#19 Global SMB Leader in K-Beauty’s Successful Strategy to Expand in the North American Market

Global Delivery Manufacturing

As consumer purchases in North America declined due to the pandemic, the strategy of beauty companies that have been targeting the anti-aging market started to see red signals. However, some companies have succeeded by taking advantage of the unique situation the pandemic created.

Among our clients, Dermafirm, which pioneered the overseas market with high-quality skin products, is one of those companies that has turned the pandemic crisis into an opportunity. Three months after beginning its US market entry strategy, it successfully entered the North American market by securing the headline of ‘Anti-Aging Innovation 2020’ and receiving hot responses from overseas beauty influencers as well as local buyers.

Dermafirm is a Korean cosmeceutical company that is well known overseas, with its performance recognized in the field of dermatology, as it is used in hospitals, dermatology clinics, and plastic surgery practices, exporting $10 million worth of product in 2018 and $30.5 million last year.

K-Beauty grew as a leader in innovation in the export structure of Korea along with the spread of the Hallyu Wave, but the proportion of exports to the US was low due to limitations such as low brand recognition. The question we most often encountered during the lead-in process of the North American campaign at the beginning of the account with Dermafirm was, “Will Korean SMB brands work in the US?” The suspicion that “it’s something that even large companies can’t do” always followed.

In a difficult situation where many beauty companies have closed or downsized their business due to COVID-19, what is the reason that a small-medium sized Korean business was able to lead the pioneering of the North American market to success with the raving evaluation of local influencers?

It is thanks to the strategic approach that 20% of people influence 80% of buyers. Leader-leading marketing is a highly effective method for any industry. Over 20 years ago, following their initial North American market entry, I was contributing to the success of developing a brand by focusing on analyst relations that understood and appealed to the technology aspect in the process of leading the business-to-business e-commerce (B2B) global business expansion of small Korean companies. This strategy has continued to be effective in various industries.

Dermafirm started with an effort to secure product recognition from the thought leaders who impact related markets such as celebrity, beauty, or science influencers for branding success.

Dermafirm paid attention to our award-winning live commerce by securing feedback ‘objectivity’. Dermafirm chose to break through the front to secure 100% honest reviews by influencers on the product. Also, through its “Virtual Live Sales Event”, it focused on capturing consumers’ attention with its excellent functionality based on the expertise and experience of influencers.

In the current situation where it is difficult to find a place specializing in skincare amid the pandemic crisis, the Dermafirm team was enthusiastic about the excellence of Dermafirm home care products and started to reframe their position in the market. This is only possible if you are confident in your product capabilities.

Creating an impact through securing local references and generating awareness was also the secret of Dermafirm’s success. Branding begins with trust and regional cultural connectivity. 

Dermafirm was able to secure the response and support of key influencers in the beauty industry in the North American market at once by attracting many responses from North America with the support of the healthy skin movement and supporting STEM education.

We also focused on balancing the branding and sales strategy that drives the market. The greater the risk, the greater the opportunity. As they succeeded in entering the North American market through bold investments rather than settling in the somewhat safer markets of the Chinese and Asian markets, hot responses and sales are now gaining traction in South American countries. Dermafirm’s branding strategy, which fosters trust based on contributions to the local community, is shining bright amid today’s pandemic crisis.

We hope that more and more Korean companies can find opportunities for growth during this crisis. In the North American market, K-beauty will never stop as a temporary trend.