[bnt Interview] International Marketing Manager Baek Doo Sung Talks About 'Korean Beauty'
[by Im Hye Jin / translated by Nawael Khelil & Sora Ghim] Has come the time when the Beauty Republic arises.
As guys and girls, youths and adults starting to develop a great interest in cosmetics, it became very ordinary to start wearing make-up during your 10s. Customers who consider beauty not only as a make-up routine but as an investment into their skin have increased a lot.
Beauty lovers became beauty critics and debate online – as well as in real life – about the quality of this product or the honesty of that one. The development of Internet, mobile phones and SNS not only instigated this sudden resurgence of interest but also is of a benefit to it. The time when brands were promoting their products only through simple television and Internet advertisements is over.
Consumers diversified and they keep raising their standard. Now, even random people own various cosmetics, analyze then and share their reviews. We say that they’re slowly developing ‘the eye for the right product’.
There is a global cosmetics brand that takes advantage of this situation and is seizing the opportunity that our generation is offering. It is Mizon, a brand that offers tons of cosmetics from the most basic skin cares to the most elaborated shades and that was elected 2nd ‘Most Global Brand’ on September, 2014. The brand, which is exporting its products to 25 countries including France, is both nominally and virtually a representative of the beauty industry.
In fact, a lot of companies are starting to look at the foreign beauty market and the Korean one is saturated already. However, most of them fail at extending their market spectrum abroad. So what’s the secret of Mizon, which is more popular overseas than in Korea?
We asked Baek Doo Sung, Mizon’s International Marketing Manager, about the brand’s overseas expansion.
The birth of Mizon
Mizon was created by researchers who worked for famous brands. As they were carrying out their research concerning luxury cosmetic lines, they started to doubt about the quality of these products. They created Mizon with the intention of winning over the beauty market with affordably fair products.
“The quality and the price do not always have to interrelate. Basic customers think that cosmetics are of high-end when they’re made of quality ingredients. However a product’s price is fixed during the process of distribution. There is no big difference between the ingredients used for luxury and ordinary cosmetics. It’s about the proportions. Mizon could offer a relatively reasonable price range for its product because it minimized the process of distribution.”
Mizon started with the promise of making honest, and not high-end, products. The brand came into the spotlight after it created the so loved ‘CC Cream’ that a lot of brands went after. It’s now a very common product but Mizon was the first laboratory to release it.
“In 2008, BB Cream (which was created in Korea) was internationally acclaimed. It was our move, and the product’s popularity in Taiwan was amazing. Seeing that, a lot of companies started to follow us. We realized that we had to create something new and this is how the COLOR CHANGING CREAM, a product that combines properties from a base, a BB Cream and a sunscreen, was created.”
A world-wide spotlight
The first decade of the 2000s witnessed the development of new technologies like Internet, and Mizon was there to take advantage of these changes. By thinking ahead Internet’s expansion, Mizon has become one of the leading beauty online stores, establishing its reputation overseas.
“Mizon is exporting its cosmetics to 30 countries. There are a lot of people wondering how we managed to reach so many countries. But what we focused one was not the countries we would reach but the partners we would work with. Treat a partner like a simple business associate, simply meet the buyers and your contract will never last long. I think that mutual exchanges as well as intimacy are important when it comes to business relationships. There comes the market study. After looking into the climate, cultural habits and the popularity of the Korean Wave in the target country, we start to elaborate marketing plans for each product. For example, in South-Eastern Asia, we develop our offline market as Internet is not as present as in the West.”
Mizon may be exporting to France, the birthplace of the cosmetic industry, it is aiming for a new market: the Middle East. It wants to break the idea that succeeding in a country that is craving for luxury is impossible. As the brand is already selling to Kuwait, you would think that it’s a piece of cake for its to extend its market to the Middle East, but remember that even entering China was not so easy. The market is so wide and the regulation of import particularly strict, making it difficult for any country to hastily butt in.
“The Chinese market was very demanding. Starting from 2011, we prepared for the Chinese import clearance’s sanitary permit, getting 17 different permits within a year. From then, we began our activities in China. Actually, Mizon was known in China before this through the largest e-commerce website. Therefore, we received a lot of offers from Chinese companies but we wanted to find our own way to so we started by settling an agreement with a Chinese company while simultaneously researching the product.”
“After winning over China, we started exporting our products but it was not a success right away. However, today China is our best client. Compared to other brands, Mizon has its export strategy that brought us here.”
“Instead of looking China as one country, the existing cosmetic brands separated it into over 20 properties, understanding and creating a partnership. This is because China has such a huge population. Using China’s use of smartphones and the internet, Mizon put its focus on that, realizing there is no need to send products to 20 different firms in one big market. Instead, we gave exclusive rights to only one buyer. By giving the rights to only one buyer, it reduces the problem of price fluctuations while earning the trust of consumers. Through this method we earned the greatest revenue during the first half of 2014. Presently, we are preparing for obtain 40 more sanitary permits.”
Unlike other countries, China has a huge factory unit market. As big as this field is, there are a more variety of consumers. Bntnews was curious as to what the difference between Korean consumers and Chinese consumers is.
“China is experiencing the second Korean wave. Starting from Korean dramas to shows, beauty, and fashion, everything is of their interest. That is why the standard of Chinese consumers has raised. It’s not that they are only looking for high-quality brands but they are smart customers. Koreans tend to buy products as long as they are name brand without recognition of its efficiency whereas Chinese clients purchase based on the product quality. In addition, products that are related to the Korean wave are popular among the Chinese.
Expectations of the Future of Beauty As An Beauty Expert
Mizon is skyrocketing in China, Russia, and even the country of origin of beauty, France. Baek Doo Sung is making his name as a marketer among global cosmetics. However, before a marketer, Baek Doo Sung loves beauty and is an expert in the field.
“The age of wearing makeup keeps on getting lower. In addition, the consumers now know their various skin types, increasing the range of buyers and segmenting products. On top of that, in 2012, Korea changed from being an importer to an exporter. The Korean beauty field believes that makeup is the final step that completes a look, raising expectations for the future of Korean beauty.
Baek Doo Sung has plans to advance Korean beauty even more. However, there are so many cosmetics companies in Korea already and new ones are forming every day.
“As you know, there is a huge variety of cosmetics brand in Korea right now. I think that if we compete with them on their level, the status of Korean beauty will skyrocket. However, starting companies that are made because of the boom in the field will be immediately ignored by the public. Consumers are getting pickier and will not buy products that aren’t effective. The way to succeed is to think of new products and designs that will be enough to go overseas. Also, I think Korean makeup will not lose its spot in the global beauty world.” (photos by bntnews DB)
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Write: 2014-09-22 13:01:15 / Update: 2014-10-23 11:25:00
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