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Nine Under-the-Radar Brands Crushing It on Amazon

Published March 31, 2024
Published March 31, 2024
Market Defense

Amazon is deeply entrenched in consumers' lives, forever changing how they shop. In 2018, the e-commerce giant reached the tipping point in beauty, securing 36% of the US online beauty market, and quietly became the largest online beauty retailer with relatively little brand overlap with Ulta and Sephora because, at this juncture, it felt antithetical to the business of prestige beauty.

Last year Morgan Stanley projected that Amazon would become the biggest player in beauty, overtaking Walmart by 2025. Analysts led by Simeon Gutman wrote in a research note that the e-commerce behemoth will own about 14.5% of the market, representing a potential $180 billion in value by 2025, followed by Walmart with about 13%. This has made Amazon a go-to destination for established beauty brands across categories, but it has also become fertile ground for lesser-known businesses that have become blockbuster Amazon success stories.

The team at Market Defense, a global marketplace services agency that represents brands on major marketplaces and provides business intelligence in China, Europe, and North America, unearthed nine beauty brands that are crushing it on Amazon. Learn how these brands are driving sales and gaining market share.

1. Ulike – Removing the Middleman

Ulike is a brand created by a Chinese manufacturer that has been selling at-home IPL hair removal devices. Ulike is the definition of a “sleeper brand,” with exclusive US distribution on Amazon and seven products that have sold over 4 million units in 17 countries over the last decade.

The Winning Formula: Unlike most "brands" created by Chinese manufacturers, Ulike leverages design, efficacy, and a luxury positioning with prices for its devices ranging from $299-$349. The experience on Amazon could compete in content and design with well-known prestige beauty brands.

The Data: 

  • 1,800% 12-month growth estimate.. 
  • 47.1% market share of "light hair removal devices."
  • Chinese sellers comprise over 63% of all third-party sellers on Amazon. By comparison, third-party sellers from the US make up 34.8%.

Amazon Intelligence: Amazon courts Chinese sellers to get close to Chinese factories, enabling the flattest supply chain possible, which removes the middleman markups and provides customers with the lowest-priced products possible. While encouraging the innovative products and low MSRPs that Chinese sellers bring to the marketplace, Amazon is also expanding its efforts to combat fake reviews, counterfeit products, intentionally confusing dupes, and sabotaging competitors. Amazon consumers in the US are also learning to investigate these sellers closely, reading reviews and sharing feedback on Reddit threads.

Market Defense Insight: Brandon Pemberton, President, Market Defense, said, "Ulike has successfully branded itself in a crowded category dominated by manufacturer-owned brands. Its branding has the look and feel of a higher-end product, but its price points are lower than better-known brands in the hair removal category. By building a strong review base of many high-rated reviews, Ulike answers consumers’ questions about value relative to competitors like Braun and other brands they likely have never heard of."

2. Lattafa Perfumes – Social Media Direct-to-Amazon

Based in the United Arab Emirates, Lattafa Perfumes was launched in 1992 by Mr. Sheikh Shahid Ahmad and co-founder Mr. Shoaib Iqbal, and claims to be Dubai's leading "premium luxury perfumery of authentic Arabic fragrance." Through a portfolio of seven brands, the business appeals to the global consumers it serves in over 61 countries with wide distribution across the GCC and the US.

The Winning Formula: Lattafa Perfumes has achieved meteoric growth on Amazon driven by Arabic fragrance trending on TikTok. This brand is evidence that you can build a social media direct-to-Amazon through social media entirely, even unintentionally.

The Data: 

  • 1,424% estimated 12-month growth.
  • With over 400 million TikTok views, #ArabicPerfume is having a viral moment.
  • The hashtag #Lattafa has nearly 251 million views, and the hashtag for its best-selling Yara perfume, #LattafaYara, has 56.5 million views.
  • In February, Spate search data shows “Arabian perfume” received 25,000 average monthly searches, up 159% from last year, and “Arabian perfume oil” received 7,000 monthly searches, up 292.3% from last year.

