Doctor joins art. A simple-sounding formula but one that has had profound results for a Korean skincare brand that has taken the market by storm.
The unlikely combination of Dr and Art relates to the company philosophy of combining medical grade skincare with collaborations involving artists and designers. In other words, not your average skincare company.
Dr.Jart+ was formed in 2004 in Seoul, South Korea following three years of development by dermatologist Dr Sung Jae Jung and his close friend and entrepreneur Mr Lee Jin-wook. Launched exclusively in dermatological clinics to begin with, the brand is now available in approximately 4,000 stores across 31 countries, has patented eight new inventions, invented BB cream and provides backstage skincare to the models at New York Fashion Week.
In the same year that Dr.Jart+ was established, the professional cosmetic brand management company Have and Be (Beauty in Health) was set up with Mr Lee as CEO, in part to guide the success of Dr.Jart+. In December 2015 US beauty giant The Estée Lauder Companies invested in Have and Be with the intention of providing brand building and related advice.
Sales have increased fourfold since 2010 with Korean duty free sales reportedly rising +1,461% in a year (2015 from 2014). Following the second quarter of 2016, domestic duty free sales were already up +1,490% on 2015.
To find out more, The Moodie Davitt Report’s Clare Austin booked in for a check-up with the President and Owner of Dr.Jart+ Mr Lee.
The Moodie Davitt Report: Could you have predicted the phenomenal success of Korean beauty brands and their subsequent infiltration into the global marketplace?
Mr Lee: Korean women have had great exposure to skincare routines, know-how and products and they are used to investing time to research the best products. Korean beauty brands were first introduced to the global market through the Korean wave: Beautiful Korean women in the entertainment industry with soft, translucent skin informally but effectively confirming the perception that Korean beauty products worked.
Thanks to constant innovation and breakthrough ideas by the Korean beauty industry, Korean beauty brands have now become synonymous with amazing skincare routines.
Beauty brands such as Dr.Jart+ are committed to looking for new ideas and new functions, to launch a product that is effective not only in Korea but also in the global market.
How will Korean beauty brands continue to dominate the market in terms of setting the trends?
For sustainable growth of Korean beauty brands, it is critical to continue presenting the consumers with the most innovative and highest quality products that are readily adaptable for the global market.
How do you manage a dermatological brand in the space and time constrained travel retail (TR) environment?
Dr.Jart+ tries to deliver its own fun and artistic experience to consumers. We have our own Design R&D centre enabling us to create our own spaces which can reflect our philosophy of bringing ‘Healthy Beauty’ to consumers. The space enables them to experience our brand both physically and emotionally. Based on trusted products, Dr.Jart+ combines with culture and art to be placed as a trend-leading brand.
“The ability to surprise with the unexpected is the most competitive power of the Dr.Jart+ brand”
Who are your key travel retail customers?
Trend-sensitive customers in their teens to thirties: More specifically the current Millennials. In travel retail, many visitors are from Asian regions including China, Japan and South East Asia. With the expansion of our TR footprint, and the kind of international success we are enjoying in the US, we are looking forward to touching consumers on a global scale.
“For sustainable growth of Korean beauty brands, it is critical to continue presenting the consumers with the most innovative and highest quality products that are readily adaptable for the global market”
Are travel retail exclusives important to you as a brand? Or are consumers wanting what is available in the local market?
Domestic products and travel retail exclusives run together in travel retail. With the growing demand of travel retail customers, we have also developed a range of special sets and travel kits which have received great feedback. Travel retail exclusives are indeed important to the brand and more will be developed over time.
Is Korean duty free over-reliant on the Chinese consumer?
It is true that Chinese consumers compose a large portion of visitors in Korean travel retail. The spending power of China is expected to continue growing and with close geographical ties, Korea will be positively affected by that. Korean travel retail is very popular with the Chinese these days and we see this as a major opportunity.
Through entering many countries globally such as in the US and Europe and with further expansion into Asia, Dr.Jart+ is strengthening its core as a global brand. We are anticipating a continuous drive in growth.
With our brand concept of ‘doctors join art’, we are well placed to approach global consumers with a strategic allocation of dermatology and art tailored to each country’s cultural and environmental conditions.
How do you ensure customers are buying the right products for their skin?
