South Korea's Memebox focused on taking success global

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags East asia Asia South korea

South Korea's Memebox focused on taking success global
Memebox, is looking beyond South Korea's market, which accounts for 80% of its sales, to strengthen its' efforts in China and the US.

Launched in 2012, the brand that caters to consumers by monthly deliveries, originated in Seoul but now based in San Francisco, has plans to upend traditional makeup retail by selling cosmetics online at discount prices.

The company’s CEO, Ha Hyungseok told Forbes; "We want to build Memebox into a global brand​. Beauty in Korea is massive and we want to take it everywhere.”

Ha told the business magazine that there is a large opportunity to find price-conscious shoppers that want to find new products in the US.

We have customers in the U.S. that spend more than $10,000 in six months. People here are interested in K-beauty,” ​he told Forbes. 

With China, the CEO says it is "going to be the largest market" ​for Memebox as "​90% of the products there are fake and less than 20% of women there wear make-up now.”

Sampling brands challenged despite demand for service

Another beauty sampling brand, Glossybox is only starting to see profit again, following an expansion in Asia that nearly took the business under, the company has finally started to see a profit.

The sampling trend took off five years ago with the launch of US based firm Birchbox, which inspired the likes of Berlin-based Glossybox to get a piece of the action.

The concept involves a subscription service where customers sign up to receive samples of the latest skin care, perfume and other cosmetics products on a monthly basis for around $10-15.

Despite the trend being huge in Europe and the US, Glossybox found itself having to downsize a workforce of 350 to 130 in 2013, after expanding into more than 20 markets including Asia.

Demand in Asia for beauty boxes is there, but supply is not

In 2013, Cosmetics Design was reporting beauty boxes to be gaining momentum in Asia, particularly in the Southeast and Korea. However by 2014, analysts were questioning whether the market was over saturated with ‘all too easy to replicate’ subscription services. 

By the second half of the year, a number of these sampling companies in Southeast Asia had already shrunk from 51 to less than 20.

The problem is limited availability of beauty samples. The demand is there, but the supply is not. Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that the marketing budgets of cosmetics companies in Asia aren’t that great​,” Douglas Gan, CEO of Singapore-based beauty box business 'VanityTrove' told regional publication ‘Tech In Asia’.

Despite the news that this segment may be over before it really got a chance to take off, other brands like Little Black Beauty Box, Glamabox, BellaBox, Black Box Malaysia – Modbox, CosmoBox, The Lilac Box, Mivva Box are still working to make ends meet.

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