Amazon Intelligence: Lattafa Perfumes is currently being sold by 50+ resellers, resulting in a messy consumer experience on the marketplace. With no clear authentic seller, consumers are left to rely on reviews, which rave about the fragrance itself but are mixed as it relates to the sellers. Most of the brand's negative reviews refer to customer experience: receiving open product, questionable packaging, etc. If the brand streamlined its resellers and got rid of those selling poor-quality products, it would convert a greater number of searches into return customers. If Lattafa doesn’t take a more active role in managing resellers, they run the risk of customers being turned off by the poor customer experience and choosing another fragrance.

Market Defense Insight: Shelley Swallow, VP Brand Protection, Market Defense, said, “Brands with wide distribution who want to succeed on Amazon need to ensure that their contracts with their international partners restrict selling on third-party platforms, not just Amazon. If the brands are using wholesale partners here in the US to help manage their distribution, the brand needs to make sure their partners are distributing the brand's MAP policies and terms and conditions to retailers to ensure that their products do not end up on third-party platforms.”

3. Mielle Organics – Influencer-Inspired Virality

Born in the kitchen of Monique Rodriguez in 2014. Mielle Organics began on the back of one product, the Almond Mint Oil, and a belief that natural ingredients are the way to healthier hair. They capitalized on a white space for consciously created textured hair products.

The Winning Formula: When mega influencer Alix Earle mentioned that P&G acquired the brand in 2022, it shot the brand’s hero Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil to the #1 spot on Amazon’s Top 25 Beauty and Personal Care Product list, kick-starting Mielle's Amazon success.

The Data:

  • One year after their first #1 Amazon beauty spot, the hero product now has 75K 4.5 star reviews, and 100K units are sold every month on Amazon.
  • The rest of their assortment has also become Amazon bestsellers; their Rosemary Strengthening Shampoo is ranked the #2 Hair Shampoo on Amazon, trailing Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.

Amazon Intelligence: Mielle was positioned to capture the momentum from their Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil going viral on TikTok in the fourth quarter of 2022, and has managed to prolong that success well beyond their viral moment and extend momentum to other SKUs in their Amazon assortment. Strong and plentiful customer reviews (their average product rating is 4.48, the highest of any brand included on this list) are an obvious contributor to this success, but the brand’s management of its Amazon presence has also driven results. Over 90% of Mielle’s sales on Amazon come from the brand’s storefront despite there being, on average, 14.4 sellers competing for the buy box on their products. This consolidation of sales via the brand’s storefront has likely been driven by an effective strategy that utilizes Amazon’s on-platform marketing tools.

Market Defense Insight: Mielle’s success on Amazon is a case study on the power and speed of having a product go viral on TikTok. According to Tinuiti, 26% of all beauty shoppers are discovering new products on TikTok, and, among Gen Z consumers, that statistic rises to 48%.

“The days of throwing something up on Amazon and it selling millions overnight are behind us; brands have to invest in a strategy that gives their products awareness, momentum, and conversion,” says Vanessa Kuykendall, COO of Market Defense. “The customer journey often starts on social media now, so investing in a TikTok campaign and aligning that with their other social channels and editorial placements can give brands a strong awareness push. Then brands need to invest in expanded content, images, and persuasive sell copy on Amazon to get customers across the finish line.”

4. ZO Skin Health – Satiating the Hunger for Clinical Skincare

Before Dr. Zein Obagi started ZO Skin Health, he was seeing patients in his practice; he was treating their skin, fixing it, then sending them on their way. However, with limited options for at-home skincare, they would be back in his practice a year later to fix the same problems. Dr. Obagi wanted to provide product and protocol solutions to his patients that would allow them to maintain and enhance the results of their procedure. In 2007, he launched ZO Skin Health.

The Winning Formula: With the popularity of clinical skincare on the rise and ever-knowledgable consumers searching for active ingredients as part of their product research and discovery process, the expertise of a legendary dermatologist is a strong selling point for the brand.

