Online marketplace for Korean beauty brands and American stores

Landing International is launching an online marketplace to connect American retailers with emerging beauty brands.

Riding a wave of interest in Korean beauty, the Los Angeles-based consultancy is working with Korean e-commerce player SkinRX on the new marketplace to spotlight Korean brands looking to spread to the U.S. It will kick off Wednesday with around 20 such brands, including Cosrx, Thank You Farmer, Vant 36.5, Acwell, MadeCera and Sevendrops.

“I have spoken with buyers at beauty chains and fashion retailers. They all want to bring cool Korean products into their stores, but they are wondering, ‘Where do we start? How do we reach them?’” said Sarah Chung, chief executive officer of Landing International. “Both sides very much want to meet each other. We don’t really need to convince either party of the need for this marketplace.”

By the end of the year, Chung expects the marketplace to feature as many as 200 brands. The initial focus is on Korean brands and skin care, a category in which they are strong, but the intention is to expand beyond Korea to brands throughout Asia, North America and Europe, and across color cosmetics, fragrance, devices, sun protection, grooming, bath and body, and hair and nail care.

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“Brands I want to carry are not the AmorePacifics of the world. What is really interesting is discovering all these niche brands that are more about technology and ingredients than marketing,” said Chung. “They really want to be able to reach the American consumer. By our estimates, there are over 80,000 stores that sell beauty products in the United States, but these brands may only have access to Sephora. We are trying to open up the channel between buyers [at these stores], and first Korean brands and then brands from other countries.”

Landing International vets brands and retailers that participate in its marketplace. Participation is by invitation only, and Landing International will strive to match brands with retailers that serve similar customer bases. “There is a trust issue on both sides. If a brand contacts a retailer, they have no idea if it is a legitimate business. What we do is verify reputations,” said Chung, adding, “We want to be very selective, and make sure the first brands that we bring on have the most potential and can do well.”

The marketplace is free for retailers and brands. Landing International receives a percentage of the sales of products sold to retailers using its platform. “It will work very much like Airbnb,” said Chung. “The money isn’t released until the buyer gets the goods. Both sides have the security of knowing that they are going to get what they want.”

Chung described the level of interest in the marketplace as “tremendous.” “Korean brands can make a lot of money in China, but the U.S. is the Holy Grail,” she said. They are hitting their heads against the wall [attempting to enter the American market]. AmorePacific is the largest beauty company in Korea, and it hasn’t been easy for them even though they have deep pockets. It’s even harder for a brand in the middle tier to crack the U.S. market.”