Today’s beauty landscape is saturated with competition. The use of celebrity spokespeople is a basic tactic to break through the clutter, but when it comes to natural skincare and wellness the pitch has to be sincere for longterm success. There’s even more expectation when the famous face is the founder, says Brett Riddington, General Manager of KORA Organics, the hugely popular organic skincare brand launched by supermodel Miranda Kerr.
“Miranda is intrinsically involved with everything in the brand, interacting with product development and packaging design and identifying and creating new products that are true to her lifestyle. She has built up a strong credibility platform and consumers all over the world notice and respond”.
KORA Organics is not only backed by Miranda’s powerful persona through millions of Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat followers, a spectacular career as an international model and beauty and health guru, it also boasts the most stringent internationally recognised organic credentials from COSMOS (Cosmetic Organic Standard). Long a hit in Australia, the brand embarked on an ambitious global expansion strategy in 2017, starting with the launch of an all-new four SKU range in 360 Sephora stores in the US in May.
ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE TO REVAMPED LINEUP/ 25 NEW MARKETS
Earlier in 2017, Richard Pietz, a widely respected cosmetics industry veteran with over 20 years’ experience was appointed Director of Product and Sourcing for KORA Organics. Riddington, formerly General Manager, Beauty for David Jones and General Manager of Estée Lauder Australia, took over the reins as General Manager and the results have been phenomenal. “Over the past year, we have expanded from being available in two overseas countries to reach 25 markets by the end of the year”.
The local and international response to the new generation, 27 product lineup which debuted from mid-2017, positioning KORA Organics as a premium certified organic brand has been even more enthusiastic than we hoped for, says Riddington. “The revamped range rolled out in Australia from July to December and because of the more premium positioning we re-assessed distribution. About two years ago, the brand was available in 250 pharmacies, but we have scaled back to 60 selected pharmacies nationwide. Miranda was formerly an ambassador for David Jones and we retained the longstanding department store exclusivity which has been in place since the launch of the brand in 2009. All 43 David Jones stores stock the full range”.
Launching in Sephora in the US generated a strong response, says Riddington. “We have introduced the entire range online and then will roll out to key stores. The Sephora concept stores in the JCPenney department store network will also come on board next year. In August, we are extending to Sephora Canada. We also chose to go with Sephora in Australia because here and overseas they bring a different, younger customer base to the brand. They are beauty devotees and are very active on social media”.
TOTAL ORGANIC LIFESTYLE / ASIAN FOCUS
With more people leading a completely organic lifestyle, the sort of upmarket stores that started with food have branched out into beauty, says Riddington. “They attract a different clientele than specialist beauty chains but their customer base is also looking for more premium, refined ethical beauty products. We have had great success with Flannerys, for example, which now has 12 stores in Queensland and six in NSW. We also have a strong partnership with Nourished Life, Australia’s leading one-stop-shop website for organic beauty, health and fitness brands. Sales through Adore Beauty have quadrupled over the past year and it’s also a wonderful education channel for consumers”.
KORA Organics’ Australian online store is growing at the rate of 50 per cent, says Riddington. “We put a lot of our marketing investment into social and digital media and post daily. We talk directly to customers, and as a result sales to international customers are now nearly 10 times what they were”.
Asia, notably China, was also earmarked as a major source of growth. KORA Organics launched on Alibaba’s Tmall, China’s largest online marketplace, last November. “We opened our own flagship store. Alibaba sent a crew to Miranda’s home in Los Angeles in February to livestream for Tmall and 220,000 viewers logged on. Orders come in daily and we are also on the major social media platforms, Weibo and WeChat”.
Other fast-growing Asian markets are also very much on the radar, notes Riddington. “We launched in Singapore through Sephora in April, and Malaysia is also doing well. Taiwan, the Philippines and Hong Kong are shaping into significant markets for 2018. India, Thailand and Indonesia are a big focus in 2019 as they are among the most rapidly growing beauty markets in the world and have a strong preference for natural products”.
South Korea and Japan are the leading beauty manufacturers and trendsetters in Asia, and where they lead others follow. “Through our distributor, we are looking to partner with Chicor, a new multi-brand chain similar to Sephora. Launched by Shinsegae, whose flagship store in Seoul is the largest department store in the world, it’s a very clever concept. They have five Chicor concept stores in department stores and the first standalone store opened in Gangnam in late December. We will also enter Japan and are looking for a distributor”.
EUROPEAN EXPANSION / BENCHMARK RETAILERS
In spite of the fact that Asia has grabbed the international beauty spotlight, Europe remains the largest regional beauty and personal care market in the world worth almost US$91 billion a year. Douglas is Europe’s leading perfumery and cosmetics chain with 2500 stores in 19 countries. “They are very progressive in skincare and love KORA Organics”, says Riddington. “In August, we are launching in eight European countries through Douglas – Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, The Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland. We will then launch in the remaining countries in 2019”.
Russia has also become a strong focus for KORA Organics following an agreement with L’Etoile, the largest network of perfume and makeup stores in Russia with over 850 doors nationwide.
“I went to Moscow and was blown away by the sophistication of L’Etoile”, adds Riddington. “They stock thousands of brands, including Chanel, Dior, Tom Ford, Guerlain, Estée Lauder and Clarins. KORA Organics is launching in 300 L’Etoile stores in October”.
The Scandinavian countries boast some of the highest percentages of natural and organic beauty sales in the world. “We launched in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark in April and May. Again, partners such as the prestigious Stockmann department stores in Finland Magasin du Nord in Denmark and Kicks beauty speciality stores in Sweden and Norway, are strong platforms to enter all four markets”.
What we have discovered everywhere is that specialist beauty chains and department stores are important to the continuing success of KORA Organics because they invest heavily in training staff, says Riddington. “In New Zealand, we are doing good business through Ballantynes, Smith & Caughey’s and David Jones in Wellington. We will be launching in the UK through Space NK in the first quarter of next year. It’s been a remarkable year for expansion. Even though we are a small team, we are all passionate and work hard. By the end of this year, our total local and international business will be seven to eight times bigger than it was only two years ago”.
New product development has also been constant. “We launched our Noni Radiant Eye Oil, complete with a rose quartz rollerball, in March and it quickly became KORA’s number one product. Our new Turmeric Brightening & Exfoliating Mask is debuting in July. More serums are also in development and watch this space in the skin food category”.