2017-12-07 19:19
Coway plans to tap into stylers, cosmetic items
Water purifier maker will roll out ‘stylers,’ cosmetic items

By Park Jae-hyuk

Coway, the country’s largest water purifier maker, said Thursday it will introduce “stylers,” a steam clothing care system, next year to compete with LG Electronics.

Coway CEO Lee Hae-sun showcased the products enabled by Amazon’s artificial intelligence agent Alexa at a lecture in Seoul, Thursday.

“On top of its original functionality, our styler will also give fashion advice to its users via Alexa. This is the second styler on the market after the LG product, but it is better,” said Lee, who took charge of the firm late last year. “It will hit shelves next March. We hope that sales will reach millions.”

LG came up with a steam clothing care system in 2015. It uses water to remove unwanted smells or stains quickly and effectively while hardly damaging the clothes.

It also steams away wrinkles and creates pant creases, as well as keeps them crisp.

Coway is also taking advantage of Alexa to offer fashion advice to users.

The CEO did not talk in detail about its business model. Drawing interest is whether or not it will offer the new products based on the subscription model, which the firm successfully has for its water and air purifiers.

Lee said the Seoul-based company will launch a portable cosmetics product, which will provide makeup advice ― also based on Alexa.

“The two most important things in makeup are humidity and ultraviolet rays. After automatically checking the two, our product will give advice on the best way to apply makeup,” he said.“The market is enormous. We are happy that we can cooperate with Amazon.”

In making the new product, Lee said that his experience at CJ helped greatly.

Lee, who earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Chung-Ang University, served as the head of marketing at AmorePacific, now the country’s largest producer of cosmetics, and CEO of CJ O Shopping.

He also headed CJ Cheiljedang, the country’s largest manufacturer of food, food ingredients and pharmaceuticals.

Such brands as Innisfree, a cosmetic trademark, and Hatban, ready to eat cup meals, were his ideas. He also created Bibigo, a CJ brand that focuses on Korean cuisine.

MBK Partners, a homegrown private equity fund, holds a 30.9 percent controlling stake in Coway.