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July 16, 2024

[From the Scene] Amazon courts K-beauty sellers on robust sales

PUBLISHED : June 30, 2024 - 13:58

UPDATED : June 30, 2024 - 13:58

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Yuki Suita, head of consumer beauty business at Amazon Japan, delivers a speech on “K-beauty’s Success in Japan” at the Amazon K-Beauty Conference at a Seoul hotel on Thursday. (Yonhap)

US-based e-commerce giant Amazon is increasingly reaching out to Korean beauty product makers to join its sprawling online platform, where demand for “K-beauty” products is soaring globally.

Amazon Global Selling Korea, the Korean unit, held the Amazon K-Beauty Conference -- the first exclusively dedicated to Korean beauty products -- at a Seoul hotel on Thursday.

Co-hosted by Kolmar Korea, Korea's leading original design manufacturer for global beauty brands, the event attracted some 800 participants in person, or some 1,500 considering those joining via video links.

“This event, co-hosted by Kolmar and Amazon, is significant as the first collaboration between Amazon and Kolmar to actively promote the globalization of K-beauty,” Yoon Sang-hyun, vice president of Kolmar Korea Holdings, said in his opening remarks. “It goes beyond a simple business partnership, contributing to the innovation and value of K-beauty worldwide.”

Shin Han-nah, head of Amazon Global Selling Korea, emphasized the company's commitment to supporting local cosmetics companies in expanding their global presence through its Project K-Beauty Go Big.

"Having spoken with small and medium-sized cosmetics companies, we found that many are often unsure about which products would sell well in overseas markets,” Shin said. “Amazon will not only help them, but also respond actively to changes in the cosmetics market, contributing to the globalization of K-beauty.”

Jim Yang, director of Amazon Global Selling Asia, echoed the sentiment, “The Korean beauty industry is vertically integrated from research and development to product manufacturing. Joining Amazon will further facilitate this process by gaining more customer feedback.”

In recent years, Korean beauty products have shown strong performance in overseas markets. According to the Korea Customs Service, the export value of cosmetics from January to May this year reached $4.04 billion, a 21 percent increase from the same period last year. In 2023 alone, K-beauty exports amounted to over $8.48 billion, nearly seven times the figure from 2013.

This phenomenon was also evident on Amazon.

Last year, total sales of Korean beauty sellers increased by over 75 percent on the Amazon Global Store. Its US store, in particular, saw higher growth, led by the popularity of Korea-made moisturizers, serums and sunscreens.

An Amazon staff member instructs a visitor on selling strategy programs at the Amazon K-Beauty Conference at a Seoul hotel on Thursday. (Hwang Joo-young/The Korea Herald)

Officials from domestic cosmetics companies mostly showed positive reactions to cooperating with Amazon.

"Currently, we are operating a local marketing team in the US, but I find it attractive to either focus solely on joining Amazon or to continue with both the local marketing team and Amazon simultaneously," said an official who runs her own cosmetic business, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Another official who works at a company selling products on Amazon called for protective measures for smaller sellers against prevalent unfair business practices such as cheaper counterfeits and reselling.

"The biggest issue we've found is the prevalence of counterfeit products copying the identity of small brands. Large companies have multiple people from Amazon assisting them, but smaller companies feel somewhat neglected," said the official, who also wished not to be named.

"In addition, on Amazon resellers often buy cheaper domestic products and sell them at lower prices than the original company's outbound products. I believe Amazon needs to address this issue as well."

In the meantime, marketing through video content, primarily targeting social media, was highlighted as the most recommended way to boost sales on Amazon.

The conference also included guidelines on obtaining permits for product sales, cost strategies for overseas shipping and an introduction to the process of joining Amazon.

By Hwang Joo-young (flylikekite@heraldcorp.com)

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