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Beauty boxes bring cosmetics bounty

June issue of Memebox (Photo by Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

Publication Date : 16-08-2012


It’s like receiving a Christmas gift anytime of the year. A cheerful-looking black box with white polka dots tied up in a hot pink ribbon arrives at the office. You begin unwrapping the box with anticipation.

You are a little girl once again as you rush to explore the goodies that lie within. The monthly delivery from Memebox, one of the largest beauty subscription services in the country, is jam-packed with cosmetic products ranging from a full-size moisturising cream to a facial treatment discount coupon, with a few well-known foreign brands, some of which cannot be found on the aisles of department stores. On top of the box, brochures of each product are neatly stacked, offering plenty of information.

“Korea has a huge cosmetics market. One magazine contains a couple of hundred ads for cosmetic products that are often worth 50,000 won to 100,000 won (US$44 to $88). Because of the high price and a wide range of products, though, it is impossible to test every beauty product out there,” explained Choe Hyeong-jun, CEO of Glossybox.

The beauty box is one way to resolve the difficulties in choosing the right product in the vast sea of beauty goods. Glossybox and Memebox, Korea’s biggest beauty subscription services, box up about five to six cosmetic products or samples and ship them to subscribers each month.

The subscribers have no idea what is inside the monthly box until they receive it. The companies do not disclose each month’s offerings until the boxes are sent, for the thrill that it provides upon opening the package.

“The beauty box satisfies women’s wish to use a variety of makeup products. It also makes you feel like you are getting a surprise gift each month,” wrote one of the customers on the website of Memebox.

“Many of our customers are very much interested in beauty, but have no time to keep up with the beauty trends due to busy schedules with work or child care,” said Choe of Glossybox.

For such busy customers hungry for new beauty products, the boxes are selected by professional curators or merchandisers who used to work in the cosmetics or fashion industries. Glossybox and Memebox produce boxes for both men and women.

“We not only send cosmetic products, but also information about the cosmetics depending on the seasons and themes,” said Choe when asked about the merits of Glossybox.

For September 2012, Glossybox has prepared beauty boxes in collaboration with the fashion magazine Vogue, while Memebox plans to present the upcoming boxes at New York Fashion Week in collaboration with Concept Korea, a project designed to promote Korean fashion abroad.

On average, each box contains goods worth about 80,000 won ($70) but the subscribers pay no more than 30,000 won ($26) for each delivery.

“Brands offer products for free or subscription companies ask for them. That is how the subscription commerce companies keep the price reasonable,” explained Ryu Han-seok, an IT columnist.

Since Glossybox was launched in Korea in April 2011, about eight to nine subscription commerce services have sprung up. Today, Glossybox and Memebox each claim over 13,000 regular subscribers and the market continues to grow.

“Subscription commerce is an innovative type of lifestyle business with the definite chance of further growth,” said Choe.


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