In South Korea, a growing number of consumers are pursuing a lifestyle free of animal cruelty, including avoiding products that conduct animal testing.
As Korean consumers increasingly associate veganism with a company’s ESG management and zero-waste practices, cosmetic manufacturers in the country are expanding their portfolio with products made by vegan formulations.
“Vegan zones” have also become a common sight at retail stores in the country.
Youngin Kim, manager of the Korea Agency of Vegan Certification and Services (KVCS), believes that vegan certification will become a symbol of endorsement that is as important as halal certification in the future.
“For cosmetics, even if all the ingredients are indicated on the product label, it is difficult for consumers to determine whether the raw materials are suitable for vegan use.
“Therefore, it is helpful to have a third party — and not the product manufacturer — review the raw materials. Vegan certification can help brands gain customer trust and confidence. Furthermore, some distributors only sell products that have obtained vegan certification, so having the credentials will help cosmetic companies increase their sales routes,” Kim told CosmeticsDesign-Asia.
According to Kim, exports of Korean vegan cosmetics to other Asian countries and the Middle Eastern markets are rapidly increasing.
“Veganism is not limited to cosmetics. It is a personal belief that is being adopted all over the world, and national organisations in every country are interested in bolstering vegan-related industries. The expansion for vegan cosmetics, in particular, will lead to growth in other industries such as vegetable raw materials and alternative testing methods,” he added.
Fitting the bill
To obtain vegan certification by the KVCS, a product has to fulfil a list of criteria.
Specifically, animal-derived raw materials must not be used in the entire manufacturing process; animal testing must not be done at any time, from product development to final market launch; and every effort should be made to avoid cross-contamination during the manufacturing process.
Currently, Korean beauty brands are faced with challenges caused by a lack of understanding of veganism.
“There are many cases where brands use the wrong marketing messaging when they launch vegan products. If the right information is not communicated to consumers who buy the products, it can damage the brand image,” Kim said.
The KVCS seeks to address this problem through its education initiatives for cosmetics manufacturers and brands, so they can present accurate information and better engage with consumers.
While the KVCS’s vegan certification can be used internationally, Kim emphasised that matters related to the labelling and advertising of cosmetic products are regulated by individual countries’ authorities.
“Companies should review the applicable regulations in the countries that they are located in to verify if the vegan certification is recognised,” he reiterated.