Forever young? Seniors a promising demographic for K-beauty makeup: Study

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

'The demand for cosmetics for the elderly is likely to keep rising', finds study from Korea
'The demand for cosmetics for the elderly is likely to keep rising', finds study from Korea

Related tags: K-Beauty, seniors, Baby boomer, Makeup

Brands looking to expand or launch into the Korean beauty market must consider baby boomers; a rising demographic interested in looking younger and seeking effective yet simple makeup, a study finds.

Writing in the Journal of Consumer Behaviour​, a researcher from the Jeonghwa Arts College in Korea investigated the perception and attitudes towards makeup among baby boomers or ‘new seniors’ in Korea – consumers now aged 55-75 years. The research, funded by the national Research Foundation of Korea, involved in-depth interviews and participant observation via video connection, looking to determine effective strategies to approach this demographic with makeup and associated marketing.

Aggressive makeup marketing for new seniors

“With the rapid ageing of the world population and the tendency to focus on appearances, the demand for cosmetics for the elderly is likely to keep rising,”​ the researcher Baek wrote in the study.

And many international brands were already targeting this generation, with the likes of CoverGirl, L’Oréal, Mac and Shu Uemura among some of the bigger companies working with older but high-profile celebrities and models. Japanese major Shisheido had even developed makeup products specialised for the elderly generation, according to the study.

“Why are these world-class cosmetics brands aggressively marketing their products to the seniors? The reason is that the baby boomers have recently become a new consumer group, joining the economic power of the middle and older generation worldwide,”​ Baek said. “Relevant industries are already focusing on developing products for them, and this trend involves the cosmetics industry as well.”

In Korea, the baby boomer generation was also spending more on cosmetics – an important consideration when looking at opportunities, Baek wrote.

Bringing joy to a social burden through tailored makeup

However, findings showed most female Korean baby boomers considered makeup “an obligation rather than for enjoyment”.​ Companies that developed products to offload this feeling of burden and bring joy, therefore, would likely succeed, Baek said.

“The results showed that new seniors had a prejudice against makeup in the elderly, their generation did not enjoy using makeup, and they tend to wear makeup to look younger rather than prettier.”

Base products and lipstick were considered essential and companies therefore had to consider offering various combinations that stimulated desire among baby boomers, the study said.

However, the study found this demographic also needed “makeup education” – ​an aspect that ought to be considered.

“They need training in how to apply makeup and use products that meet their needs, are easy to use, and produce effects that stand out. …For this generation, the current cosmetics market is too complicated and difficult given the names of the products. Without explanations about products, it is unlikely that they make any purchases.”

Effective marketing strategies targeting Korean baby boomers, therefore, had to include makeup technique training, particularly on how to apply makeup to achieve a more youthful look, the study noted.

Baek said that whilst this remained a small study, only focused on female baby boomers, it provided “valuable basic data”​ on marketing targeting the Korean elderly market. Further research would be needed to help develop effective and realistic makeup education programs for this group.

Source: Journal of Consumer Behaviour
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/cb.1801
Title: “The perception of makeup for the elderly and the makeup behavior of new seniors”
Author: KJ. Baek

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