When it comes to describing K-beauty, “the most common response when asking this question is ‘K-Beauty equates to cute packaging’,” said Fall.
However, its cute packaging seems so synonymous with Korea and the K-beauty trend that other nations cannot replicate its success with their own interpretation of fun cosmetics.
From consumer research carried out in Thailand by Asian Consumer Intelligence, Nicole Fall, the founder, states it becomes clear that K-Beauty is “not as influential in Thailand as in other neighbouring markets”.
Knowing the consumer
Compared to international competition, Korean brands aren’t afraid to stand out from the crowd: “Some Korean brands specialise in mass market and value segments but what generally differentiates them is that they aren’t afraid to utilise fun or feminine packaging, or turn to cute characters, animal symbols and semiotics to convey a sense of novelty”.
Korea’s unique appeal in the beauty and cosmetics industry is based on its innovation and understanding of what appeals to its consumers: “Whimsical or quirky packaging is a great way to stand out as a brand when each is vying with a dozen others on drugstore shelves,” added Fall.
What makes Korean cosmetics brands and products so popular and continues to be interesting would not fit with other countries’ styles or messaging: “Many western brands would feel whimsical packaging devalues brand legacy and would perceive a princess icon on their packs as a step too far,” highlighted Fall.
“Korean manufacturers take a different approach and give younger consumers what they want, fun packaging and affordable beauty products that work yet don’t take themselves too seriously,” she went on to say.
Face mask innovation
As face masks remain popular in Korea, it is one trend that shares the limelight in both the country and the wider Asia-Pacific market. Fall emphasised that these “are one of the few categories that seem to be quite innovative and that are still developing”.
Arguably, Fall states that the appeal of face masks comes from the trend’s problem-solving capabilities, as it focuses on adding an extra one or two steps into consumers’ existing beauty regime rather than changing it completely. It, therefore, attracts consumers through its convenience and ease of adoption, rather than brand value.
“Think of it as needs-based rather than brand-based,” said Fall. “If the consumer has dry skin one day and greasy skin the next, the likelihood that she will change her regular products is low. But by adding a face mask to solve that particular issue, the consumer has more adaptability to regimens.”
Again, in the western market, “facial sheet masks are not as big, where they are seen as a bit of a hassle”. This provides greater opportunity to brands in APAC and “encourage consumption”.
“People easily recognise that these are a step in the skincare regimen that really make a visible, instant difference to the appearance and coupled with the price drop, greater uptake both in a number of people investing and frequency of use is definitely in the future."
Nicole Fall will be speaking at in-cosmetics Asia from 8-10 November in Bangkok.