GlossyBox Korea Turns Two Years Old

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GlossyBox, the first subscription commerce company to hit Asia, has turned two years old. The service offers five different samples to members every month for a minimal fee. Since GlossyBox started, over 100 other subscription commerce companies have popped up in various industries including cosmetics, agriculture products and drinking water.CEO of GlossyBox Hong-joon Choi recollected setting up the company.

“Being the first subscription commerce company in Korea and introducing an unfamiliar model to the Korean market wasn’t easy.”

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The company’s first 500 boxes were sent out in May 2011 but most of them went to the marketing team, magazine editors and power bloggers. There was only so much that Choi could say to convince others of this new type of business, but within 2-3 months it had definitely caught on and even became the most searched term by single women on internet portals.

As more people signed up, the most conservative cosmetic companies began opening their doors to the company. Choi began forming partnerships with luxury brands such as Ferragamo, Guerlain and Rene Furterer. GlossyBox has continued to form such partnerships over the past two years and signed a contract with Cath Kidston last August, with plans to partner with a second luxury brand this September. The company boasts approximately 10,000 long term subscribers but Choi is modest.

“When we first started we used the terms ‘the first’ and ‘the biggest’. Our slogan was also ‘Korea’s number one brand’. But we realized that really the most important things were the products and quality of service. Currently we are focusing on customer satisfaction by ‘surprising them once a month’.”

The company was originally launched by global incubator Rocket Internet. and Choi, who graduated from Seoul University and worked in the investments department of SK Telecom, was selected to be the CEO.

“At the time I asked the CEO of Rocket Internet what would happen if the company didn’t do well. 95% of startups fail within the first six months. He said that if it failed due to market conditions, that they’d give me another chance.”

Choi decided that it would be okay to start out in a business with Rocket Internet which had a culture that allowed for failure. In the end he took on the challenge of setting up the company not only in Korea, but also Japan, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. GlossyBox currently operates in 16 countries worldwide.

So where is GlossyBox headed? I expected an answer about various brands and expanding partnerships but Choi’s said something different. He talked about using information from its current members to focus on personalized marketing. While previous marketing has mostly been “viral” and social-media based, now the company is planning to change its tactics. GlossyBox is currently waiting for its third round of funding from Rocket Internet.

“I don’t think that there will be a huge increase in the number of users. We plan to introduce cosmetic recommendation and sharing services, as well as consult members about their skin type.”

This post was translated from the original article by Jeongyoon Heo at ET News, a media partner of VentureSquare.

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Andy has lived in Korea since 2007 and is the Global Editor for VentureSquare.

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