‘Diversify away from China’: Middle East and Western markets could be new hotbed for K-beauty brands – expert

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

Laneige's UK launch comes after rising attention and demand for K-beauty products in the region. ©Amorepacific
Laneige's UK launch comes after rising attention and demand for K-beauty products in the region. ©Amorepacific

Related tags k beauty Korean cosmetics Amorepacific expansion

Korean cosmetics giant Amorepacific’s Laneige has recently accelerated its global expansion footsteps into the UK and Middle East, underscoring the shift in target markets of K-beauty brands.

Amorepacific announced in May that its global brand Laneige has landed in SPACE NK, a luxury beauty retailer in the UK, followed by its debut in the Middle East through a partnership with Sephora.

The brand’s flagship products, including Lip Sleeping Mask and Water Bank Cream, have been introduced at Sephora stores in the UAE and four Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries, namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

This series of expansion by Amorepacific does not come as a surprise to Lauren Lee, founder of K-beauty e-commerce platform and consultancy STYLE STORY.

“K-beauty is still very much in its infancy in the Middle East. There is a lot of interest in the products because they’ve got a really great reputation, but they are not widely available yet.

“In fact, there are hardly any offline Korean cosmetic stores in the region at the moment — The Face Shop (under LG Household and Health Care) has a few stores in Dubai and the UAE, while Laneige is only available at Sephora,” ​Lee told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​.

She believes that more K-beauty brands will be heading to the Middle East in the next five to 10 years, as the local consumers are “some of the biggest spenders of cosmetics products in the world”.

“As women in the region wear the burka or hijab, they put in great effort in visible areas like facial skin as well as makeup. K-beauty will likely experience another major growth phase here.”

According to Lee, another factor that has driven Korean beauty brands towards markets in the Middle East, Europe and North America is the reduction of reliance on China.

“There has been a lot of political tension between Korea and China over the past decade. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many disruptions and problems, so more and more brands are trying to diversify away from China,” ​she added.

Booming in the West

As of March this year, Laneige can be found in 1,370 Sephora stores in 18 countries, including the US, Canada, Australia and Europe.

At the same time, the brand continues to actively explore new markets and strengthen its position as a leading global cosmetics brand.

Its UK launch comes after rising attention and demand for Korean beauty products. The sales volume for Laneige in Europe reportedly grew by more than 90% year-on-year in Q1 2023.

Prior to its official entry into the UK, Laneige was spotlighted on British beauty e-commerce platforms Cult Beauty, LOOK FANTASTIC, and Beauty Bay, and we were able to see the strong interest from local consumers. With the launch in SPACE NK, we plan to expand customer contact points, focusing on our flagship products,” ​the firm said.

SPACE NK retails skin care, makeup, fragrances, and hair care products from multinational cosmetics brands across 72 stores in the UK and Ireland.

To boost brand awareness, Amorepacific operated an exclusive Laneige space at the SPACE NK store in Central London, England for a month in May.

It also plans to further establish a foothold in the Western region through content featuring its brand ambassador Sydney Sweeney.

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