October 10, 2017 Cosmetics news

Cosmetics market and trends in South Korea

Everyone knows the cosmetics industry is one of the most flourishing in the world. However, trends and consumers’ desires vary from one country to another. At the Cosmed International Congress organized on June 9, 2017, Business France provided an overview of the cosmetics landscape in different regions of the world. This second part takes you to South Korea.

The cosmetics market in South Korea

Key figures
The cosmetics industry in South Korea is the third market in Asia-Pacific; it is ranked 10th on the global level, and its annual growth rate is 3%.
South Korea is ‘the country whose inhabitants consume the most cosmetics in the world. Every month, women use 27 products on average, men 12', Hyeun-suk Oh explained.
It is this country that created ‘K-Beauty', and Korean cosmetics, often praised as innovative, are gradually spreading across the world. China is at the top of the list of countries where exports are at the highest level, with 39.5% of imported Korean beauty products. It is followed by Hong Kong, 24.8%, the USA, 8.5%, and Japan, 4.6%.

Consumer profile
South Koreans are much concerned about their appearance, so they are very demanding as regards the quality of the products they use. Still, they are always enthusiastic when it comes to testing new products, concepts, and innovative cosmetics ingredients. 

Main distribution channels

As e-commerce is revolutionizing traditional shopping patterns, South Koreans prove extreme conformists as regards the Internet wave. As far as cosmetics are concerned, 24.2% of consumers shop in specialized stores. As a result, direct selling is the most popular channel among them. In addition, they like going to supermarkets (17.2%), department stores (16.2%), and duty free stores (16%). Online beauty shopping only seduces 9% of the population, ahead of teleshopping (5.4%) and parapharmacies (3.2%).

Consumers' favourite claims

South Koreans are very concerned about preserving the health of their epidermis, which is why face care products attract almost 48% of consumers: they search for anti-wrinkle, lifting products. Protection against environmental pollution is also a real aesthetic preoccupation – natural products can meet this demand.

Makeup is not one of the main concerns for women. Only 9% of them use this type of products. They are actually fond of cosmetics that even out the skin tone and conceal imperfections. Again, they prefer light and natural textures. 

Lastly, 9% of consumers buy hair care products – mostly repairing treatments that fight against the effects of pollution and treat hair loss. Long-lasting products with a light perfume and free from parabens, sulphates, and ammonia are favourites.

Fashionable products and trends

Hyeun-suk Oh presented a few of the bestselling cosmetics according to the most popular claims among South Korean consumers.
Skincare: Fabric masks are on a roll in Korea, in particular those made by the Mediheal brand. They moisturize the skin, brighten the skin tone, cleanse pores, and remove impurities. They are available in supermarkets, between €2 and €5 each.
Among the most popular products, there is also the Elensilia cream based on snail slime, a cosmetic ingredient directly imported from France. This product is well-known for its content in proteins, glycolic acids, and elastin. It helps regenerate the skin cells. This luxury product is exclusively sold online.
Makeup: South Korean women are fond of minimalist makeup: they like the Iope Air Cushion tinted cream by Amore Pacific. In addition to moisturizing the skin, it protects it from UV rays and helps whiten the skin tone. This premium quality product is available online for €35.
Hair care products: To take care of their hair, South Koreans usually turn to the Ryo shampoo by Amore Pacific. This product gathers all of the most popular claims: natural and anti-hair loss, it protects coloured hair. This high-end shampoo is available online, in duty free stores, but also in supermarkets.

South Korea is known for its cosmetics innovations, which is why its inhabitants are always in search of new textures, innovative cosmetics ingredients, and funny packaging. Still, South Koreans are not eccentric: women like natural makeup. They mostly bank on product quality to have beautiful skin and hair.


© CosmeticOBS-L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques
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