Beauty brand 3INA continues its retail furore. The sassy British makeup brand has teamed up with distribution firm Bluebell Group to develop the brand in Southeast Asia this year, with plans to open stores in four major Asia markets.
This year, 3INA plans to open its premier monobrand stores in Malaysia and Singapore, with Thailand and Indonesia to come, according to 3ina co-founder, Mark Eve, who spoke with Retail In Asia this week.
Inspired by the vibrancy of South American culture, 3ina, pronounced Mina, offers a different approach to beauty and retail, says Eve.
“We are affordable luxury, and we focus primarily on the colour segment of makeup,” says Eve, in an interview with Retail In Asia. “When you walk into our store you are greeted by a mosaic of colour. If you go to Argentina and you see a beautiful girl, you would call her a ‘mina’. We tipped the ‘m’ on its side, and it became 3ina.”
Launched in 2016 by Eve and Pablo Rivera, the very first 3ina makeup store was opened in London in February last year. Offering professional grade European-made cosmetics at an accessible price tag, 450 products across six categories, and trend-savvy products launching every four weeks, the British beauty brand was an instant hit
3ina’s monobrand presence soon spread beyond the UK, on track to rival LVMH-owned Sephora and fast-fashion offshoot H&M Beauty, but with a point-of-difference.
“We travel the world a lot, and when you look at the monobranded beauty space, there are not that many retail concepts in the market,” explains Eve.
In the last 12 months, Rivera and Eve have pushed 3ina’s colourful and energetic cosmetics in to Europe and Australia, while inking e-commerce distribution with online majors such as Asos.
After London, 3ina opened stores in Athens and Milan, before heading to Australia in June, where it bowed two separate locations in Melbourne; one in Melbourne Central, the other in Southlands. It plans to open 300 stores worldwide in the next three years.
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“As for our stores, we take the best possible locations in the main traffic, and in centre that generally have young energetic experimental crowd.”
The 3ina customer is the Millennial, meaning digital platforms have been a large part of the brand’s marketing and selling strategy.
“Our customer spends most of their time on the phone, and all of our investments are into the devices,” says Eve.
Before 3ina, Eve and Rivera launched Global Retail Partners, a UK-based privately held global investment and retail consulting firm, in 2012. The pair managed to self-fund in the infancy phase of 3ina, but in the last 12 months, the brand has had to look outside its four walls for investment and capital, as well as price-less industry expertise.
“We have a very pretty track record in our ventures, but we want more than just money, we want people with expertise and money,” says Eve. “Our Board is made up of incredible retail families who are all invested in our project. Whatever the challenges and opportunities we face as a brand, we have a well-experienced board to help us.”
Since launching, Rivera and Eve have recruited Helen McGee, formerly of Net-a-porter, as head of marketing; César Perez Luna, formerly at Sephora, as head of business development, and Cristina Cobo, of Kiko Cosmetics, will lead product development. Toni Minguet, formerly of Apple, heads up technology.
The company has also tapped the MarioTestino+ agency as creative consultant to oversee brand identity, trends and vision.
Such industry contacts and financial support has been crucial in 3ina’s surging growth and prepared it for entering the cosmetic market in Asia, one that is dominated by Korean cosmetics and large firms with big digital advertising budgets and even bigger voices.
“Our greatest challenge is having share of voice. The customer is pretty overwhelmed with brands invading their space,” says Eve.
“Social media is now becoming a big advertising platform. We don’t go for big influencers, we are quite organic focus, and believe that our product will carry us.”
“We just hope that through genuinely seeding our product through the market they will help us communicate the quality of our products,” concludes Eve.