Brief

CVS launching nationwide K-beauty effort

Dive Brief:

  • CVS Pharmacy is launching a new Korean beauty initiative at 2,100 stores nationwide and online as part of its promise to boost its beauty efforts

  • Beginning next month, more than 100 new products from seven trendy South Korean brands (some exclusive to CVS) will be available at the new CVS Pharmacy K-Beauty HQ, developed in partnership with popular Korean beauty expert Alicia Yoon, who will help curate the drugstore chain's selection of skincare and cosmetics products (including items from her own fledgling Peach Slices brand).

  • Target previously partnered with Yoon, founder of the influential Korean beauty e-commerce site and blog Peach & Lily, for a similar effort to pump up its own beauty offering. 

Dive Insight:

“K-beauty” refers generally to personal care and beauty brands from South Korea, and is synonymous with cutting-edge products that tend to include exotic ingredients from biotech-y elements like “Sc-glucan” to more “natural” additives like snails.

The trend has exploded in the past couple of years but shows no sign of fizzling, and South Korean beauty bloggers remain influential, so Target and CVS are surfing a wave they could ride for a while. Not only is the approach a retailer's dream, given K-beauty's emphasis on a multi-step beauty routine involving a host of products, but it's especially smart because the niche includes a variety of brands at various price points, and carries with it a multi-layered sensibility that may not be possible in a collaboration with one upscale or more popular brand.

So CVS and Target are not only on trend here, but also on firm footing. And they’ve chosen to go with one of the most influential K-beauty gurus of them all, self-described “beauty nerd” Yoon. It's not a surprise coming from Target — the retailer innovated the mass market-designer collaboration in the 1980s after it realized it wasn't about to win a price war with Wal-Mart. After straying from that mode, the merchandise differentiation that comes with such collaborations is back under CEO Brian Cornell, including a venture with modernist lifestyle company Dwell and, most recently, fashion trendsetter Victoria Beckham.

For CVS (which now also runs Target’s in-store pharmacy operations, providing a twist to their beauty competition), the tie-up promises to help improve what some analysts see as a weakness — the neglect of its retail side in favor of its healthcare ambitions. That bent toward healthcare could also work in the drugstore chain’s favor, considering that many Korean beauty products promise health benefits.

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Filed Under: Consumer Trends