FOR ANY thriving, profitable business, a creative and successful marketing strategy is essential. Regardless of the exceptional quality of products, companies can only outperform their competition through smart marketing strategies. Due to the growing trend of online platforms, competition for similar products continues to steepen. Nowadays, it seems that everyone we know is in some kind of marketing and influencers are on the rise. But what do marketers actually do? To learn more about the tasks of a marketer, the influencer market, and the differences between various types of marketing,The Yonsei Annals conducted an interview with Rachel Kim, the team leader of the global e-commerce lab at Wishcompany, a Korean beauty brand.
Annals: How is marketing different from branding?
Kim: Branding is about how you strategically represent your company and its image to your customers, whereas marketing is connected more specifically to building awareness and sales. For example, “positive beauty” is part of the global image we want to project to our international audience and Wishcompany’s branding for its online e-commerce platform, Wistrend.com. The essence of our message is that positive beauty means being beautiful on the inside, which is positivity. We focus on different types of beauty, communicating with diverse people, and using healthy products that are clean, sustainable, mostly vegan-friendly, and cruelty-free. In contrast, we use these brand key words such as “positive beauty” and “cruelty-free,” and implement them in our marketing strategies. In order to project the image of our e-commerce platform, we created the #PawPromise and #WishCrueltyFree marketing campaigns, where consumers would post photos with pets to advocate for protection of animal rights and cruelty-free cosmetics.
Annals: What is the difference between global marketing and other types of marketing?
Kim: Marketing itself is very diverse and has many sub-categories. Our company specializes in global marketing, which encompass digital marketing, online marketing, influencer marketing, and performance marketing. The main difference between global marketing and other types of marketing is our audience, and where we market to. Instead of solely focusing on domestic audiences, we appeal to customers from all over the world by marketing based on their cultural preferences, popular social media platforms, and regional trends.
Not only is the target audience different, but the market itself is different. For Wishcompany, a beauty and skincare company, our domestic marketing strategy to Korean consumers would focus on soft, natural beauty. In contrast, our global marketing campaigns emphasize sustainable, clean ingredients, and cruelty-free methods because international and American consumers are more aware of and place greater importance on the type of ingredients used in our products.
Annals: What kind of marketing does Wishcompany focus on?
Kim: Since our company began as a YouTube channel, we focus a lot on influencer marketing and using our YouTube channel as our main media platform. In comparison to our marketing strategies on other platforms such as Instagram or TikTok, which we use to gain attention and followers, we use our YouTube channel to inform and educate our customers about skincare, our brand, and our products.
Influencer marketing is simply partnering with influencers to represent or promote our brand and products. Although celebrity marketing and influencer marketing are based on the same concept, influencer marketing has been a growing trend because it allows companies to target a specific market or audience. Unlike celebrities who have a very broad fanbase, influencers have a distinct demographic, and we can choose which influencers fit into our brand image. I also think there are a lot of advantages to influencer marketing because they are able to communicate and engage with their followers more often than high-end celebrities.
When we choose which influencers to work with, we mainly look at their YouTube channel to see if they have a similar atmosphere to the image of our company, which is a lot like casting auditions for models. Since the global e-commerce lab targets an international audience, we tend to look for westerners with a natural makeup look.
Annals: Do marketers follow trends or create trends?
Kim: I think marketers do both. Marketers have to read and follow the current trends, while creating something new out of them. Nowadays, it is difficult to come up with something completely new and creative; marketing campaigns are always benchmarking other brands and products. So, marketers have to follow the existing trends to an extent, and then put their own spin on it, or create a variation of it, so that it best represents our brand and products.
Annals: Why did you choose to enter the field of marketing?Kim: Prior to entering the field of marketing, I majored in hospitality management during university and worked solely in the area of hospitality after graduating. After realizing it wasn’t the right fit for me, I found it very difficult to shift my career to marketing because all my previous work experience was very distinct and unrelated. Although I wasn’t specifically looking to pursue a career in marketing when I first started, it allowed me to combine my passion for beauty and my interest in YouTube influencers.
