supermud Clearing Treatment product. It had recently patented its Teaoxi formula, which combines real pieces of eucalyptus leaf with high-end technology. The combination of elements is the foundation of the company’s proprietary continuous time-release technology, which delivers a constant flow of fresh ingredients into the mud from the pieces of the leaf contained in all of the masks. This proprietary formula delivers a unique skin experience best described as a “zing.” Glamglow wanted to test the products’ effect on skin clarity and whether the “zing” was felt by users, as well as if users felt the product was gentle, if it cleared skin and more.

Again, the results were exciting and validated the company’s technology and approach while also arming it with more glowing consumer claims. The Supermud Clearing Treatment beauty product testing included results such as these:

  • 98% agree skin looks renewed.
  • 97% agree it improves skin’s clarity.
  • 97% agree it gently clears the skin.
  • 96% agree it detoxifies and unclogs pores.

Glamglow has since committed to beauty product testing for all of its products, including its Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment and Brightmud Eye Treatment products, where the brand particularly tested the efficacy of its proprietary bioactive technology. The results, again, were impressive. Glamglow uses these claims to support its sexy, youthful skin messaging in a variety of ways. The claims are proudly hailed on each product’s secondary packaging, so browsers in Sephora, for example, can instantly see that 96% of women agree the product boosts skin radiance, among its many other powerful claims. Glamglow also used the claims in materials aimed at global retailers before entering international markets, and it currently uses them in ads, as well as on product spec sheets. In addition, every product on the Glamglow website includes claims derived from beauty product testing in the results portion of each product’s information page.

“Beauty product testing validates everything we’ve worked so hard to achieve,” said Brady Heyborne, vice president of business development at Glamglow. “Testing gives us fantastic information and claims that we use everywhere.”

Glamglow’s fast and furious success has everything to do with the right formula and products executed with precision and focus. The company delivers products that are proven to work, get real results and drive intense consumer demand. And at the heart of its success story is the brand’s ability to clearly understand how to reach the consumer. Knowing that 91% of women state consumer claims influence their purchasing decisions, brands looking to emulate Glamglow’s rapid success need to identify the claims and messages that resonate with them and affect their buying decisions.

Denise Herich and Jennifer Stansbury are co-founders and managing partners at The Benchmarking Company, a bi-coastal consumer research firm borne from Alisa Beyer’s The Beauty Company. The Benchmarking Company provides marketing and strategy professionals in the beauty and personal care industries with forward-thinking, need-to-know information about its customers and prospects through consumer research studies and beauty product testing.

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