[Written in partnership with Althea Korea, but the editorial team had full control over the content.]
From snail slime skincare products, to the popularity of cushion makeup and the “glass skin” look, Korean beauty trends have been leading the way.
For Malaysians like me who want to shop from Korean skincare brands that aren’t innisfree, The Face Shop, or Etude House, going online is the main option.
Ecommerce sites like Shopee can give you access to such products, but I’ve personally been unlucky enough to receive what I’m sure was a counterfeit product. The packaging just didn’t match up to the original.
Buying from the actual Korean brands themselves guarantees authenticity, but language barriers and shipping costs can be deterring factors.
That’s what Althea Korea (Althea) is here for.
Founded in Malaysia under the name Althea Korea Sdn Bhd in 2015, the website brings genuine K-beauty products to South East Asians, some of which haven’t even made it out of Korea before this.
Althea has a wide selection of K-beauty items, and as they claim, products are sold at reasonable prices.
With a newly appointed CEO and plans to recover from the pandemic, we spoke to Althea again to learn more about their strategies.
Newly appointed CEO of Althea, Christopher Cynn (Chris) is a veteran of ecommerce. Part of the founding team for ecommerce site TMON—a Korean unicorn—Chris had a hand in developing the beauty vertical across partnerships in China.
He’s also a co-founder of Althea and has been with the company since the start, overseeing the private brand initiative for the company.
As Althea’s new CEO, he plans to get the company back on track to recover from the pandemic’s effects on the site’s traction.
Because although ecommerce picked up during the pandemic, most purchases weren’t oriented toward beauty products.
Chris shared his two cents, “With many people locked up at their home, the daily patterns of being at home decreased the need for beauty product purchases. Why put on makeup when you are home? Right?”
With that, Chris now wants to double down on Althea’s customer-centric services. They include fulfilling deliveries in a timely manner, to expanding Althea’s product verticals, including the launch of the site’s own brand, A’bloom.
A blooming line
Althea has been shipping Korean skincare products to SEA countries for the past eight years.
With the launch of A’bloom now, I was curious to find out what the catalyst for such a momentous decision was.
Plus, how will they stand out from all the other, arguably more popular and established brands on the platform?
“A’bloom is more customized towards the needs of our customers,” Chris clarified his unique selling point. The reason he dares claim so is that A’bloom’s products have been vetted against years of data mining from Althea.
Furthermore, Althea aims to target the Gen Z crowd. If not apparent enough from the fun, vibrant colors from the marketing visuals, A’bloom carries a messaging that embraces diversity, having fun, and being one’s genuine self.
It’s worth noting that the products currently under A’bloom aren’t Althea’s first go at releasing in-house products. They’ve launched sunscreens, compact powders, etc. under no particular line-up throughout the years, which will be merged under the A’bloom line after redesigns.
Coming out strong
As A’bloom is appealing to the Gen Z crowd who are either still students or newly entering the workforce with lower spending power, the brand has lowered the barrier to entry for trying the products.
The answer: sheet masks, currently sold at RM20 for six pieces.
“Mask packs are the easiest products to try for the consumer,” Chris told Vulcan Post. “People spend less time choosing mask packs. It is an affordable single-use item, rather than a product that you will spend a month with. “
This too was a strategy adopted by another local skincare brand we’ve featured, CLEF Skincare. Since then, CLEF Skincare has been rolling out higher cost, higher commitment products including essences, gel cleansers, and more.
Confident about A’bloom’s product quality, Chris is convinced that once someone tries the products, they will be satisfied, and therefore, be willing to try other product offerings.
Another way the Althea team is capturing the attention of their target market is by collaborating with a new K-pop group, TRACER. The group is making their official debut in a few months.
They are also slated to star in multiple K-pop TV shows this year which will be aired in South America and Europe on Disney+.
“We are pushing multiple ways to get exposure via this partnership. We aim for 300,000 females in Malaysia to have tried A’bloom products by the end of next year, and double the number of A’bloom users by the end of 2030!” Chris projected.
Beauty comes from within
Self-care and prioritizing mental health is probably one of the bigger notions Gen Zs take seriously too, so Althea is matching up to these values by fostering inner beauty.
“Outer beauty and inner beauty are ever-so-needed these days,” Chris said. “Althea believes that inner beauty is essential to maintaining a healthy life.”
As a result, Althea will explore new verticals, such as expanding its product offering to also incorporate vitamins and the like to help people with this need.
Korea’s beauty industry has taken off, especially with the help of K-pop and K-dramas. Chris hypothesized that K-health will soon follow suit, as Korea’s vitamin industry is also relatively robust.
To add, Chris shared that Althea also hopes to help support mental health causes around Asia through its brand.
Though he hasn’t developed a concrete plan, he’d like to form partnerships with services that are more experienced and knowledgeable in these matters. In turn, Althea could hopefully provide customers with a service that helps tackle these issues.
- Learn more about Althea Korea here.
- Read about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Althea Korea