I was taking the usual payday trot round Boots recently, when I came across this:
Now, blow me down with a power hose, but isn’t that the famous Korean beauty brand Skinfood? Right here in a UK high street branch of Boots the Chemist? (Brighton, to be precise). The other side of the display gave more of a clue:
Now, you’ll note that those aren’t all bona fide Korean brands. They are, as the sign says, “Korean inspired”. Which says to me that Boots are dipping a toe into the hallowed world of Korean beauty and skincare, without actually going the full snail.
Sure enough if you check out the Boots website and search under “Korean”, very little comes up. Not even Skinfood – you’ll find that range here. So far it only consists of a paltry three products. Hopefully the range will expand once people know it’s there. I hope so, because Skinfood make some lovely food and nature-inspired skincare.
Ironically, just as Korean beauty is hitting the UK high street, one of the pioneers of kbeauty retail is backing out of the scene. Memebox have announced that they are retiring from selling Korean beauty products. Instead, they’re focusing on providing information and reviews, then linking to retailers on Amazon rather than fulfilling orders themselves. The content will be coming from embedded YouTube videos already produced by influencers.
Way back in 2014, Memebox used to be hugely, hugely fun. They brought out amazing beauty boxes full of interesting and unusual products. There was a wonderful international community with a real warmth and buzz around it.
On days when a Memebox delivery was due, I used to lurk behind the living room curtains, peeping out for the delivery van. The van would barely get a chance to pull up as I would snatch the pink padded envelope out of the delivery guy’s hands. Then I’d scoot off at top speed to get an unboxing shot for Instagram. If you could be the first person to get the contents of a new Memebox up on Instagram then you were THE SHIT. For about 30 seconds, anyway. Fun times.
Memebox customers were the kind of engaged fans that most companies would kill for. So it surprised us when they took a dump on all those people by stopping international deliveries. And now they’re not providing anything at all. Even the information videos the new site is trumpeting will be unpaid, unoriginal content. It’s like a social experiment in how to run your company in to the ground.
To be backing out of selling kbeauty, just as kbeauty is becoming more mainstream by gaining a presence in high street stores such as Boots and TK Maxx, seems a very odd move to say the least. But still – yay for cool skincare that’s packaged like a tiny panda. You can never get enough of that stuff.