My interest in YouTube began with Korean American lifestyle YouTube creators, such as Joan Kim. After moving to Korea in high school, these videos made me nostalgic and reminded me of my life in the States. As YouTube became more popular and I watched more of these videos, I became curious how these girls, who seemed very relatable and similar to me, could make so much money off YouTube, and how companies actually cooperate with these YouTube influencers. As I became fascinated by influencer marketing and the relationship between creators and advertisers, I discovered Wishcompany through YouTube, and actually started my career in this field by simply cold-calling them.
Annals: What are the skills and qualifications needed to enter marketing?
Kim: Despite my initial lack of experience in the field of marketing, I feel that I was able to acquire a global marketing position in my company because of my diverse, global background. Regardless of previous experience, in any industry, I think the most important skill a potential applicant can have is being knowledgeable about the industry they hope to enter. Whether it is fashion or beauty marketing, it is important to know what the current trend is, and knowing it well enough to be able to predict how it will change in the future. There is no manual, and no right answer for marketing, so it is important to have a passion for whichever industry you enter.
Although there are no specified skills or qualifications to enter marketing, online marketing requires good communication skills and creativity. In addition, an increasingly valuable skill for marketers to have is data analysis. Since there is a large risk and uncertainty associated with marketing, many companies have recently shifted to performance marketing. By analyzing marketing data and making decisions based on the data, we are able to reduce the risk of marketing costs and ensure a fixed amount of output for a given input.
Annals: What does your daily routine look like and what do marketers do? What is your role within your company?
Kim: Every time we launch a new product, there are certain steps we need to take before we can officially launch the product. For example, the operations team will describe the product, such as its functions and appeal, and marketers will send out this information to influencers or potential customers. Beauty testers will review the product and we will draw up agreements with other companies, or individuals, to promote our product.
As the team leader of the global e-commerce lab, I generally deal with management and overseeing the decisions of my team members. Marketing is a very broad field, and the assigned role of each marketer varies such as mailing marketing, direct messaging, influencer marketing, customer service, affiliate marketing, or social media marketing. My role is to help my team by determining which products to market every month and guide the direction of marketing strategies for different products.
Annals: What are the most difficult aspects of your job?
Kim: I think the most difficult aspect of the job is communication, because of the amount of required not only outside of, but also within the company. During the process of finalizing marketing decisions, we have to discuss with various other departments such as the public relations lab and the finance lab, which determines our budget. It becomes difficult because in any step of the process our schedule can be delayed depending on when other departments give us information or confirmation. Thus, to work in marketing, you need to be really flexible; if you are the type to work within a fixed schedule and need specific instructions, this may not be the best career choice for you.
Annals: What are the most interesting aspects of your job?
Kim: For me, I think the most interesting part is actually meeting famous beauty YouTubers and actually getting to know them. Since we choose which influencers to promote our products, getting to meet the YouTubers such as Gothamista (skincare YouTuber), or G2HAN (DIY, fashion, beauty YouTube channel) that I personally enjoy watching in my free time is exciting. It is also surprising to see how large the influence of these YouTubers is and the dedication of their fans when we arrange meet and greets.
Additionally, I’m personally always interested in new media marketing and how a new social media platform might change the market. Particularly, seeing how TikTok is a new trending platform globally, it is amazing how this platform is quickly changing marketing strategies and affecting our consumers.
Annals: How do you think influencer marketing will impact the market in the future?
Kim: I think the trend of influencer marketing will last for a long time. As long as YouTube is still around, there are always going to be new creators and I think this is a positive thing. If you look at the Korean market, in the past, Koreans used to only have one look, or one trend everyone was following; everyone looked the same. But recently, I feel like more people have developed diverse and personal styles by following different types of influencers. However, I also think that as the extent of their impact on their followers increases, influencers are going to face stricter regulations about what they say and what they promote. Since anyone can watch their videos and influencers are becoming public figures, they should also carry greater responsibilities.
Annals: Do you have any tips or advice for Yonsei students who hope to pursue a career in marketing?
Kim: Honestly, I don’t think there are any guidelines to begin a career in marketing, but I want students to know that anyone who is passionate about a particular industry can enter and pursue marketing. In my opinion, despite lack of experience, keeping up with trends and having insightful knowledge about the industry is more noticeable and is what distinguishes an applicant. Having previously worked in hospitality really improved my communication skills and ability to present things in a more appealing way because I frequently had to converse with customers directly. Since marketing itself is so broad and consists of various parts, gaining diverse experiences outside the field is also useful.