The Data: 

  • #1 ASIN Exfoliating Polish is ranked #2 in facial polishes. 
  • Once exclusive to physicians, ZO rolled out to select day and resort spas, always retaining close ties to medical professionals.
  • Now ZO Skin is available in 100 countries worldwide, driving awareness beyond doctor’s offices, including 416K+ followers on IG.
  • Amazon consumers are hungry for clinical skincare; searches for clinical ingredients are growing, thus driving new interest in legacy skincare brands. In the last 12 months there were 304K searches for tretinoin +33%, 203K searches for retinol +62%, and 203K for niacinamide +59%.   
  • Currently 70+ resellers are fighting for ZO Skin Health sales, encouraging discounting to win the buy box.

Amazon Intelligence: With increased interest in clinical skincare on Amazon and in the Zo Skin Health brand in particular, rogue resellers appear to be taking advantage of the demand in a practice called retail arbitrage, which entails purchasing product from an authorized source and reselling them on the marketplace. Retail arbitrage is legal. According to the first-sale doctrine, once you purchase a product legally, you then have the right to resell that product, as long as it is sold in an unchanged condition.

Market Defense Insight: Despite all of the success ZO Skin Health has had tapping into the clinical skincare trend on Amazon, the brand’s positioning on Amazon has been challenged by the proliferation of product resellers. Shelley Swallow, VP Brand Protection, Market Defense, said ”Buy-box ownership is one of the major keys to success on Amazon. Allowing retailers and authorized partners to sell your products without restrictions will cause buy-box erosion and the brand will be in constant competition with resellers on their listings and will be dealing with Buy-box suppression due to retailers discounting on other third-party platforms. A solid brand protection foundation and control of your supply chain will guarantee success on Amazon.”

5. Terez & Honor – Riding a Trend to #1

The Winning Formula: The business is laser focused on hero products with marketing that emphasizes natural and safe ingredients. With this strategy, they’ve quietly overtaken 400+ brands in the lash enhancement category to become Amazon’s top seller.

The Data: 

  • #1 in Lash Enhancers, beating out #2 Grande Lash and legacy brands, Revitalash, and Neulash, by focusing on a natural-ingredient positioning.
  • Own 7.3% of Amazon market share of the Lash Enhancers & Primers category. This category is worth approximately $12 million a month in sales.
  • 4,700 global 5-star reviews mostly praising their natural and safe ingredients, especially the exclusion of prostaglandin, a controversial ingredient that is proven to grow lashes.
  • Also in the scar removal category.

Amazon Intelligence: Terez & Honor has managed to unseat over 400 competitors in the lash category, including legacy brands, by positioning themselves as a “better for you” alternative to products containing controversial ingredients like prostaglandin and other derivative ingredients.

Market Defense Insight: Prostaglandin-free searches are up 300% on Amazon as consumers look for hormone-free serums. Terez & Honor has seemingly come out of nowhere to capitalize on the trend and soar to the top of the lash category on Amazon.

6. DIME: Powerful Word-of-Mouth Marketing and Mommy Bloggers

Founded by master esthetician Baylee Relf and her husband in 2018, DIME is a clean, EWG-VERIFIED skin wellness brand with an ingredient-first approach. DIME offers four skin-conscious product categories: skincare, body care, fragrance, and beauty & wellness.

The Winning Formula: Launched on Amazon in 2021, as interest in clean beauty and clean ingredients grew rapidly during the pandemic. DIME grew through influencer marketing and word of mouth, especially through mommy bloggers and Nashville influencers.

The Data:

  • 315% estimated 12-month growth for the brand.
  • Unique assortment of both skincare & fragrance, their top-selling ASIN is their 7 Summers perfume, a vegan, fruity gourmand scent.
  • Launched in Ulta in January 2024 as part of its Sparked program.

Amazon Intelligence: DIME built awareness for the brand through influencer marketing. They focused on growing word of mouth through Facebook and Instagram and mommy bloggers with a wide array of followings, some with as few as 500 followers to those with over 1 million. The brand built a strong interest among women aged 30 to 55 years old, particularly in the Midwest and Texas.

