Why K-beauty make-up brands may be losing the trust of Singaporeans

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

South Korean make-up brands may be losing their lustre with Singaporean beauty consumers. ©GettyImages
South Korean make-up brands may be losing their lustre with Singaporean beauty consumers. ©GettyImages

Related tags: K-Beauty, Singapore, trends

South Korean make-up brands may be losing their lustre with Singaporean beauty consumers, with Western outfits taking over when it comes to trust.

K-beauty colour cosmetic brands, which usually secure top ranking in an annual consumer trust survey undertaken by Daily Vanity, are being beaten by western brands including Benefit, MAC Cosmetics, NARS and Urban Decay.

US make-up brand It Cosmetics rose 57 places to cinch the top spot as the most trusted make-up brand in the country.

Korean make-up brands that remained in the top 10 ranking were Innisfree, Laneige and Etude House, which took fourth, sixth and seventh place respectively.

COO and editorial director of Daily Vanity, Kristen Juliet Soh, attributed this decline to the inadequacies of some South Korean make-up products.

“The problem [with K-beauty make-up products] is that they have some shortcomings and consumers are picking up them. The most obvious is lack of colour variety for base products especially. South Korean is very homogenous in terms of skin tones so it is not very uncommon to see a foundation only offer two or three shades. But in SEA, including Singapore, there are a wide range of skin tones,” ​explained Soh.

Soh stressed that the K-wave still has a considerable amount of influence on trends, including make-up.

“Popularity of K-wave has really put K-beauty trends in the spotlight. In the last couple of years, people have been trying to re-create these make-up looks from Korean celebrities.”

However, consumers no longer need buy K-beauty make-up in order to achieve a look inspired by a Korean celebrity, she added.

 Soh believes K-beauty brands have noticed this trend and trying to adapt to it.

“Last year, Innisfree launched a customisable liquid foundation collection. Through this customisation process, you can choose shade, moisture level and coverage. They are now offering 10 shades in SEA, a wider range compared to South Korea. Even though it’s still a far cry from what some other brands are doing.”

Skin care still tops

Conversely, the research into skin care found that K-beauty is still dominating in Singapore.

“Consumers still look to Korean idols in this department and consumers believe Asian products can address Asian-specific skin concerns. Korean skin care is very innovative, it gave us the sleeping mask category and made ingredients like cica popular. After all, people are always looking for new solutions.”

The report also observed an upward trend for Asian skin care brands. In the last five years, consumers have showed increasing interest in Asian brands.

In 2015, Asian brands occupied 15 places out of the top 50 brands. In 2019, that number rose to 22. During the same period, western skin care brands dropped from 35 to 28.

Among the top 50 Asian skin care brands, consumers showed a preference for 22 Asian brands compared to 28 Western brands. However, more Asian brands topped the rankings.

Soh elaborated: “While there are still more western brands in the ranking, there are more Asian brands in the top.”

Counting trust

The objective of Daily Vanity’s consumer survey was to provide beauty brands with more in-depth information on their target audience.

Soh pointed out that it was important for brands to note their 'trustworthiness' in the eyes of their consumer.

“Sales is data [brands] already have. [Brand equity] is a bit more intangible. I think a lot of brands are struggling with what that really means. There's also challenge in planning for the future”

She added that it was essential to study the people who are eventually going to become the target audience.

“Let's say your target is people in their 20s, eventually, they are going to move on and a new batch of 20s will come in. If they don't have a sense trust in your products, you will run into trouble in the future. After all you want to build a brand that will last for a long time, not just one that is hot now. It’s important to note how that audience perceive your brand at the moment.”

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