Peach & Lily Founder Alicia Yoon on Bringing Korean Skincare to U.S. Consumers

Taylor Masket
Taylor Masket
Jun 20, 2023

In our 85th episode of Earned, we’re joined by Alicia Yoon, founder and CEO of fast-growing Korean skincare brand Peach & Lily.


With her second child on the way, Alicia shares her approach to balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood, emphasizing the importance of prioritization. We then dive into Peach & Lily’s origin story, and Alicia reveals why she was inspired to pivot her career away from the corporate world—with previous experience at Boston Consulting Group and Goldman Sachs—and focus on her passion: bringing Korean skincare products and practices to the U.S. We learn why Peach & Lily, which started as a K-beauty retailer, decided to launch its own line of skin products in 2018, as well as how its second brand, Peach Slices, complements without cannibalizing. Next, we discuss what it's like to work with your spouse, while Alicia explains why 2020 was the right time to raise funding and bring Sandbridge Capital aboard as a partner to the brand. We then explore Peach & Lily’s rapid climb up the EMV rankings, and Alicia breaks down Peach Slices’ successful Spot Dot campaign to illustrate how influencer marketing fits into the brand’s broader marketing strategies, and how creators are the key to driving sustained growth.

We’ve included a couple of highlights from the episode below, but be sure to check out the full video above, or tune into the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts!

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The following interview has been lightly edited for concision. 

“It's about real, sustained growth in order to have a brand that lasts”: Peach & Lily Founder Alicia Yoon on How Influencer Marketing Serves Broader Marketing Goals

Conor Begley: Looking at the numbers we track, in 2019, you were the 96th ranked skincare brand by EMV, then you moved up to number 69 in 2020, followed by number 41 in 2022. You've passed some big brands, including The Ordinary, SKKN BY KIM, Dr. Dennis Gross, and Dr. Jart. What have you seen work for Peach & Lily as a brand during that time? How would you describe your general philosophy around social and influencers now that you’ve focused more on marketing and not just on the products themselves?

Alicia Yoon: I think one thing we always keep in mind is, what is your goal of influencer marketing? Because it's so easy to make Earned Media Value or influencer marketing an end in itself. You're like, “let's just grow EMV.” But ultimately that isn't the end goal, right?

So when you take a step back, it's always about what is the end goal. And for us, it's about growing, but having sustained growth. It's not about trend-driven, spiky, launch-driven growth. It's about real, sustained growth in order to have a brand that lasts. So influencer marketing has to fit into your larger marketing strategy with that end goal, which is sustained, strong growth. 

And the way we define sustained growth is there's high loyalty, high retention, and the growth is not spiky. I actually think it's really dangerous to grow in a way where you have these huge revenue moments around launches, and then it drops right after. Or you have these big revenue moments because there was a partnership or a collaboration, and then you can't sustain that. For us, really strong growth—and it doesn't have to be mutually exclusive in the sense that we have grown really, really rapidly—but one thing I love about our growth is the quality of that growth. High retention, high loyalty, but also incredibly consistent. That's something that we really focus on. 

So when we look at our overall marketing strategy and how influencer marketing fits into that, there's two things that we always think about. One is when you have a 360 marketing moment, how is your influencer marketing complementing that entire strategy? And there are some moments where your influencer marketing might play a little more top of the funnel, and there are some moments where it might be mid- to bottom-funnel. Especially as you start scaling, I actually think that it’s challenging to think of influencer marketing as a top of funnel strategy only. You really want to think about that mix and that overall strategy.

One concrete example to bring that to life is when Peach Slices was launching at Walmart. As [Walmart is] America’s largest retailer, we’re now reaching a much more ubiquitous demographic. And so how do we think about a marketing strategy, including influencer marketing, to ensure that selling in Walmart is just the start? The sell through and how you grow and how you sustain with that retail partner as well as on your DTC is everything.

What we ended up doing was a really robust 360 marketing campaign. So we had billboards and we had transportation systems with our hero product. We didn’t go so deep in that top of funnel marketing messaging where it's so hard to process everything. We were like, no, people just need to recognize what it is. So the campaign slogan was “Don't pop it. Spot dot it.” Which is a trademark term that correlates to our acne spot dots. We had real people with real breakouts with the fishbowl lens popping pimples. It's not supposed to be flattering, it's supposed to be real. And you're supposed to relate to it as you walk by, like, “Yes, that was me this morning in the mirror.” And then you just remember, “Don't pop it. Spot dot it.” So we had this top of funnel moment, and that was the right avenue for it. 

In terms of influencer marketing, we had a cohort of influencers across various demographics to amplify that top of funnel messaging. We actually filmed them in front of the billboards where they were doing a fun dance and showing the billboard, but also actually doing their own version of “Don’t pop it. Spot dot it.” Then we had a lot of influencers in that mid-funnel category where they're actually showing the benefit of the product, and why this medical grade hydrocolloid product works so well. And then we had a lot of micro- and even nano-influencers focusing on the bottom of the funnel, like “go shop here,” etc. And that was just on the influencer marketing side, but that complemented our overall strategy. So there were the billboards, paid media, all of that. And then of course there were actual Walmart-specific marketing levers as well. 

So we always put that into context, because I do think it can be very tempting when not everything is measurable. You've built this amazing platform where you're measuring EMV, but when it comes to billboards, it's really hard to know what the measurement is there. So I think it's easy for teams to hold on to the things that are more measurable to be like, “It was successful because we grew to this ranking.” But it's like, no, no, no. Take a step back. The goal is sustained growth and your overall marketing program and how everything fits in together.

I think [the Spot Dot campaign] was a really great case study where we thought about influencer marketing as a powerful lever, but in the context of what we were trying to accomplish. And in this specific case it was sustained growth, and also making sure we gave a kickstart to the Walmart partnership. But not in a way where the first couple months after launch, it's off to the races, and then it just slows down. One thing that we're really proud of is that we were incredibly successful at launching there, but every week it just kept growing. So that's how we think about how influencer marketing fits into everything else.

Keep up with new episodes of Earned by following the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, or subscribing to our YouTube channel. To catch up on our previous episodes, featuring leaders from brands like Revolve, K18, Instagram, and Roblox, visit our Earned Podcast page.