Foreign beauty brands are feverishly seeking out Korean consumers as the country is fast growing into a test bed for the cosmetics industry.
Kim Do-kyun, CEO of online cosmetics shopping mall SkinRx, is one man who saw a golden opportunity in this trend.
“Cosmetic brands can be divided into three categories ― big global high-end beauty brands that occupy department stores, domestic brands distributed through brand street shops and newly imported cosmetic brands that don’t have retail channels here,” Kim told The Korea Herald. “I thought I could hit gold in the third category.”
SkinRx CEO Kim Do-kyun (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)
Based on the belief that there was a market for quality foreign brands that are unfamiliar to Korean consumers, he made contact with lesser-known overseas brands. Now, 10 years since it was established, SkinRx manages over 1,000 foreign cosmetics brands. Consumers can buy these brands directly at the website (www.skinrx.co.kr).
Kim maintains a close relationship with representatives of each brand to keep up with special promotional events and discounts offered exclusively to SkinRx clients.
“I believed there to be an emerging demographic for this type of niche market because South Korean women, despite being a part of the so-called ‘bbali bbali’ culture (of getting things done quickly), were spending more than 40 minutes a day on skin care and makeup, meaning they are always looking for new and better products,” he said.
Behind the fast growth of SkinRx is the chief executive’s experience at WizWid.com, a local online shopping mall focusing on imported retail brands.
Kim began his career as a merchandise director at WizWid.com, and introduced such beauty brands as Laura Mercier, Jurlique and Dr.Jart+ Korea. The three makeup brands now have a solid foothold in the industry, with Laura Mercier and Jurlique found in many of Korea’s major department stores.
“Korean consumers are very clever, picky and they always look for something uniquely new. Their active consumption shows that the beauty market here has endless growth potential for sure,” Kim said.
Encouraged by the online shop’s success, Kim recently opened a store in Cheongdam-dong, an expensive fashion district in Seoul, to cater to female customers sensitive to trends.
“We will be doing endless research and experiments on what Korean consumers want and cater to their needs at the right time,” Kim said.
By Suk Gee-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org