In order to sell Korean beauty products, it’s imperative to understand the culture. “An industry is only going to be as competitive as your consumers are demanding,” declared Alicia Yoon, cofounder and chief executive officer of Peach and Lily, a Web site that exclusively sells beauty products from Korea and Japan.

This story first appeared in the March 20, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

During her speech at the WWD Digital Beauty Forum, Yoon explained her company’s strategy to curate Korean and Japanese beauty products, while distributing these brands to retailers like Urban Outfitters and Space NK. She noted that this year, Peach and Lily will launch its brands at Sephora, Target and QVC. 

“We look at the formulations and ingredients and we interview the brands and the R&D teams to make sure these products are very high quality when we bring them stateside,” noted Yoon. “The other criteria that we have, is any product that we curate needs to be visible in Korea’s digital ecosystem and they have to have at least three psychographics conducting intense conversations around these products.”

No wonder only 5 percent of brands make it on the site.

But mostly Yoon concentrated on the hyper competitive beauty market in Asia and the different brand’s digital marketing strategies.

“In Korea, especially the smaller companies, they tend to develop a product with a rich enough story to target different psychographics,” said Yoon, who gave the example of Mizon All-in-One Snail Repair Cream, which is Peach and Lily’s bestseller, and how it went from an unknown product to a hero stockkeeping unit in 18 months.

“In the case of the snail cream, it’s targeted at mostly teenagers and tweens,” said Yoon. “But we also saw women in there 30s and 40s who are heavy duty information seekers start to talk about it. It was two very different communities talking about this on very different platforms across different social media channels.”
Because of this energetic digital ecosystem companies are in a constant feedback loop and dialogue with consumers.

“[Korean brands] have their pulse on the market in a nuanced way,” added Yoon. “They’re picking up on all these real time conversations and it’s happening really quickly.”

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