KOCOSTAR, a specialized brand for mask packs sold in more than 82 countries worldwide
- President AN. Jong-Jin of KOCOSTAR, a brand specializing in mask packs
- Paid attention to unit price competitive mask pack from the beginning
- Entered top European department stores that are hard for even large companies to enter.
[Startup Person Search_1] In Korea, the beauty industry is a serious red ocean. According to the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA), an average of 190 companies register as a cosmetics business every month. It is also difficult to hold out for a year after starting a business. Among these companies, there is a local cosmetics brand more famous overseas than in the domestic market, making headlines. It is the First Market co. ltd.’s own brand, 'KOCOSTAR'. We met Ahn Jong-jin, president of "First Market, launched at KOCOSTAR in 2013. The company has since grown into a global brand that exports to 82 countries around the world. This occasion was the first time we’d met in six years.
◎ Targeted overseas with a specialized pack brand that was not available at the time
KOCOSTAR has been the main target of overseas markets since the foundation of its business. It had already been a big hit in Japan by introducing a mask pack consisting of snail ingredients. He was also named seventh among 20 hit forecast products by Nikkei Trendy, an influential trend magazine in Japan. He decided to compete in overseas markets rather than in the domestic market where competition has intensified.
One more thing that received special attention was the product line. At that time, cosmetics companies focused on mask packs to match the old color. By coming up with a professional mask pack brand that had never been seen before, he decided on a concept of a brand with a mask pack which could increase care from head to toe. After the release of the product, he went to every overseas beauty fair to explore the market.
The first product to be put on the beauty fair was the nail pack. It is a mask pack that takes care of your fingernails like thimble used for sewing. The nail pack received great acclaim from foreign buyers and visitors at the Bologna COSMOPROF in Italy, one of the world's top three beauty fairs. In other words, novel ideas and product power brought about success in foreign countries. Starting with the nail pack, the hair and chest pack were released shortly thereafter.
◎ Famous influencers personally buy their own and leave a comment.
The company does not do any marketing other than participating in overseas beauty fairs. However, there have been numerous calls from the world's most famous influencers about collaboration online and more. In other words, the product promotes itself. In particular, social media played the role of a bridge. Famous social media celebrities and beauty YouTube creators posted their own reviews.
When Huda Beauty, a world-renowned beauty with 39.27 million followers, posted a message saying, "I want to buy and use the pack myself and recommend it to my followers," more than 100 replies were sent from around the world. It has become an advertisement abroad with just its products and no sponsorship, which is a very common marketing tool, with 996,000 beauty creators posting videos.
◎ What kind of products could it be?
There are about 90 kinds of KOCOSTAR products, and they have released and sold a considerable number of pack products. Among them, there are two major products. The Rose Lip Mask and the Waffle Mask Pack that was recently released.
The Rose Lip Mask won the Package Innovation Awards at the COSMOPROF in Las Vegas in 2018. It has also received attention in Korea for winning the Good Design Award. A hydrogel type, it is a lip-only mask that moisturizes the lips and surrounding skin with Provence rosewater. Especially, because the package is pretty, you can easily find photos covering the lips with products on social media.
KOCOSTAR's pack started with nails, hair, chest and forearm packs, rather than faces, and has only recently been made into facial packs. The Waffle Mask Pack, the latest new product to be released, is a face pack. This pack reduces the frustration of existing mask packs by being perforated in the shape of a waffle. Instead, it is made of 100% pure cotton sheet that is certified as OEKO-TEX, the world's top textile-related certification. Just two months after its launch, 1 million copies have already been sold.
◎ Entered top European department stores that are hard for even large companies to enter.
As a result of its overseas focus, KOCOSTAR is located in famous department stores and retail shops around the world that are not easy for even large companies to enter. It is located in Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Ulta Beauty, Urban Outfitters, and Anthropology. From luxury department stores in Europe to most of the famous retail shops in the U.S. Neiman Marcus, the top U.S. department store, is also providing staff training with KOCOSTAR products.
In addition, it is being sold at Sephora European stores under Louis Vuitton Group, Douglas, Europe's top editing shop, and Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong. It has already made inroads into France's top department store, Gallery Lafayette, Spain/Portugal's largest department store group El Corte Inglés, Italy's Larina Cente, which was also named the world's best department store in 2016, and the Heineman Duty Free and Dupree Duty Free at major European airports since three years ago.
KOCOSTAR currently exports to 82 countries around the world, including the United States, Dubai, Canada, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Singapore, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Spain, and Italy. In October, it is planned that KOCOSTAR will participate in an exhibition in Istanbul, Turkey, and also target the continent, which it has not yet entered.
◎ More than 90% of its sales come from overseas distribution
First Market's KOCOSTAR has around 90 percent of its sales from overseas distribution. Compared to three years ago, its sales grew by 2.5 times the sum of last year and it is estimating that it will grow by 200% again by the second half of this year. This is also a positive response from South Korean industries as hair and foot removal packs are popular and mask packs are also receiving positive responses In Korea. It is currently operating in Aritaum, A-Land, Lotte Young Plaza (LACO), Lotte Jamsil (ON AND THE BEAUTY) and Shilla Duty-Free (Online). In the second half, the company said it is planning to expand its distribution in South Korea with the release of Waffle Mask Pack products.
The era of "pack" from head to toe has come. In the case of a pack, it is not just a concept of moisturization for the face, but it is now managing it from head to toe. However, only few companies specialize in manufacturing only packs. KOCOSTAR is currently developing and producing the largest number of mask pack products among South Korean companies by mask pack alone and is being sold in the largest number of countries.
The bold challenge is to continue. KOCOSTAR is presenting new possibilities as a small business brand. Since launching the brand, the company has participated in more than 20 beauty exhibitions at home and abroad every year over the past six years, promoting the excellence of Korean products in the EU and the U.S., which have not been easily penetrated by large companies due to their ideas and product capabilities. The KOCOSTAR, created by First Market CEO and CEO Ahn Jong-jin after 20 years of relationship, said in a somber manner, "The goal is for 100 countries."
EDITOR – Job Company Kim Seung-hee
Photo – Job Company Lee Hyun-jae