According to a new report published by the Korean Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), the popularity of Korean beauty products is “increasing day by day”, thanks to the proliferation of the Korean wave, with cultural imports including Korean film, television and music.
The increased interest in Korean skin care and make-up is particularly prevalent among millennial and gen Z consumers.
From 2018 to 2021, Spain’s Korean cosmetic exports have risen sharply over the past four years, recording a growth rate of 48.8% to EUR14.95m (USD15m).
In the first half of 2022, a total of EUR10.81m (USD10.9m) worth of K-beauty products were imported into Spain, a 44.5% growth compared to the same time in the previous year.
While there has been significant growth, the report said the penetration of Korean cosmetics was low compared to other nations. As of now, K-beauty products account for only 1.8% of Spain’s total cosmetic imports.
For comparison, French cosmetic imports account for 38.7%, while Germany and Italy contribute 15.9% and 9.6% respectively.
While K-beauty has a small presence in the market, KOTRA underlined that word-of-mouth is spreading rapidly through social media, fuelling the demand among local consumers.
According to KOTRA’s Madrid Trade Centre, there was a high number of local distributors interested in bringing more K-beauty products into the country.
Beauty opportunities in the Spanish market
However, the report also noted that interest in Korean skin care was waning. It suggested that exporters could explore other beauty and personal care categories to pique the interest of Spanish beauty consumers.
Instead, KOTRA highlighted the nail care category, noting that it has received the “most attention” from Spanish consumers as Korea’s nail care segment is more varied with products such as nail stickers and gel-type polishes.
Such products and trends such as jelly nails, are gaining traction through local media and social media.
In addition, KOTRA has observed that the Spanish market has experienced an increasing demand for at-home skin care devices. This is in line with global self-care trends and the adoption of at-home treatments in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the report, the biggest opportunity for beauty devices lies in the niche luxury skin care segment.
It noted that Korean cosmetic companies can leverage the various technologies already available in the Korean market, such as galvanic and high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) skin treatment devices.
This interest in high-tech beauty has also influenced skin care. Consulting local beauty distributors, the KOTRA report said Spanish beauty consumers were interested in “high value-added skin care products” and do not mind paying a premium for them.
For instance, the market has seen interest in microcurrent masks even though they are expensive.
On the other hand, K-beauty companies can tap into the interest in natural and vegan products, especially among younger consumers.