Retail in Asia


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Indonesia’s beauty brand Somethinc


Launched in May 2019, Somethinc is an Indonesian homegrown beauty brand that focuses on skincare that addresses the needs of Indonesian consumers offering superior quality ingredients at affordable prices. Within two years, Somethinc grew rapidly and managed to reach the Top 1 largest skincare market share on Indonesia’s digital platform Shopee. It also became the #1 best-selling skincare brand in Indonesia’s e-commerce platform Shopee nine times in a row in 2021, and has become one of the top skincare brands in modern cosmetic stores. Since its inception, Somethinc has expanded into cosmetics. In December 2021, the brand launched more than 120 makeup products.

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Somethinc has a very wide distribution channel and can be found in various e-commerce and thousands of cosmetic stores in 81 cities in Indonesia. 

Retail in Asia had the pleasure to interview Irene Ursula, Somethinc’s founder and a serial beauty entrepreneur. Together we discussed the beauty market in Indonesia, the rise of Asia homegrown brands, Somethinc’s omnichannel strategy and future plans.

RiA: Can you give us a background into your journey before launching your beauty brand in 2019 and the reasons behind the launch of Somethinc?

Source: Somethinc

Irene: The starting point of my journey as a Beautypreneur started in 2014 with the launch of BeautyHaul, a beauty e-commerce company that provides original beauty products ranging from skincare, makeup, body care, to accessories from well-known international and local beauty brands.

When I developed this e-commerce platform, I learned that beauty enthusiasts in Indonesia were more interested in international brands, because at that time the Indonesian market did not trust the quality of local beauty products, despite the quality being on par with international products. To build that trust, we decided to expand our offering to local beauty products.

One of my goals is to prove that beauty products in Indonesia can compete globally. When I travel to other countries, I really want to see an ‘Indonesian Beauty Section’ in drugstores, like there are dedicated beauty sections for Korean beauty products.

Based on that mission, me and 60 team members officially launched Somethinc in May 2019. We first looked at the Indonesian skin problems, what kind of products they need to address the gap in Indonesia’s market. Based on those critical points, we conducted in-depth research and used the highest quality ingredients and formulation to cater to the various needs of beauty consumers in Indonesia.

RiA: Can you elaborate on the beauty market in Indonesia and how challenging it is to launch a homegrown brand?

Irene: The beauty market in Indonesia continues to grow, along with the changes in the concept of beauty in our society. In the past, consumers tended to think that beauty was about having fair skin tone, perfect skin texture, and acne-free skin. But now, consumers are starting to realize that beauty grows from within themselves and they are starting to try to find the best solution for different skin problems.

Indonesian consumers have also started to be interested and trust local products. This translates into the acceptance and adoption of local beauty products including our Skincare, Makeup, and Body Care launches. This shows that the diversity in beauty products have become more mainstream and this helps build the self-confidence of consumers in Indonesia.

RiA: It is interesting to see the recent rise of high-quality homegrown brands in Asia. You said that through the launch of your own brand you want to show that local brands deserve recognition. Can you elaborate on that?

Irene: I saw how Korean beauty trends have become a global phenomenon. Many beauty enthusiasts around the world are interested in K-beauty products, from skincare to makeup.

With the quality and innovation that local brands continue to deliver, I believe the local beauty industry is able to enter international and popular markets, like K-beauty did. I want Somethinc to be the brand introducing the concept of Indonesian beauty industry to consumers around the world.

RiA: Can you tell us more about your beauty brand and what makes your products unique?

Irene: We have developed Somethinc based on the specific needs of Indonesian consumers, their skin problems and expectations. Then we built the marketing and branding strategy. We really understand the beauty market and are passionate about what we’re doing. Research is an important part of our product development. Consumers’ needs have always been our #1 priority and the inspiration for Somethinc’s product development – from reformulation to creating new formulas. Listening to our customers’ needs we released 120 makeup variants in December 2021 that included specific shades for Asian women’s skin. Through the ‘consumer love’ approach, we believe that listening to our consumers’ experience using our products will help us continue to grow.

RiA: What are your best- selling products?

Irene: Our Niacinamide Sabi® Brightening Serum is our consumer’s favorite product. Before it was released, consumers tended to use brightening skincare products with Mercury and Hydroquinone ingredients. Meanwhile, we are here to offer a brightening skincare product with 8x Hydroquinone and natural ingredients of SabiWhite®️ that has been patented by Somethinc. 

RiA: How many stockists and marketplaces do you work with and what is your omnichannel strategy?

Irene: We started by developing BeautyHaul, Indonesia’s first Beauty e-commerce platform, to penetrate the market. We want our products to be easily accessible and enable consumers to get detailed information about our products. We are now expanding our own BeautyHaul offline store in many cities. Our products can also be found in other offline and online channels, such as e-commerce, drugstores, and also beauty stores. On the other hand, we keep growing Somethinc’s resellers network. We work with hundreds of resellers from various regions in Indonesia, including Papua.

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RiA: What’s next for Somethinc?

Irene: We want our products to be known on a global scale and have a special place in the hearts of consumers around the world. Therefore, we are now going global this year and will be available in several countries shortly. Moreover, we will also have more sister brands coming up in the future.