Case Studies

When Rebranding Goes Wrong

The Desiree Team
November 1, 2023
Glossier, a brand that epitomises millennial pink, minimalist aesthetics, and a direct-to-consumer model, found itself at the centre of a rebranding misadventure earlier this year.

A customer favourite—Glossier's Balm Dotcom—underwent a reformulation and repackaging that did not sit well with its faithful consumer base. Despite its status as a darling of the beauty industry, this episode serves as a compelling lesson in the pitfalls of rebranding.

Balm Dotcom's Original Success

Balm Dotcom had carved out a unique position within the lip care market. Known for its blend of natural ingredients, simple yet trendy packaging, and versatility, it had a strong following. The original formula was celebrated for its ability to nourish lips while also being employed for other skincare needs.

The Rebranding

Earlier this year, Glossier made the decision to reformulate and repackage Balm Dotcom. The new version, according to Business Insider, not only changed its ingredient list but also underwent a noticeable change in packaging. While the move was likely intended to improve the product and its environmental footprint, the shift alienated its existing user base. Refinery29 reported that customers were dismayed at the alteration of a product they had come to love.

The Fallout

The rebranding did not sit well with Glossier’s dedicated community. Many users took to social media to voice their disapproval. Hypebae captured the sentiments well, showing how conversations around the product shifted from commendation to skepticism. A mix of nostalgia for the original and a genuine preference for its characteristics led to calls for its return.

Key Takeaways: The Complexity of Rebranding

Never Underestimate Customer Attachment

Customers can become deeply attached to a product's original formula and packaging. Changing these elements risks causing feelings of betrayal and loss, as was evident from the backlash Glossier faced.

Transparency is Key

Glossier could have mitigated some of the negative reactions through clearer communication about the changes and their reasons. It's crucial to prepare the customer base for such shifts, ideally seeking their input where possible.

Test Before Launch

It's critical to test rebranded products thoroughly, taking into account not just the product’s effectiveness but also how it will be received by long-time customers.

Financial Ramifications

Beyond customer sentiment, failed rebranding can also significantly impact sales and brand reputation in the long term.

Glossier's Balm Dotcom rebranding serves as a cautionary tale for brands contemplating changes to a cornerstone product. The power of consumer sentiment should not be underestimated. In a world where social media amplifies every decision, the move to rebrand a beloved product must be executed with extreme care and a deep understanding of what the product represents to its user base.


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