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Projections for future K-beauty evolution in the US part II: Innovators leverage digital and societal influences

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Projections for K-beauty in the US

Related tags Global skincare analyst Brand South korea Brand management

After exploring how new experiences are set to dominate K-beauty in the US, we spoke to David Tyrrell, Global Skincare Analyst, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel about how innovations using social media, cultural influences and educational messages are impacting Korean beauty buyers in the US. 

Cultural labels

E-commerce Korean beauty retailers in the US such as Glow Recipe, Peach & Lilly and Soko Glam “early on understood the importance of tailoring the K-Beauty storyline to be culturally aware and responsive to the US consumer's beauty routine”, ​David Tyrrell, Global Skincare Analyst, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel revealed.

“K-Beauty must cater to the cultural preferences of its subscribers in order to evolve,”​ market research company, Mintel reveals. This will often consist of constant engagement, dialogue, and its vitality or newness, which are crucial indicators of success.

Enhancing social activities

Younger US consumers are connected on social networks and class it as a daily activity. This is one example of ‘Americanesque’ features. These brands are interested in trialling new products and showcase them to friends and connections on Instagram and social media. The experience of sharing and engagement still relates to an on-the-go lifestyle. “Product-use demonstrations that can be shown off on Instagram will have a decided advantage,”​ Tyrrell highlighted.

“Blithe Patting Splash Mask is a great Americanesque example”​, Tyrrell expressed. “The product fits seamlessly into the short US skincare routine, offers a different and creative way to re-invigorate the skin and senses in the shower, and takes just 15 seconds to experience,”​ he added.

The ongoing K-Beauty trend is synonymous with a natural image. With natural and organic ingredients proving strong in global markets, both US and South Korean consumers are strongly interested in natural and organic ingredients, along with product safety. 

Main opportunity 

As AmorePacific's first Innisfree store in New York City will open in September, the industry anticipates “an enthusiastic response by US millennials”​. Tyrrell comments that the Innisfree brand “aligns well with the natural ecological interests by US younger generations, enhanced by the brand's creative packaging and high quality, reasonably priced products”.

In the next few years, Tyrrell tips K-beauty, which is now available across different retail channels, will have the possibility to become 'mainstream' in the US. Greater exposure and sales via introductions into the mass market and pharmacy sectors will engage specialty retailers and department stores.

“K-Beauty products can even be positioned to a US older consumer who more often shops mass retailers for beauty products,”​ added Tyrrell.

The trend is now evolving, with K-beauty expected to “gain more social media micro-influencers touting the 'coolness' and 'fun' of each K-Beauty product experience”,​ enthused Tyrrell.

Educating consumers about K-beauty

However, in the US, Tyrrell emphasises that “most consumers don't understand the particulars of K-Beauty”​, and so education and information is needed to encourage reach, connection, and loyalty.

US-based W2Beauty, which describes itself as the first Korean social media network​, provides K-beauty news and offers on more than 7,000 Korean beauty products from indie and established brands.

As more and more brands plan to communicate the value of K-Beauty to consumers, this comes with the risk of “counterfeiting and the dilution of the overall 'K-Beauty brand'”. To prevent this from taking hold, “brands will need to be vigilant to ensure high product quality to maintain brand respectability”.

Competitive innovations

Speaking with David Tyrrell about whether innovations are still coming from Korea, or if the US set to surpass it in the creative stakes, he said that smaller South Korean brands will continue to develop their US presence. Growing western markets are expected to be their focus to avoid competing with established, well-financed companies in South Korea.

However, the rise in the number of K-Beauty brands will raise competitive challenges for regional cosmetic brands. As a result, this will help to lift the presence of multinational brands.

“K-Beauty pioneers in the US such as Dr. Jart+, TonyMoly and Too Cool for School are expected to continue to bring forth new innovations to an eager US consumer excited about trying out their new products,”​ Tyrrell relayed.

Describing how K-beauty brands must behave and characterise their brand activity in order to be successful, Tyrrell concluded that prosperous brands will be those that “entertain, and also serve as a compassionate tutor to educate US younger consumers at their pace on K-Beauty ingredients and formula textures”.

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