Mizon is one of the brands starring in Target's K-beauty assortment curated by Alicia Yoon


Target is attempting to make its mark in the booming Korean-beauty business by introducing 13 cosmetics items handpicked by Alicia Yoon, the founder of Peach & Lily and one of the major architects of the K-beauty explosion in the U.S.

Among numerous innovations, Peach & Lily recently introduced rubber masks and snail repair creams in the U.S. Target consulted with Yoon to identify K-beauty brands, such as Mizon and Caolion, to test in its mix over the past year. They’ve been so successful that Target green-lighted the roll out of those brands to 800 more doors and Yoon was summoned to curate a bigger presentation.

Yoon’s collection for Target is set to bow on target.com and  in about 100 select doors on Jan. 15. It includes 13 items Yoon singled out ranging from masks to highlighters. Depending on consumer response, Target may consider expanding to more doors throughout the year.

Dawn Block, senior vice president of beauty and essentials for Target, said, “Peach & Lily is known as the authority on Korean skin care. Bringing this curated assortment to Target provides us with a chance to test new offerings and expand on our positioning as a go-to, credible source for beauty must-haves while giving our guests added convenience and just one more reason to choose Target.”

Yoon told WWD that she took great care to ensure her lineup was targeted to all skin types and various levels of engagement. “There are products for newbies and those super into beauty and might already be using 12 steps in their routine,” said Yoon, a licensed aesthetician. “We want to delight as shoppers discover newness that they might not have ever heard about.”

A few examples: 24/7 Cosmetic Highlighter White, which “embodies some of the trends in [South] Korea,” specifically the blurring of the lines between makeup and skin care, and the Lagom skin-care line, created by South Korean makeup artist Kowonhye along with a team of scientists and doctors. Yoon said the Lagom products help bring moisture into skin cells to help achieve the fresh-faced dewy skin look now popularized in South Korea.

The assortment is rounded out by brands including AprilSkin, Caolion and Mizon. Prices range from $7 for the AprilSkin Deep Cleaning Facial Cleanser to $38 for the Mizon Snail Repair Cream. Prices are in line with Peach & Lily’s web site.

This is Target’s latest move as part of an effort initiated three years ago to elevate its skin-care department, which includes logos such as No7, Vichy, Nuxe, Jeffrey James and Laneige. Industry sources said with the launch, Target is the first mass merchant to have a full-scale K-beauty offer. 

“We continue to hear from guests that they enjoy shopping our assortment of premium skin care brands, and we love helping them discover new products and explore the latest beauty trends,” Block said.

Yoon’s image will appear on signage along with educational copy explaining the products and explaining Peach & Lily’s expertise in K-beauty. While Target has beauty concierges on hand in many doors, Yoon said consumer use of smartphones opens up opportunities for in-store research with or without assistance. There is also educational information on the Peach & Lily web site.

Wendy Liebmann, founder and chief executive officer of WSL Strategic Retail, agreed that more educated consumers, with the tools to research in stores, bode well for K-beauty in Target. “Shoppers are so well versed on trends these days and have so much access to information. The Target customer tends to be more sophisticated than many other mass shoppers.”

The fact shoppers are more informed across the board favors Peach & Lily’s omnichannel approach. Her items are sold online, on QVC, at Sephora, in special departments at two Macy’s and Target. Yoon also recently launched her own line of sheet masks. “Being omnichannel is important because every consumer is digital,” Yoon said. “But people still like to touch and pick up a product even if they can’t test it. Just because something is sold in a mass store without a beauty agent doesn’t mean it is less quality.”

Liebmann agreed customers don’t have an issue with where products are sold, citing the success of other brands, such as Boots’ items in the U.K. that exist in premium and mass channels. The only barrier could be if prices stretch beyond the mass consumers’ pocketbooks.

Yoon is a believer in if you build it, shoppers will come. “When a retailer evolves their beauty theme and assortment, shoppers evolve, too. Ten years ago, you might think of Target as a self-service environment with basic products. Now today it is a very sophisticated shopper.”

Yoon, reached while in South Korea while hunting for trends, said beauty innovations are coming faster to U.S. shores. Next on her radar? “I’m noticing more home spa care systems and products to bring the skin care clinics into the home.”

She added there’s no let up in demand for Asian influences, rather Americans are getting more discerning in their quest for K-beauty. “There are more than 9,000 beauty brands in [South] Korea from low-quality copycats to high quality. Consumers are no longer lumping them together as K-beauty. They are looking for nuances and that shows the category is developing.”

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