Dr.Jart+ products are clearly categorised through visual symbols and by colour. Our beauty advisors can suggest the right product for specific skin concerns and guide customers through the unique visual communication of Dr.Jart+. For example, we visualised sensitive skin as thorns and use a reddish pink colour to represent Cicapair (a recovery system for damaged skin). This unique visual communication has received positive feedback from customers.
One of the things that makes Dr.Jart+ stand out is the way that it adapts products to different regions. Can you give us examples of this?
Our Premium BB cream was developed with only a single shade for the Korean market at the first stage. After it was introduced to the US, we developed a second, darker shade.
V7 Toning Light is one example of our products being adaptable across markets, especially in Asia. It has become one of the best-selling Dr.Jart+ products by capturing Asian consumers’ needs, particularly the Chinese consumer. The product is effective for whitening with an instant brightening effect. The reason for its popularity is in answering the Asian consumers need for light skin and simple skincare products. The customers who prefer uncomplicated cosmetics are able to see an immediate effect by using only this product.
“With our brand concept of ‘doctors join art’, we are well placed to approach global consumers with a strategic allocation of dermatology and art tailored to each country’s cultural and environmental conditions”
What plans do you have for further overseas expansion? How far do your global aspirations reach?
The Asian market has been greatly impacted by Korean cosmetics and the Korean beauty trend has been making great inroads in the United States and Australia.
For our future growth, Dr.Jart+ is focused on Europe and the Middle East as our next key regions because Korean cosmetics are at the introduction level in those markets.
Ultimately, Dr.Jart+ will be loved by everyone around the world as the best global derma cosmetic brand. I think the area of cosmetics is a culture more than a simple consumption. I believe that a cosmetic brand blended with its own culture and message can only succeed as a global brand. Dr.Jart+ has pursued new changes through unique activities in various fields and not only in the field of beauty. By engaging deeply with our consumers, I hope to build differentiated competitiveness for Dr.Jart+.
“The area of cosmetics is a culture more than a simple consumption”
Does travel retail provide a door to open up overseas markets?
Yes. TR business is essentially one of the key pillars for our growth and we are putting more focus here. An important factor for us is to work with the right people in the industry to spread our reach to the right customers. With Jonathan Holland & Associates who have a proven reputation in TR, we are confident that we will expand our TR business and support our consumers real-time and on-site.
You will see this year that we are already beginning to roll out our presence in key TR retail outlets across several important markets.
Even more tourists from around the world can now experience Dr.Jart+’s culture and products at an affordable price through TR. This experience and the Dr.Jart+ touch will help our consumers to remember our brand after their journey.
“The skincare market is expected to grow due to environmental reasons such as fine dust and ultraviolet rays”
The make-up category is booming at the moment driven in part by Millennials and the popularity of on-line tutorials. Skincare has always been a stronger category in Korea, is that changing?
The make-up market has been growing rapidly and it is expected to continue because of the influence of the consumption of contents trend. However, the skincare market is expected to grow due to environmental reasons such as fine dust and ultraviolet rays. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of smart consumers who buy cosmetics by considering which ingredients will best protect their skin from harmful chemical substances. As such, derma cosmetics with assurances such as ‘low irritation’ and ‘safety clinical test completed’ are more in the spotlight these days.
“Recently, there has been an increase in the number of smart consumers who buy cosmetics by considering which ingredients will best protect their skin from harmful chemical substances”
Can you tell us about the latest Dr.Jart+ product innovations?
I think that one of our most innovative products recently is the Rubber Mask. The idea came from a modelling pack frequently used by dermatology and aesthetic clinics. The current products that are available on the market are difficult to use they require consumers to mix powder and water themselves. However, Dr.Jart+ Rubber Mask is revolutionary as it presents a simplified method for using this product at home but with a similar effect.
In 2011 Have and Be launched DTRT (Do The Right Thing) a beauty brand for men.
How is DTRT performing? How many markets is it sold in and are there plans to expand?
DTRT is based on men’s cosmetic culture. It is currently sold in three countries: Korea, China and the US. Since launching, it has grown steadily to become a trend leading men’s cosmetic brand in Korea. We plan to introduce DTRT to the European market in the near future.
