Mobile and digital can be a good place to start. “There are a number of e-commerce sites dedicated to Korean cosmetics, and as there is little investment from a brand perspective it is a cost effective way to learn about the US consumers taste and trends,” says Sean K. Lim, founder of the Korean color cosmetics brand Touch In Sol, which attributes nearly 40% of its sales globally to e-commerce.
Cosmetics companies from Korea bring more than just makeup and personal care products to the States; they are importing digital marketing strategy too. “In Korea the use of e-commerce and mobile technology is pervasive, and brands use all types of programs to connect with and engage the consumer,” says Lim.
“Since there isn’t much retail presence for Korean brands, US consumers rely on word-of-mouth reviews, especially through beauty influencers on YouTube and blogs.” Derek and Yu Ming O'Neil, makers of SparkleCollagen Peptide Supplement (a product first launched via e-commerce).
Points of sale
US consumers actively look online for Korean beauty brands. Because Korean items aren’t necessarily on store shelves, “ interested customers need to purchase them through online shopping, buying from either Korea based online stores that ship internationally or US-based online stores that curate and sell a variety of the bestselling Korean cosmetic and beauty brands,” explains the O’Neils.
Looking ahead Lim suspects this will shift, that more and more Korean beauty brands will retail in shops like Sephora, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21.
Many Korean brands eager to get a foot in the door of the US market have opted to work with the beauty retail chain Sephora.
The skincare company belif did just that, launching initially on Sephora.com “to leverage VIP customers' reviews and online engagement with customers first,” explain Sarah Lee and Christine Chang of Glow Recipe.
“This is a strategy to familiarize customers with a new brand from Korea. As belif is an established brand in Korea, many global shoppers…from Korea have already heard of or experienced belif's products, and we are seeing a rush of positive reviews about their experience,” they told Cosmetics Design.
Financial support helps
The beauty e-commerce platform MEMEBOX is expanding in the US as well as in Asian countries, namely China and Korea. A strong presence and consumer following in Korea, particularly, will lend an air of credibility to the company’s product portfolio. This will boost the site’s appeal among US consumers, and the expansion is all the more possible with substantial financial backing.
The platform has raised $29.35m in funding to date and intends to grow its mobile and online offerings with the assets, according to a recent press announcement.
"The powerful combination of its e-commerce and mobile strategies with its own private-label cosmetics offering creates a very advantageous position for MEMEBOX to become a major international e-commerce player," said Eric Kim, managing partner at Goodwater Capital, one of over 10 investor groups that have backed the company.