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The Next Generation of Retailers Is Using Physical Stores for Branding, Not Sales

Boom With A View by Erin Griffith: Startups and Venture CapitalBoom With A View by Erin Griffith: Startups and Venture Capital

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Get ready to hear a lot more about Glossier and Outdoor Voices in the coming year. Glossier, a cosmetics and personal care company founded by former Vogue fashion assistant Emily Weiss, calls itself the “first beauty lifestyle brand.” Outdoor Voices makes athletic gear; its CEO Tyler Haney says the company’s goal is to be “the next Nike.” Both companies are venture-backed, both have rabid fan bases of women, both are frequently sold out. Both companies have turned down buyout offers from larger competitors.

But perhaps the most notable thing about Glossier and Outdoor Voices is the way they view physical retail spaces, which they have just started to experiment with.

Outdoor Voices’ stores “are not about revenue but about community — giving the customer a hook into the O.V. community” Haney said on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York on Monday. Same goes for Glossier’s “beauty showrooms,” according to Weiss. “While the sales are through the roof and defy all odds, what’s more interesting are the girls who come once a week because they want to feel the energy in the room, and I can’t say that about large beauty retailers,” she says.

With retail chains set to close stores at a record clip this year, they’ll have plenty of open real estate in which to expand their physical footprint.