As DTRT is a brand that explores men’s lifestyles, infusing men’s philosophy and culture, the potential growth for the DTRT brand is unlimited.
Dr.Jart+ prides itself as a company in seeing beauty beyond the physical. What do you think this adds for the consumer?
For healthy and clear skin, it is important to use good cosmetics of a high quality that fit well for you, but most importantly, beauty stems from your lifestyle. If you maintain a balanced lifestyle you skin will most likely be smooth and clear. Dr.Jart+ opened our first flagship store ‘Filter Space’ in Seoul as a space to showcase a pure and balanced lifestyle. Many consumers are responding to new approaches to beauty.
What Dr.Jart+ innovation or invention are you most proud of?
Our team at Dr.Jart+ puts the utmost effort into trialling new attempts to push the boundaries of beauty, communicating our values and style for the brand in our own way.
Among our current launches, the Ceramidin Oil Balm has introduced a new range of balm type product to the US. The US consumers were very surprised with this innovative product because it changes from a solid balm to a liquid oil when it touches the skin. I am very proud to present and introduce this type of new product into a market. I feel that the ability to surprise with the unexpected is the most competitive power of the Dr.Jart+ brand.
A recent article on the Korean beauty industry by UK Vogue claimed that: ‘thanks to government investment in R&D, So-Ko (South Korean) beauty is said to be seven years ahead of the rest of the world in product development.’
Do you think this is an accurate assessment?
In addition to the investments into R&D in Korea, Korean customers are used to experiencing new products and getting information quickly in order to find the ‘right’ beauty products. Naturally, the expectations of Korean customers are high. We think that this competitive environment makes it possible to develop sensational and trendy products to meet the discerning needs of our customers.
In your experience what are the challenges, and what are the advantages, when Eastern and Western beauty businesses collaborate?
I see diversity as a true beauty because diversity brings new ideas and new views. It is a great pleasure to see the Dr.Jart+ business grow globally and we learn greatly from our partners around the world – regardless of East and West.
Backstage beauty: For the past few seasons, Dr.Jart+ has been on hand at New York Fashion Week with a ready supply of its signature sheet masks, best-selling products such as Cicapair and Dermaclear and make-up artists armed with the Liftra Contour Shaper to ensure the models looked their bestView Gallery
Dr.Jart+ will push forward the boundaries of derma cosmetics beyond Korean beauty. Our team at Dr.Jart+ is driving forth our brand to become the ‘global only one’ brand in derma cosmetics through our experiences and methods of understanding beauty.
You have appointed Jonathan Holland & Associates (JH&A) to be your TR agency. How do you see this relationship working to your advantage?
JH&A, headed by Jonathan Holland, has a well-established and positive reputation in the TR industry.
More importantly, they have proven success in building up Korean brands within a short period. We would like to leverage Mr Holland’s expertise as well as his network to accelerate our TR growth.
As a relatively new player, we feel we are more agile, responsive and service-orientated, three characteristics which also define JH&A. We are confident that this partnership will facilitate Dr.Jart+’s ability to branch out faster and to attain deeper market access within the global TR industry.
As a Korean brand with strong Asian values, we feel proud that we have so far achieved reasonable success in the West. We will continue to innovate and launch unique but adaptable products to fit our customer base in all markets.
With Jonathan Holland’s understanding of our culture and values, juxtaposed with his Western values as well as his knowledge and experience in the global TR market, we are in the right position to drive our product presence into new markets across Asia, Europe and the rest of the world.
“As a relatively new player, we feel we are more agile, responsive and service-orientated, three characteristics which also define JH&A. We are confident that this partnership will facilitate Dr.Jart+’s ability to branch out faster and to attain deeper market access within the global TR industry.”
And finally, how do you see the future for Dr.Jart+?
I feel that derma cosmetics will grow more in the future due to the growing concern surrounding urban pollution and our customers’ desire to shield and protect themselves from environmental factors such as smog and UV rays.
Dr.Jart+ will continue its effort to create a new chapter in derma cosmetics with honest products and a light and humorous communication between Dr.Jart+ and our consumers, or, as we like to call them, our fans. I am confident that Dr.Jart+ will have an even brighter future, bringing our best efforts of sincere skincare to our global fans.