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[Interview with Beautynury] Singapore, The Test Market to Enter Southeast Asian countries

Wang Ling, Assistant Manager, C&R Healthcare Global




Please give a brief introduction of C&R Healthcare Global


C&R Healthcare Global (C&R HG) is a subsidiary C&R Research, a CRO company providing full arrange of clinic research services. It was established in Singapore in 2017 to support Korean companies’ overseas penetration in healthcare sector. To date, it has provided incubation service to more than 15 Korean companies in the fields of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cosmetics, and digital healthcare. Many healthcare companies are keen to develop cosmetics using their state-of-the-art technology as cash cows and expand business in globe. However, some are unable to achieve the target due to insufficient oversea resources and experience. To fulfil the demand, C&R HG started the K-beauty business by providing one-stop overseas business development services to these companies. 


What are the current achievements of the K-beauty projects under Health Industry Promotion Agency (KHIDI)?


C&R HG started the K-beauty business in 2018 when it was designed as the operator of KHIDI’s cosmetic pop-up project in Singapore. In August 2019, C&R HG opened a K-beauty retail store KO’SCOS in Bugis Junction, a shopping mall locates in the center of Singapore. In last 2 years, more than 400 cosmetic products from over 20 Korean SMEs have been introduced to Singapore. To promote the K-beauty products, more than 100 meetings with overseas buyers were conducted, and over $1.4 million value distribution contracts were signed. Despite the recession of the global retail market during COVID-19 pandemic, KO’SCOS not only retained the stable operation, but also expanded business to local department stores and marts.


Companies receive good feedback in local market and the reasons?


A few K-beauty brands introduced by C&R HG are receiving popularity in Singapore, including Dongsung Bio Pharm’s eZn pudding hair colors, LABnPEOPLE’s Snow2+ microneedle patch, and Gpompous’ NRL Perfect Salad Mask Sheet. Although these K-beauty brands are not well-known yet in Singapore, they have excellent product quality, effective function, and uniqueness that attract consumers’ eyeball. As such, when K-beauty SMEs develop oversea sales channels, quality is a must. Meanwhile, creative marketing strategies are required.


What are the features and K-beauty entry strategies to Singapore and other Southeast Asian markets?


In Southeast Asia, the K-beauty market is gradually growing, and its potential is large. The Korean Wave is prevalent in main Southeast Asian countries, and the young generation’s interest in K-beauty has great influence on their purchasing behaviors. People in Southeast Asia share similar perceptions of beauty with Koreans, and they have similar skin features and beauty recognition. Therefore, many Asians want to have the similar skin as the Korean celebrities in TV. Additionally, considering the large population of Southeast Asian countries, the market potential cannot be ignored.

However, it is not easy to penetrate the market. Many Southeast Asian countries have their own languages. How to accurately and effectively introduce and market the product in a local language is a challenge. Furthermore, although ASEAN countries use the same cosmetic regelation, most countries have their own cosmetic registration or notification procedure and requirements. To enter each market, K-beauty brands need to prepare cosmetic registration for each country. Some could be quite complicate and take long time. As a result, it is essential to develop individual entry strategy because each country has its own economic structure and market characteristics. One of C&R HG’s roles is to utilize its market knowledges and networks in Southeast Asian countries to support Korean SMEs to prepare their entrance and build the local distribution networks.


Any tips for K-beauty SMEs for their overseas expansions?


Singapore is an open market with loose cosmetic regulation, and Singaporean are always looking for new products. However, due to the limited market size, it is necessary to use Singapore as a testing market and expand to other Southeast Asian countries step by step. After Singapore, the next market to be considered is Malaysia, which has relatively loose cosmetic regulations and comparatively higher purchase power. On the other hand, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Philippine have larger market sizes but stricter regulations. To launch a new brand in Southeast Asia, it is important to find a trustable and long-term local partner. Particularly, if English is not widely used in the target market, a local partner not only can solve the language barrier, but also can help smooth the cosmetic product registration and accelerate the product launch through its relationship with government and local business network. In addition, to be successfully in the markets after product launch, it is important to provide sufficient supports to the local partner.


What is the future plan?


C&R HG is preparing to expand online business by launching KO’SCOS shops on Singapore’s key e-commerce platforms in the 2nd half of the year. Since last year, C&R HG enhanced the digital marketing to rise the K-beauty brands recognition locally. In the long term, it plans to provide consulting services for Korean SMEs who want to adventure overseas and provide Southeast Asia expansion solutions through its local distribution networks and online and offline channels.  



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