The story continues for Thailand’s leading player in beauty ecommerce! As Konvy looks to grow beyond Thailand, what are the opportunities and risks it faces?
Our principal Yongcheng Ong shares insights from his experience working with Konvy, a company he had already known in a past life and only deepened the relationship with as they became part of the Insignia family.
If you’re not familiar with Konvy, you might want to check out this article.
When Expanding Regionally, Internal Capabilities and Industry Momentum Are Great, But Is There Really Market / Customer Demand?
This next chapter for Konvy comes at a time of confluence of internal and external factors.
On the one hand, Konvy has already established market leadership in Thailand, building capabilities to bring brands omnichannel in the market, and perhaps more practical for regional expansion, building trusted relationships with global brands.
On the other, beauty and personal care commerce in the region has seen fresh growth largely in part to TikTok Shop’s expansion, where the category dominates the platform (84% of SKUs sold, 70% of GMV, and accounts for 4 out of 5 top-selling items).
Importantly, this was not a spur of the moment decision for Konvy. CEO and Co-Founder QingGui Huang already knew there was market demand for this with the conversations he had been having with the brands Konvy is working with.
As Gui shares on our podcast: “Once [brands] work with us and they have really liked working with us, they share their thoughts that they also want to expand to other countries, and they ask if we can be their partner to expand to those countries…That’s how we found the value and market need for regional expansion. And thanks to Insignia for coming in, as this will help us expand…”
When It Comes to Beauty Ecommerce, The Philippines Is Not So Different from Thailand, But It’s A Whole New Market
Even with these “green flags” for Konvy to go regional, there’s still the question of — why the Philippines?
When it comes to beauty and personal care, the Philippines has several elements Thailand has that made the latter attractive to Gui and Konvy in the first place. Foreign brands have found the Philippines to be a friendly market, while local brands have also grown from strength to strength in recent years. There’s a relatively young, sizable population active on intersection of ecommerce and social media.
Critically, there is still room for a platform like Konvy to support brands at scale and across channels in the same way it has in Thailand, in a market that is only a few billion behind in size (>6bn market in Thailand vs >4bn market in the Philippines in 2022).
But similarities are not enough to catalyze a successful regional expansion. For a consumer or ecommerce company, it will be important to localize on three levels: product mix, supply chain management (and by extension working capital / free cashflow management), and leadership.
Localization Ability is Built On Leadership and Partnerships
This ability to localize is embedded in Konvy’s culture and leadership, with roots in Gui’s own story having to localize himself to the Thai market all those years ago.
“In the very beginning, when I came to Thailand, I couldn’t speak Thai…And I’m trying to host meetings in English, but a lot of the brand owners do not even speak English…And I was thinking that my new year’s resolution [that year] is…to have an effective way to communicate with my staff and the brands.
Sometimes it’s not about you trying to change the world, but for yourself, you have to start understanding the market that you’re running in into first, and adapting yourself.”
When it comes to adaptation, it helps to surround oneself with the right partners and people. Check out open roles in Konvy.
Paulo Joquiño is a writer and content producer for tech companies, and co-author of the book Navigating ASEANnovation. He is currently Editor of Insignia Business Review, the official publication of Insignia Ventures Partners, and senior content strategist for the venture capital firm, where he started right after graduation. As a university student, he took up multiple work opportunities in content and marketing for startups in Asia. These included interning as an associate at G3 Partners, a Seoul-based marketing agency for tech startups, running tech community engagements at coworking space and business community, ASPACE Philippines, and interning at workspace marketplace FlySpaces. He graduated with a BS Management Engineering at Ateneo de Manila University in 2019.