[BI Interview] Leslie Carpenter – CEO of Carpenter Consulting, LLC

Bi - vol.7
GDKACC Business Magazine

Leslie Carpenter was a major buyer for the Expo this year, following last year. As a partner and business consulting expert at GDKACC, she always suggests ways for Korean companies to enter the U.S. market. After the Expo, Leslie Carpenter evaluated that the Korean beauty industry has a competitive potential in the U.S. market.

Q. What do you think of participating as an online business meeting buyer?

A. Meeting virtually is not ideal. But, since so many expositions have been postponed, the meetings are a great alternative way to do business. I am very thankful that the Chamber is continuing to try to keep business between South Korea and the USA thriving.

Q. What is your comprehensive assessment of the product quality, K-beauty brand, and potential for entry into the U.S. market of Korean companies that participated in this expo business meeting?

A. I had the opportunity to personally meet one-on-one with more than 15 companies.   I was impressed with their products and innovation.  Communication is often still a problem, but it was good to see that so  many of the manufacturers now have English speaking staff.  It just makes doing business easier.  I was also pleased that Chamber staff were able to help out the companies that lacked adequate translation services.  We must continue to strive to prepare Korean brands for future meetings with retailer buyers and partners.

Q. Would you let us have ratings for the event as a complete online expo? What point of view should we improve? What is good in general?

A. Aside from the first day’s technology glitch, it was a well-organized event with great speakers and brands.  Walgreens gave very helpful insight into what retailers are expecting from brands.  Sharing their perspective was personally helpful to me and I’m certain the manufacturers felt the same.  The presentation by Dr. Graham Peaslee, Professor at Notre Dame and author of the highly publicized study about potentially harmful chemicals in cosmetics, was perfectly timed as Congress looks at closer FDA oversight.  Professor Peaslee’s suggestion that manufacturers should see the spotlight on ingredients as an opportunity since so many South Korean manufacturers are already striving to use pure and clean ingredients.  

In terms of improvements, it would be helpful if the seminars did not overlap with the one-on-one sessions.  There was so much valuable information presented in the seminars and I hated to miss the opportunity to learn from the speakers. 

Q. What is the lack of Korean Exhibitors? How to improve the weak point ?

A. As the Greater Dallas Korean American Chamber builds on the event and begins to make good connections for brands with US buyers and partners, participation will naturally grow. Every new expo takes years to grow.  I’d like to see the Chamber distribute some of the seminar recordings to associations throughout South Korea as a “sorry you missed it” type announcement.  When the association members realize the value, they will want to attend future Chamber events.

Q. What impressed you at a 1:1 business meeting? What did you get to know about Korean companies or Korean products during the meeting?

A. Advanced skin care products. Korea’s history and recent advancements in skin care ingredients and technology are impressive.  The pandemic does not allow for in-person opportunities to showcase products, but with hope in sight for in-person meetings and global interest in K Beauty practices, I believe there is a huge opportunity for Korean brands.  

Q. How do you evaluate the preparedness of Korean Exhibitors for 1:1 business meetings with US buyers?

A. About half and half.  I could certainly tell the brands that had done business in the US.  Translation and communication is key no matter what country you do business.

Q. Do you think Korean small and medium-sized products are competitive in the U.S. market?

A. Absolutely. They need to conduct more market research to test US consumers in their brands . 

Q. What do you think Korean companies need to prepare and reinforce to be successful in the U.S.?

A. In the expo’s opening session, Walgreen’s stated that retailers are now requiring brands to demonstrate consumer interest.  There is nothing to lose in putting your product on some e-commerce platform and drop shipping for a while to gain brand recognition. While drop shipping, launch your own social media and direct traffic to the e-commerce site.  Consider it market research and, if successful,  the information you can later show at retail buyer meetings.

Q. I understand You had consecutive 1:1 meetings in a short time, are there any products and exhibitors that give you the most impressive of them all?

A. Yes, there are several companies that I plan to meet with next week and explore options for finding US strategic partners.   I have also identified about 5 -7 companies that are a perfect fit for K-Brands.US (https://k-brands.us/), a new e-commerce site.  I have been asked to assist K-Brands.US in driving traffic to their new site.  This excites me since I see so much opportunity with K beauty products.

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