The country is becoming a key exporter to China as Korean brands are proving to be better able to respond to the fast changing demand than most international companies.
China's inbound shipments of cosmetics totaled six-hundred-86 million U.S. dollars in the first quarter of this year. Of that, 19 per cent or one-hundred-31 million dollars worth came from Korea.
According to South Korea’s customs office, cosmetic exports rose by 50% to US$1.92 bn, exceeding imports of USD 0.99 bn after experiencing a bad spell where consumers preferred established imported brands from the US, France and Japan.
Key destinations included China, Hong Kong, Japan, the U.S. and Southeast Asian countries. Other Asian countries, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and elsewhere (excluding the U.S.) made up the rest of the top ten export destinations list.
As domestic markets inch closer to saturation, numerous Korean brands have really started to recognize their own R&D and manufacturing capabilities, which is transforming how “Made in Korea” products are viewed.
South Korea is increasingly a new focal market for industry professionals, as it is arguably one of the most innovative personal care markets in the APAC region, with sales of cosmetics and toiletries growing by 9.1 per cent in 2012.
The main driver behind the growth in exports is twofold: the number of countries importing South Korean beauty goods is increasing, while the price of the individual products is also on the rise.
“Korea is Asia’s third largest cosmetics market and has been growing steadily since 2009. As home to more than 1,500 cosmetic manufacturers and the world’s highest spenders per capita in the field of skincare and male grooming products, it offers a huge opportunity,” says Lucy Gillam, director at Reed Exhibitions.