Market Defense Insight: Dave Karlsven, SVP of Client Marketing & Data Science at Market Defense, said, “DIME Beauty definitely surprised us with how fast they grew their business. Their aggressive influencer marketing strategy was a big part of what led to their success.” For a perfume brand, it’s key to show more than just products. It’s about sharing the brand’s story and the stories behind each scent. Adding visuals, like photo and video galleries or shoppable images, can really draw shoppers in. This not only keeps shoppers interested but also boosts sales and cross-selling.

K-Beauty Storytelling

Korean beauty products have consistently performed well on Amazon. According to Statista, Laneige, the Korean skincare brand, ranked as the top-grossing beauty and personal care brand during Amazon Prime Day in the United States. During Prime Day in 2023, Laneige generated approximately $23.3 million in revenue.

COSRX is the #1 selling Korean brand on Amazon, and #27 overall, and has grown 1,041% in the last 12 months on Amazon. The brand’s success is built on the strength of its hero product, Snail Mucin Power Essence. The top driver of awareness and traffic for K-beauty on Amazon is TikTok.

The Data: 

  • The top hashtag for COSRX, #snailmucin, has 28.5 million weekly views on TikTok.
  • Related K-beauty searches on TikTok continue to grow:
    • #kbeautymakeup +85%
    • #koreansunscreen +59%

Below is a look at three top-selling K-beauty brands on Amazon that are not in major distribution in the US. Many of the brands are under-the-radar at the moment but are positioned to become the COSRX of tomorrow on the platform.


Seoul-based Wishcompany is a content and commerce company that incubates beauty brands all manufactured in Korea. I'M FROM is a cruelty-free brand with products inspired by traditional Korean remedies to help alleviate skin concerns through the use of natural, safe, and effective ingredients.

The Winning Formula: I’M FROM’s branding uses storytelling to connect the product and the natural world by disclosing all product ingredients that are ethically sourced from various regions in Korea. Single-ingredient product formulas add simplicity to marketing.

The Data: 

  • Owns a 4.4% market share of the Facial Toners & Astringents category on Amazon.
  • #1 Rice Toner has a 5.0 perfect score for Value For Money.
  • Search terms driving growth are rice toner, toner, and mugwort essence.
  • The brand has over 4,500 5-star global ratings.
  • Customers are drawn to Korean ingredients in their products, specifically Rice Toner, Mugwort Essence, and the Honey Mask.

8. Round Lab

The K-beauty brand Round Lab is inspired by and encapsulates ingredients from the Korean Peninsula that come to life in three product ranges: 1025 Dokodo exfoliating line, Birch Juice moisturizing line, and Mugwort calming line.

The Winning Formula: The brand’s popularity with TikTok influencers has driven awareness, but questions about product authenticity on TikTok Shop have driven customers to Amazon, which remains the preferred shopping channel for the majority of consumers.

The Data:

  • 871% estimated 12-month growth for the brand. 
  • Birch Juice Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF50+ is one of the top 10 facial sunscreens sold on Amazon along with legacy names CeraVe, Sun Bum, Supergoop, and another K-beauty up-and-comer SKIN1004.
  • TikTok Shop influencers are selling the product at a discounted price, yet revenue on Amazon continues to grow as it remains the preferred channel for purchasing for the majority of Americans. 
  • TikTok chatter is focused on the challenge of identifying authentic Round Lab products on social shopping; consumers are still feeling uneasy about the authenticity of products on TikTok Shop.

9. Medicube

Positioned as a dermocosmetic, the brand collaborates with dermatologists on all product development. Medicube appeals to consumers looking for a derm-like experience and treatments at home by incorporating technology into the skincare experience.

The Winning Formula: Tech meets beauty. The brand tapped Hollywood celebrities as influencers, including Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh and Hailey Bieber, to drive awareness in the US.

The Data: 

  • 4th best-selling K-beauty brand on Amazon behind COSRX, Anua, and Peripera.
  • 599% estimated 12-month growth for the brand. 
  • 50%+ of sales come from Age-R Booster H treatment device—a facial treatment. device with multiple modalities including microcurrent, LED therapy, and vibration.
  • Traffic to Amazon driven by 3.8 million TikTok views of #skincaredevice.