Kiss Products Inc., best known in the mass market for artificial nails and eyelashes, is getting into the K-beauty cosmetics business.
The Korean-American brand — its founder is of South Korean ancestry — is launching Joah, Korean for “I like it,” this month exclusively on cvs.com. In September, it will be distributed in about 4,000 CVS doors, according to Andrea Harrison, senior director, divisional merchandising manager of beauty at CVS.
This is the latest move for CVS as the retailer doubles down in the beauty category. In the past two years, CVS has added more exclusives and first-to-market beauty launches to keep shoppers from migrating online or to specialty doors.
While CVS stocks some K-beauty cosmetics in select doors, Joah is a full line consisting of 158 stockkeeping units — 23 eye items, 19 brow products, 64 lip choices, 47 face options and five brushes. CVS will position the line in prime end of aisle locations.
The brand is thought to be the first full-range mass K-beauty-inspired cosmetics line in the mass market. Prices range from $2.99 for cosmetics wipes to $15.99 for products such as a cream contour palette.
According to Harrison, Joah mirrors the retailer’s belief in having fun with beauty, while delivering "indulgent moments" of me time. “ philosophy that aligns with the values at the heart of our Beauty in Real Life and Beauty Mark visions,” she said of CVS’ campaign to celebrate women of all ages, sizes and ethnicities along with a vow not to alter its collateral materials in the beauty department. “It brings a point of difference to our assortment, through its cheeky, on-trend positioning that is a unique offering in our channel.”
Annette DeVita-Goldstein, senior vice president of global marketing at Kiss, added, “We feel this is the right time for this brand given what is going on with K-beauty. CVS was the perfect partner given their support of K-beauty.” CVS is considered to have the largest array of K-beauty products in the U.S.
But Kiss is delivering products beyond the wide skin-care array at CVS with the color brand. The timing could be fortuitous. According to Kline research, dollar sales of beauty products from South Korea are growing at more than a 30 percent clip and exceed $250 million in U.S. sales. There is tremendous potential in makeup, which is estimated to produce less than 1 percent of sales to date.
Moreover, skin-care brands built awareness of Korean beauty rituals that DeVita-Goldstein believes can generate interest in cosmetics. In fact, several of the products blur the line between skin and makeup such as a primer called Glow Activator.
CVS’ Harrison confirmed K-beauty resonates with its consumers. “K-beauty has driven fun, excitement and trend to the facial-care category, and is a now a natural fit, and rapidly growing segment in the cosmetics landscape. The development of Joah was inspired by Korean makeup and packaging trends. It is a line of cosmetics that invites you to have fun and enjoy your makeup experience. We continue to find new ways to expand upon our current offerings, particularly when it comes to K-beauty-inspired brands like Joah that encourage playful exploration through cosmetics,” she said.
Although Kiss isn’t well known in mass cosmetics for color lines, the company distributes cosmetics within the professional market and internationally. “We are very familiar with cosmetics,” DeVita-Goldstein said. Kiss is the number-one brand in artificial nails, according to IRI data, and a leader in lashes — a segment the company only entered in the mass market seven years ago. Moreover, she said, Kiss can leverage its knowledge of South Korean manufacturing with its understanding of the U.S. beauty consumer.
That dovetails with CVS’ efforts to deepen its commitment to products that help customers look and feel better. “We’ve continued — and will continue — to invest and innovate our beauty offerings in both our online and in-store experience to create a guilt-free, stress-free atmosphere that makes it easy and exciting for customers to explore new products,” Harrison said. CVS has spent the last few years extending its beauty offer. “We’re always in search of premium lines and niche products. We believe Joah brings an experience consumers would have with top trending prestige brands and innovation that we’re excited to introduce to our customers throughout the country.” She added that consumers are more perceptive, thanks to social media, about innovation and trends, including K-beauty. “They know what they want — and it’s often coming from uniquely positioned niche brands.”
Joah's vibe is “unapologetically girly and feminine,” said DeVita-Goldstein, but with sophistication. Unlike K-beauty skin products loaded with unique, albeit sometimes bizarre ingredients, DeVita-Goldstein said Joah was created for performance. “We didn’t create a medley of ingredients and sprinkle them into the products. We didn’t feel that was necessary for color cosmetics. It was more important to create the highest performing products, rich color paydown, easy to understand, easy to use and good for your skin. In addition, Joah offers eye-catching packaging and engaging names such as, I’m Your Jelly Bae Matte Gel Lipstick and Selfie Ready Setting Spray.”
She added that Joah offers tremendous value. “Look at these palettes,” she said. “You would expect to pay so much more if they were not in CVS.”
Marketing materials behind Joah feature women of all complexions and ethnicities. “We have a robust marketing plan behind this, including a recent preview at Beautycon L.A., digital media, in-store promotions, plus an influencer campaign with an army of online tastemakers. We are working with celebrity makeup artists on tutorials and red carpet appearances, coupled with out-of-the-box sampling programs.
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