Untapped potential: Why vast opportunities abound for K-beauty brands in US skin care market

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

New research shows that 47% of US beauty consumers have yet to tried K-beauty skin care products, opening plenty of opportunities for South Korean brands to capitalise on. ©GettyImages
New research shows that 47% of US beauty consumers have yet to tried K-beauty skin care products, opening plenty of opportunities for South Korean brands to capitalise on. ©GettyImages
New research shows that 47% of US beauty consumers have yet to tried K-beauty skin care products, opening plenty of opportunities for South Korean brands to capitalise on.

In June 2019, US-based firm The Benchmarking Company conducted a quantitative primary research study with more than 5,700 US female beauty consumers.

High interest in K-beauty

Denise Herich, co-founder and managing partner of The Benchmarking Company, said the research revealed that US beauty consumers are curious about K-beauty.

“She wants to learn more about facial peels, brightening treatments, devices, sleeping masks and lip treatments. These are products that are not popular but have strong interest. This is where the opportunity is for Korean brands.”

For instance, she elaborated, only 15% of beauty consumers are using sleeping masks in the US but 72% reported an interest in trying the product.

According to the research, 46% said they have yet to jump on the K-beauty bandwagon is because they are not sure where to find them.

The majority of consumers that do tend to purchase K-beauty products online.

“Amazon is the number one place US women buy K-beauty products from, 54% will buy them there. 27% of them are buying from K-beauty curated websites. Soko Glam is number one, 30% said it was their favourite, followed by Glow Recipe and Peach & Lily at 26% and 21%,” ​said Herich.

36% of non-buyers they did not know enough about K-beauty brands and that they “all seem the same”.

“That’s a real problem. There are so many K-beauty products now, everybody offers somewhat of the same things, they need differentiation. It's an education issue. Tell her what sets your brand apart from others and why is K-beauty superior to the products she is already using.” ​said Herich.

Herich highlighted that only 5% of non-buyers said they were turned off by the multistep regimen and 3% said it was confusing.

"You hear that Americans won’t go through all the steps, but they will if it is easily understandable and they know how to use them. When we asked them if they would spend more time if they could be assured of much better skin results, 99% said yes.”

She added that brands can take a leaf from K-beauty curated sites which offer helpful guides that inform them of the ingredients and teach them how to use the products.

Great expectations

According to Herich, US beauty consumers associate K-beauty with innovation. 46% of consumers expect K-beauty brands to be highly innovative and 37% expect the latest technology in formulations.

Additionally, 34% of consumers are looking for K-beauty product that are made with natural and organic ingredients while 32% expect the products to be fun.

“She’s eager to try new products –be on the forefront of innovation and that includes the packaging –she expects it to be fun. The innovation factor is what she’s looking for in new products,” ​said Herich.

Herich added it was important to showcase claims to consumers. Among 47% of K-beauty consumers said they use K-beauty products because they aspire to get “glowing, beautiful skin like women from Korea”.

According to the research, consumers are looking for claims that are related to flawless skin such as: ‘create poreless skin’, ‘improves skin clarity’, ‘leaves skin health and fresh’ and ‘leaves women feeling confident with no make-up look’.

 “Speak to her in language that excites her to buy. She wants to see great consumer claims to tout your products benefits and compel her to buy. She will not buy these products unless they have good reviews already. Reviews and claims for anti-ageing, innovation, brightening – she wants to hear all of that,” ​she concluded.

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