Asian influence: Korean beauty is the next big thing stocking drug stores’ shelves

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Asian influence: Korean beauty is the next big thing stocking drug stores’ shelves

04/14/2017
Drug chains are editing existing product assortments to clear more space for up-and-coming brands that court back shoppers who may have migrated to specialty stores. Several categories are heating things up in the beauty aisles, especially Korean beauty. Kline research reveals the category is growing at a 30% annual clip, and chains are seeking the right items to introduce more shoppers to the innovative and effective Korean entries.

CVS Is about to have more stores than any other retailer in the world with K-beauty stocked on its shelves. The journey started when its VP merchandising manager of beauty, Alex Perez-Tenessa, took a wrong turn. Always scouting the world for beauty Innovation, Perez-Tenessa found himself off track and ended up in Manhattan’s Koreatown. “It’s difficult to get lost in New York, it is a grid city,” Perez-Tenessa joked. “But I walked into a beauty store and saw products that were different than anything I’d seen from other manufacturers.” The Korean-produced items, he said, were unique because they were fun, sophisticated and high quality.

Recently, CVS linked up with one of the leading experts on K-beauty, Alicia Yoon. Yoon founded Peach & Lily, which started as a website to purchase Korean beauty success stories, but has blossomed into a resource to curate selections for retailers. She’s handpicked about 100 that will be merchandised in 2,100 CVS doors on either a new Trend Wall or in a specially created fixture.

Perez-Tenessa noted that BB creams whet appetites for the imported beauty hits, but he feels the acceptance of sheet masks signaled the K-boom hit critical mass.

The selection at CVS includes a sister brand of Peach & Lily called Peach Slices. There also is Frudia, a waterless fruit-based collection; Elisha Coy with snail mucin; the pore-focused JJYoung by Caolion; and the unique Ariul EGG Collection, which introduces egg oil to America. Rounding out the 4-to-8 ft. sections are other items that haven’t been easy to purchase in the mass market. These include: The Saem natural products; Holika Holika items, such as the whimsically named Pig-Nose Clear Black Head Kit; and masks from Ariul.

CVS isn’t the only chain Yoon has helped move into the segment. She also identified 13 items now in select Target doors. Yoon had been consulting with Target, assisting the chain with sprinkling its mix with the right products. Based on that success, she curated a larger program now in 800 doors.

Dawn Block, SVP beauty and essentials at 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.”

The attraction to K-beauty goes hand in hand with consumers’ quest for natural choices. Brands once only found in natural product stores are crossing over to mass. Walgreens Boots Alliance, for example, is rolling out The Plant One campaign for its modernized botanics line. The collection also got a repackage and reformulation hitting Walgreens shelves. “Naturals is growing superfast,” said Lyle Tick, managing director at Boots Retail USA. With mounting competition, he said it was time to overhaul botanies.

The latest report published by Kline [in 2016] about the natural personal care market pegged it at $5.4 billion in wholesale dollars in the United States. That was up 9% versus the year before, but it is projected to grow by 40% over the next five years. Hair care is a big category for natural.

To be transparent, many consumers don’t necessarily want — nor can they always find — 100% natural. But what they seek are items with as few harmful ingredients as they can find. Retailers said they would merchandise natural products near general market rather than outdated strategies of plunking those items in natural-food sets.

While much action is in skin care, there’s no denying the sales boost from brows. CVS added Wunderbrow this year, while Rite Aid created an entire brow and lash department. According to IRI, eyebrow makeup sales for the 52-week period ended March 19, in multi-unit doors soared more than 30%. The major companies were quick to jump on the category with brisk sellers on shelves from L’Oréal, Maybelline and Cover Girl. Other volume builders include NYC, Milani and e.l.f.