Exclusive: WGSN meets Korean beauty brand Erborian- Part one

If you haven’t already heard about Erborian, then this is a beauty brand you need to check out. Erborian is one of my favourite skincare brands. I first came across the company about seven-years-ago when I was introduced to their BB Cream – a product that I still use today.

Founded by Hojung Lee, a Korean scientist based in Seoul, and Katalin Berenvi, who is based in Paris, Erborian uses traditional Korean herbs and ingredients in all their skincare products. The brand is rapidly expanding globally, with three standalone stores already opened in Paris, Moscow and now Seoul.

In the first part of this exclusive interview, I got the lowdown on the future plans for the Erborian brand. Look out for part two of the interview tomorrow, where the founders reveal all the hottest Korean beauty trends and where this boom industry will be headed.

WGSN: Hello ladies, we’re sitting in your new Seoul store, what can you tell me about what this location means to you?

Hojung Lee: This is our first store in Asia. It’s the perfect spot for our boutique, located south of the river in an iconic and trendy area in Seoul, where there is a high number of tourists as well as local residents who live in the area. Korean consumers like to try before they buy, so we have a consultation area for testing products and a herbal bar that shows all the ingredients used in our products. We have 39 SKUs (stock keeping units) in the store and we plan to add another 10 SKU’s by the end of the year.

WGSN: What are the hot skincare trends in Korea right now?

Hojung Lee: The traditional Korean women have one of the longest beauty routines – they layer a lot of products on their skin. But now, we are seeing multifunctional products becoming a big trend as consumers look to shorten their routines, economise on the amount of products they use and save money. Korean women love the double-cleansing approach, and now two-in-one products are becoming popular such as multi-cleansers or multi-toners that doubles up as a cleanser and hydrating toner to cater for this trend. Also, mousse masks are making a return replacing the mud masks.

WGSN: Who do you think is influencing the new Korean beauty trends?

Katalin Berenyi: Korean beauty trends correspond and are born from our global aspirations, naturality, expertise and high rhythm of innovations. This main trend is fuelled by the progressive opening of South Korea, with a higher visibility of their expertise in skincare and make-up, coupled with the arrival of younger digital influencers, who react very quickly, are expert and very, very curious about new type of beauty routines and products. The trend is especially strong in the USA, where many young Koreans study or studied and where their voice is best listened to. UK follows very closely this huge curiosity, influenced mainly by bloggers since the BB Cream phenomenon.


WGSN: What are the three best-selling Erborian products in Korea?

Hojung Lee: Yuza Sorbet. Pink Perfect Crème. And CC Cream.

WGSN: Are there any products specifically launched just for the Asian market?

Katalin Berenyi: As of today, Erborian has international products. We understand well the global consumer trends and sometimes we position our products slightly differently, depending on the geographical regions. For example brightening is a main trend in Asia and in Korea since a few years, we express this benefit in Europe by speaking about mostly radiance, which is how we, in Europe, like to speak about the result of a unified, spotless, and lively skin complexion.

WGSN: What is the future for the company?

Katalin Berenyi: Erborian is expanding very quickly, we have just opened our third store in Moscow, after Paris and Seoul. Our future plans include a 2015 opening in Hong Kong, where we have the chance to enter Facess beauty store, with a shop-in-the shop format. Other shop openings will depend on the results of these first stores and also on our reactivity in the optimisation of our retail model.

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