Alicia Yoon is the founder of Peach & Lily, the premiere destination for Korean and Japanese beauty. Peach & Lily retails a highly-curated assortment of products from Korea and Japan direct-to-consumer via their website, and also distributes these products to third-party retailers including Barney’s New York, Sephora, Ulta Beauty, QVC, Target, CVS and more. Peach & Lily also created the Peach & Lily namesake brand, sold online and in Ulta Beauty stores nationwide, and the Peach Slices brand, sold online and in thousands of CVS and Target stores. Curating and sourcing innovations – now, a portfolio of 1,000-plus innovative products – and launching and marketing these products in a high-impact way, is at the heart of what Peach & Lily does. Here, Alicia shares three key pillars Peach & Lily keeps in mind while navigating beauty innovations.

Innovation for innovation’s sake is a bad idea: “Beauty innovations are introduced at a dizzying rate in Asia. I go to Korea every month or two and I know the labs, beauty brands, beauty stores, and experts in the beauty industry very well. Even then, it can be overwhelming. It’s very tempting to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over an innovation that is new, different, fun, and eye-catching, and to want to bring that back for our customers in the form of an exciting new curation. Resist that urge! Curating innovations can feel a little bit like betting: which one will take off, which one will fall flat? Don’t move forward with an innovation – however appealing at first – until you can articulate specifically why this innovation will have meaning in your market.”

Cultivate deep knowledge of your consumer and the innovative product: “Innovations are only as exciting as the benefits they deliver to your consumer. Getting to know our consumers beyond basic demographics and psychographics was key to us. We wanted to gauge specifically how they felt frustrated with their beauty routines and how adventurous they were to try new things. With every innovation we consider, we also spend a lot of time doing first-hand research to know exactly how the innovation improves upon an already existing solution and who in the domestic market loves the innovation and why they do. Marrying these analyses will allow you to determine whether there is significant overlap between the true needs of your customers and the actual benefits of a given innovation.”

Test small and analyze deep: “We have a proprietary set of early indicators that we track in order to determine whether we should deepen or minimize our investment into a specific innovation. The initial years of the business were dedicated to becoming smarter every month about analyzing innovations and launching them. Over those years, these critical early indicators provide a solid foundation for decision-making around innovations. Figuring out what innovation to launch – and how to launch it – doesn’t have to feel like a guessing game. It can be a highly educated decision based on a disciplined approach – but it will take a good amount of time to identify patterns and early milestones, unique to your consumer base and business, which you can use to predict meaningful traction down the road. There is likely a robust process in place for new product development when it’s about incremental upgrades to a formula, or a new product in a lineup that has an established ingredient or brand story. For something completely greenfield that introduces a distinctly new innovation, it’s a great idea to have an analytical framework that allows for deep insights. Getting that framework right specifically for these greenfield innovations can make the difference between success or lackluster traction.”