Why Korea is influencing the Beauty World
From the BB cream frenzy to sheetmasks, creams and cleansers.
At first came the BB cream frenzy, and now Europe and North America have been swept over by Korea’s sheetmasks, creams and cleansers too. The Korean cosmetics have managed to build such a strong following through major innovations and a smart approach on skin care (and admittedly, super cute packaging too!) that even if some products, such as snail and snake venom cream will need some acclimatisation, most of their cosmetics are taking the West by storm.
There is no denying that South Korea has become the hub of global Beauty phenomena, but what has made k-beauty such a powerful leader in the industry? Today, South Korea is the world’s 15th largest economy and Seoul is one of the most modern capitals. But it’s easy to forget that, in the 1970s, South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world with little in the way of exploitable natural resources. Through thorough discipline, the country began its climb out of poverty and on the way, understood that its exploitable capital was human, and government support was needed to realise its potential; so the nation set out to become the world’s leading exporter of culture. For decades now, the government has pushed aggressively to export K-Pop music and TV to the rest of the world, earning millions of dollars for the country. Accordingly, the government’s current focus has shifted to another type of K-product: beauty.
Thus, in 2014, the country’s Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that they planned to expand the $1 billion K-Beauty industry into $6 billion by 2020. Meanwhile, in the first half of 2015, according to the Korea Customs Service, the total export value of Korean beauty products to the U.S. almost doubled. Of course, this promotion of K-Beauty is based on legitimate grounds and takes root in one of the nation’s strongest traditions. Indeed, Korean women, much like Japanese, have been busy at concocting skincare remedies since 700 BCE and it is their near-obsession with clean, smooth skin that makes them experts today. Because the Korean philosophy is to respect the skin and improve it from the inside out – through potent innovation and pure, botanical extracts - it resonates with US consumers. Charlotte Cho, the founder of Soko Glam, the Korean beauty & lifestyle shop, notes; “Americans are becoming influenced by the way Korean women take care of their skin. It’s about being proactive.”
Korea is such a super connected digital country, that the beauty conversation amongst consumers helps the brands to improve and innovate. Indeed, Korea has the fourth-fastest internet speed in the world (the US ranks 11th as a frame of reference), so consumers’ expectations and thoughts about beauty brands/products are so quickly shared with each other, providing product creators with a speedy feedback, enabling further innovation to meet the expectations of these skincare-savvy and communicative consumers. For a nation that works hard at everything they do (pali-pali, fast-fast), it is merely natural that this ethic should apply to beauty too. In such a super competitive global market, boosted by globally demanding and skincare-savvy women, Korean beauty brands must imperatively deliver on all fronts. Because exporting culture is not just profitable in itself. If the people of the emerging economies have been captivated by Korean trends and culture, they will be the more inclined to buy Korean products, too.
Crédits photo : DR
Article paru dans le numéro #102 SIGNATURE
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