The launch came at a time when Australian-made products have been gaining popularity in Singapore. The Southeast Asian country is Australia’s largest trade and investment partner in the region, making it a strong base market for Australian businesses to expand their reach in Southeast Asia or even broader Asia.
Besides, Australian-made beauty and skincare have a reputation in the Asian market for their quality ingredients.
“Australia has such a botanically diverse ingredient offering for the beauty industry,” said Iris Smit, founder of The Quick Flick. “The country’s Therapeutic Goods Administration regulations also have a globally recognised reputation for being the strictest in regards to having suncare produce approved.”
“For these reasons, making The Quick Flick products available in the Singaporean market was a natural fit, as local consumers are discerning in their beauty purchases and on the lookout for innovation – which is a gap we knew we could fill with our products.”
Challenges to capturing the market
But it wasn’t easy for the Australian entrepreneur. “Entering a new geographical market feels like starting from scratch,” Smit said.
Without existing brand awareness, it takes time and patience to build the same consumer trust that the brand has with customers in the Australian market, she said.
“I have found that using local content creators is a worthwhile investment to generate brand awareness in a way that is genuine to the local market and consumers – copying and pasting from marketing and advertising strategies in different countries is not a feasible way to break into a new market.”
Smit also pointed out that, when entering new markets, brands need to position their products differently and focus on certain unique selling points over others.
“For example, we are focusing on using buzz terms such as ‘glass skin’ within the Asia market for our ‘skin screen’ products, the fact that they are SPF 50+ is a secondary bonus to the local consumer,” she said.
According to The US International Trade Administration, long-term trends that have been driving cosmetics market growth in Singapore include greater awareness of “clean beauty” or natural and organic products that are ethical and sustainable. There is also keen interest in products with Asian ingredients which have enabled Korean and other Asian skincare brands to gain market share.
“There’s no one currently doing exactly what we are doing in terms of beauty and skincare that solves real problems via products that are multi-purpose, quick and easy to use,” Smit said.
“We certainly have competitors within some of our categories, though not specifically as a brand. We were lucky to have our patent approved for our eyeliner stamps not long after our launch, which has certainly helped keep competitors at bay.”
From small business to million-dollar brand
While known for starting a beauty business – and as a young entrepreneur declining a $300,000 deal on Shark Tank Australia soon afterwards – few people know that Smit began coding websites at the age of 14 and launched a store selling vintage clothing on Etsy two year later. She studied for a Bachelor of Science in Interior Architecture before starting The Quick Flick in 2017.
A few months after her Shark Tank appearance in 2018, the company reported “hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue” generated monthly from its signature eyeliner products.
“From a business perspective, in the early days dealing with the unexpected growing pains after my Shark Tank appearance was very difficult,” Smit said.
“The business essentially blew up overnight, and it was a real struggle to quickly implement the appropriate systems and hire the right staff members to support such a fast and high level of growth.”
Like many startups and businesses in Australia, The Quick Flick was also struggling to navigate the Covid-19 lockdowns when many of its retail partners were forced to shut their doors and customer preferences changed. Despite the boom in e-commerce, the retailer faced a more competitive landscape in the beauty industry as more brands moved online.
“The result of this shift has been rising costs of advertising across online platforms, and it became increasingly challenging for brands to get in front of consumers in the ways they did before.
“Growing too rapidly can cause you to crumble just as quickly as shortcuts are often taken, strong systems aren’t properly laid out, rush hires happen and overspending can quickly add up. Building a solid business does take time and patience. It’s about enjoying the process as much as the destination. Patience always equals profit,” she explains.
“From a personal perspective, trusting myself and my business instincts as a young, female business owner has been a mental challenge I have needed to navigate to keep the business progressing and scaling.”
To diversify its offerings and secure a larger customer base, The Quick Flick has added more beauty items to its collections, including a makeup eraser pen and 2-in-1 eyeliner and a lash-adhesive pen. Most recently, the brand has expanded into the ‘skin screen’ category, with the launch of two SPF 50+ skincare products late last year.
After the successful launch of The Quick Flick, Smit also started a second brand dubbed ‘Beauty Fridge’, which saw sales worth “in the millions”.
“Although we began as and are predominantly an eye category brand, our focus is definitely to expand into other lines,” Smit said.
“We’re looking to explore the brow and lip category more while building our current eyeliner range into pencil liners. Mascara is also currently in production and set to launch next year.”
The Quick Flick made its first international foray into the US, followed by the UK and Germany. The brand recently expanded into the UAE with retailer Boutiqaat, and Pakistan with retailer Vegas. Now it is out to conquer Singapore.