Are there enough distributors for K-beauty in the U.S.?
Dino Ha, chief executive officer of Memebox, seems to think so. Two years ago when the business started selling Korean beauty products on its web site there was a distinct need, he said — U.S. consumers wanted the brands, and Soutb Korean companies needed Memebox to help get those products to American customers.
“What we see today is more K-beauty players emerged in the U.S., so we think that distribution problem is going to be solved,” Ha said.
So as of Monday, Memebox has switched its business model in the U.S. to be an informational platform instead of an e-commerce play, he said. “What we learned during years of being in the U.S. market selling [South] Korean beauty products was a lot of customers need education on K-beauty regimens and a lot of information behind the products.”
With its new plan, Memebox will be providing that information through educational content, including videos, aiming to capture the K-beauty customer who is searching for information before he or she purchases from another distributor. Memebox will also add product reviews from South Korean consumers in order to give U.S. shoppers a broader sense of product performance.
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The shift comes several months after the business closed a $60 million round of venture capital funding. In total, the business has raised $160 million. With that latest round, closed in December, Memebox added Laura Mercier founder Janet Gurwitch as an adviser.
Through that point, China had been a big focus for the company, but now the company is prioritizing distributing its private-label brands in the U.S., Ha said. Recently, China has been tougher on imports of Korean beauty products. Ha said the U.S. market could be 10 percent of Memebox’s overall revenues by the end of the year.
Memebox’s private-label offerings are currently in about 1,500 doors, Ha said, and he expects them to be in 4,000 U.S. doors by the end of the year. Last year, Membox posted more than $100 million in revenues, according to industry sources and is expected to grow again for 2017.