Launched by GS Retail in 2005 following a joint venture with AS Watson Group, Watsons is a chain of beauty stores operating throughout Asia. GS Retail took full ownership of Watsons' Korean operations last February after acquiring the remaining 50% stake.
At the beginning of 2018, Korea's GS Retail Group proceeded to reposition its Watsons chain of stores, opting for a new name: Lalavla (랄라블라, to be pronounced "la la bla"), This change came after 13 years of operation, in order to relaunch a more modern and dynamic brand image suited to the market's target core.
Keeping up with Olive Young
The rebranding shows the group's determination to remain competitive in a beauty market dominated by leader Olive Young, which owns no less than 950 stores across Korea. A shift that began last year with the record opening of 60 new outlets in the second half of 2017, adding to the 188 stores already opened during Watsons time. Lalavla is now the second largest Korean beauty retailer in terms of number of stores.
Definitely instituted in February 2018, this radical identity change results in a refinement of the target market of young Koreans between 20 and 30 years old. A trendy brand image combined with a more hybrid product offering, matching the target audience.
Heading towards millenials
As a logical extension of this new strategy, the design and layout of the stores have been rethought: strong accents on the hot trends of the moment, or "The tourists' choice" corners highlighting the K-Beauty products most popular with foreigners visiting Seoul, which has become in a few years the international beauty mecca for young consumers and web influencers.
With Lalavla, GS Retail also wants to adopt an eco-friendly approach, promoting more natural cosmetics, packaged in recyclable materials, as well as a range of organic home ambiance products. This concept is highly appreciated by millennials, who are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their consumption and its effects on their health.
In terms of products, many exclusive brands have recently been signed (Merbliss, Once in a Moon, etc.), allowing the inclusion of young, differentiated brands among the brand's flagship products that are well known (Peripera, Mamonde, Leaders, etc.), for a 360° offer that is specific to the desires of millenials.