Korean beauty: how to get US consumers to bite

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Korean beauty: how to get US consumers to bite

Related tags Euromonitor international

With the ongoing rise of Korean cosmetics (often dubbed K-beauty) in the global industry, US consumers remain reluctant to embrace the trend fully. Here, CosmeticsDesign takes a look at what brands are doing to make an impact.

Korea has its rapid-paced innovation to thank for becoming one of the “top drivers” for global fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries, according to Euromonitor International, with beauty one of the industries at its forefront.

However, the firm notes that k-beauty brands looking for growth abroad are up against several challenging factors, including a lack of universal appeal and a low level of familiarity among consumers with “products’ ingredients, formats and benefits”.

Shifting the barriers

Various K-beauty brands and influencers are working to shift these barriers, the market firm notes, looking to encourage mid- to long-term continued growth.

Glow Recipe, an online retail channel for Korean beauty, is one such enterprise. It focuses its efforts on ‘educating​’ its US target market on the K-beauty products it retails, and its founders believe they’re making an impact.

Using our expertise, we curate cruelty-free and natural products that have been carefully selected through personal visits, and introduce - basically educating Western consumers - on some of Korea’s innovative and skin-friendly beauty products with detailed descriptions and video demos,​” explain Sarah Lee and Christine Chang in a recent interview with JoongAng Daily.

Tapping into already dominant US trends such as naturals allows the site to situate products in terms with which North American consumers are already comfortable, encouraging them to try something novel from Korea within this.

Multinational influence

The adoption of K-beauty trends by major internationals, most notably BB and CC creams and the air cushion compact format, has driven global consumer awareness of K-beauty.

Although domestic Korean brands are keen to take a greater stake of the international market share (AmorePacific, for example, generated only about 3% of its turnover outside of Asia), it seems for now they need to continue to rely on multinationals building consumer awareness in western markets.

According to Euromonitor International, however, one way domestic brands can start stepping ahead of western multinationals is by positioning themselves as truly innovative market leaders.

“Although K-beauty products will gain better traction in international markets if global brands integrate them into their portfolios, Korean players will need to continue positioning their products as authentic and original innovations in order to fully benefit from growing consumer interest,”​ Ildiko Szalai, senior research analysts, explained in a recent white paper.

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