K-Beauty lovers need look no further than Aritaum, the new brick and mortar rollout by Korean beauty powerhouse AmorePacific, which offers five of its brands in slick, modern stores, complete with testers and dedicated beauty advisers.
Building Aritaums and expanding distribution of AmorePacific’s 30 brands in North America is a focus for growth for the $5 billion global beauty firm, which is based in Seoul with US headquarters in Manhattan. AmorePacific, the 12th largest beauty company, was ranked by Forbes magazine as the 21stmost innovative company in the world. LG is also on the list and as of 2016, AmorePacific is up from number 28 to number 21 on the list. It boasts 500 scientists within its Research & Development unit, as well as ownership of the green tea gardens in Jeju Island, the largest producer of green tea in the world.
“This year’s focus is testing out messaging to the Western consumers,” said Brad Horowitz, AmorePacific USA’s President.
There are about 1,500 Aritaums in Asia; 20 domestically, including an Aritaum counter in Bloomingdale’s Honolulu, and a 1,500square foot store in Vancouver.
“In a couple of years it will be a $1 million-a-year store,” said Brad of the Vancouver store. And, in November, a Brooklyn outlet is slated to open. There are plans to expand to 100 Aritaum stores domestically over the next three years.
A recent trip to the new Flushing, Queens store with Brad, which opened this summer, showcased what Aritaum is all about: a 500-square foot store located on the first floor of a multi-level strip mall showcasing several AmorePacific champion brands—those that are on track to reach $1 billion in sales—as well as brands company executives feel are ripe for the American marketplace.
“This assortment is working for us. We play around with the size of the store depending on the location,” Brad said. Sulwhasoo, Korea’s number-one best-selling cosmetic brand, is celebrating its 50th year of ginseng research this year. The brand generates more than $1 billion annually, and tells of its ginseng and Asian herbal medicine positioning within Aritaum.
Sulwhasoo is one of the company’s most premium priced brands, with its Time Treasure anti-aging and moisturizing items selling for as much as $400. But it also offers a lower priced collection, Essentials, where items retail for about $100. In the U.S., Sulwhasoo is engaging with 30-plus year old consumers, and is also sold in select Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom doors. While distribution is narrow, it’s effective: Sulwhasoo’s ecommerce sales on NeimanMarcus.com are approximately $2 million.
Another AmorePacific-owned brand, which is already quite well known in the United States, is Laneige, which has been selling its skin care items in Target since 2014. The $800 million global brand attributes 30 percent of sales to color cosmetics and is considered a champion brand by AmorePacific. Despite a more accessible price point, 20-year old Laneige has a very prestige feel, using heavy glass in its packaging and rich formulations. Brad explained that since AmorePacific is a vertical company, it also owns the company that makes all of its packaging, including Pacific Glass in Korea. He added that all products sold in the U.S. are imported into California to a warehouse and distributed from there.
“It’s the leading premium brand sold in Target. It feels and looks like a department store brand,” Brad said.
Also at the store is Iope, the AmorePacific brand that first launched the cushion technology in 2008, the game-changing foundation application system that came to the US in 2013 under the AmorePacific brand in the form of its Color Control Cushion Compact SPF 50+. Iope is the company’s cosmeceutical line that combines plant derived ingredients with biotechnology. Items contain a formula that replicates an enzyme that depletes as we age, as well as retinol. Iope is so popular that one in every 2.2 women in Korea owns an Iope cushion foundation compact. For now, Iope will be exclusive to Aritaum stores in the U.S., but the notion of bringing it to the airwaves hasn’t been discounted.
The final two brands in Aritaum are Hanyul, the most Korean of all the brands, and Mamonde, which has a strong flower story. Hanyul uses indigenous Korean ingredients in formulas, such as red rice and brown pine needles, while Mamonde is the most affordable line in the store with price points ranging from $15 to $35.
While it begs the question why the AmorePacific flagship brand isn’t sold in Aritaum—the answer is that it already has a nice footprint in the US, including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Cosbar and Sephora.
Brad said another retail concept will hit the US in 2017: Innisfree, another AmorePacific champion brand that’s looking to open a stand-alone store here, along with a new e-commerce site.
“It is the fastest growing brand in the company, targeting millennials. We know the potential of the brand because we see orders from the U.S. going to our global website in Korea.”