South Korean hair care: Natural ingredients and innovation driving sector growth

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

The South Korean haircare market is continuing to see dynamic growth underpinned by the natural trend and the South Korean consumer’s willingness to experiment with new innovations.
The South Korean haircare market is continuing to see dynamic growth underpinned by the natural trend and the South Korean consumer’s willingness to experiment with new innovations.
The South Korean haircare market is continuing to see dynamic growth underpinned by the natural trend and the South Korean consumer’s willingness to experiment with new innovations.

According to GlobalData research, the South Korean hair care market, not including the professional sector, is expected to grow at a rate of 2.3% from 2017 to 2022.

Natural products and innovative ideas

Like in other sectors, the natural and organic trend continues to remain an overarching trend, said Sumit Chopra, director of research and analysis.

Speaking at in-cosmetics Korea this year, he added that the trend continued to persist because of the focus on healthcare and the perception that natural and organic products have health benefits.

“Our consumer survey showed that slightly more than 50% reported that health is a key issue when it comes to purchasing for cosmetics and toiletries. So natural and organic products will continue to be something consumers feel connected to.”

While there is a perception that natural and organic products are more premium, Chopra believes a higher price will not deter the South Korean consumer.

“About 45% of Korean consumers indicated that because it is related to health, they are willing to pay slightly more for better quality, better formulation. They are willing to upgrade for a natural formulation.”

However, having natural or organic ingredients is not enough, especially in a market that is used to seeing new beauty innovations frequently.

“South Koreans are willing to experiment in this category. They are looking for things that are unique. Experiential South Korean women are on the lookout for novel solutions specifically in hair care, such as new textures and colour combinations, and those offering experimental looks,” ​said Chopra.

Manufacturers are increasing combining the trends and launching novel and innovative products such as Kocostar’s Luster Hair Capsule Mask that contains essential oils and is presented as capsules within a resealable bag.

The demand for innovation also gives way for more high-tech hair care advancements such as the smart brush from Kérastase and Withings.

The smart brush gives users information on hair quality and brushing patterns while offering personalised tips and Kérastase product recommendations.

Evolution of hair care regime

The introduction of new products has caused a shift from traditional to more sophisticated hair care regime.

“The evolution of the industry from a product stand point has been massive. From a traditional shampoo, condition, style routine, the consumer now has options like masks, serums and pre-shampoos,” ​said Chopra.

He believes that the ‘multi-step hair care routine’ is partly driven by the popularity of K-beauty’s multi-step skin care regimen.

However, that the extra steps may even put off increasingly time-poor consumers, he said.

“Consumers with less time want products that are easy to use but provide similar benefit to professional services you get at salons. This is why there is a need for multifunctional products, which is consistently brought up during consumer surveys.”

Chopra added that consumers may be confused by new products, giving beauty companies and brands an opportunity to engage with consumers.

“With a simple QR code on packaging, brands can show consumers how to effectively use the product. It can also be used as a way to educate consumers on how ingredients are sourced,” ​he suggested.

This is a good way to connect and engage with consumers. It helps raise brand loyalty and provides extra value. We are already seeing it in other sectors like in food, but it has not reached personal care.”

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