Start using the ‘cushion format’ or lose out in Korea, beauty brands warned

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Start using the ‘cushion format’ or lose out in Korea, beauty brands warned

Related tags Cosmetics Euromonitor international

Global brands looking to tap into South Korea’s explosive beauty market growth are missing a trick in failing to use a cushion format in facial make-up products, Euromonitor International has stated.

The ‘cushion format’ describes the presentation of powders, foundations and alphabet creams in an aerated format with a sponge applicator, in packaging reminiscent of a compact powder case rather than tubes or bottles.

In a recently released market report, the research firm’s analysts note that relying on products without the cushion format was the ‘main reason’ behind a weak performance in 2013 for some international brands.  

What is ‘air cushion’?

Iope 'cushion format' foundation

Originally launched in 2008 by Korean beauty brand Iope, it has taken a few years for the cushion format’s popularity to take hold; but according to Euromonitor, it is now exploding.

Minji Kim, research analyst, notes that it has “recently become the biggest trend in facial make up in skin care, after the huge sensation created by BB creams: thanks to the air cushion, sales value of colour cosmetics grew by 11% in 2013​.”

There are three major reasons behind the format’s success, Kim suggests. These are that it taps into the multifunction trend; it offers “good coverage yet feels light on the skin​” -  important in Korea’s hot, humid summers; and it creates a natural look, in line with current trends in the country.

A gathering boom

AmorePacific Corp took the largest value share in colour cosmetics with 27% in 2013, Euromonitor notes, increasing its value sales by 18% in large part thanks to the strong performance of its brand Iope, which pioneered and continues to lead in the cushion format.

All signs now point to this trend continuing to gather momentum, Euromonitor predicts.

The ‘other facial make-up’ category, which includes the products in cushion format and CC creams, is predicted to grow by a particularly robust CAGR of 18% in constant value terms, outstripping the wider category’s 8% predicted growth.  

As the trend grows, Euromonitor expects it to start reaching overseas, starting off in Singapore and Hong Kong. 

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