During one of my dates with my college friends, I went to Kamla Nagar, near Delhi University (India). As we were searching through different cafés, I came across a beauty store. Brightly lit and lined with material covered in cute packages, the store was dedicated to Korean beauty products and other related accessories. After the successful launch of Miniso (Chinese Retail Company) in India, as an end-user, I started observing the rise of K-Beauty brands too.
The more I consumed KDrama and KPOP, the more I started getting recommendations for beauty tutorials on YouTube, Seoul travel package ads and content around life in South Korea. Every element was inter-related and instead of isolated consumption, I was provided with an integrated experience. As their “target” audience, the marketing strategy of brands and agencies seemed to work, luring me enough to try these products.
But what is leading to the exponential boom for K-Beauty brands in India and other countries? Before we explore the possible answers, we need to put this “rise” in context.
South Korea is considered as the top driver for “global economic and fast moving consumer goods industries”. While K-Beauty is just one of the components, the beauty industry is estimated to be worth over $13bn, according to Mintel. In 2015, South Korea’s beauty exports to the US grew 59%, reaching USD$207 million and in the coming years, the trend seems to move towards an increase in distribution through retailers, construction of physical stores in the target countries, and an obvious increase in exports.
Listed below are some popular Korean beauty brands:
- Glow Recepie
- Peach & Lily
Now, to answer the question, what drives sales and makes K-Beauty brands stand out?
The Answer Lies in Innovation
As Thomas Edison said, “there’s a better way to do it – find it”, innovation in beauty industry is not something new. But the highlight for K-Beauty brands lie in their ability to stay steps ahead of their western competitors and counterparts. Combining science, nature and aesthetics, the K-Beauty brands always brings in a new element, which just does the work better than its preceding elements.
The Core: Skincare
Moving away from their 10-step skin routine, the K-Beauty brands are serving their audience with quick solutions. But the focus still remains on “skincare” than beauty. As explained by Business Off Fashion,
“Korean beauty products are characterised by affordable prices, whimsical packaging, innovative formulas (like oxygen bubble masks) and ingredients not often seen in the US, like snail mucin and donkey milk. The focus is on ingredients, cleansing, hydration and skin care-as-ritual.”
The video tutorials populating our feed expedite the correct way of using the products, advocating “no make-up make-up” look and allowing the users and the viewers to understand the significance of natural beauty.
Social Media Advocacy of K-Beauty
If one wants to understand the role social media plays as an influence, one need not go beyond K-Beauty. Experimenting with different formats, influencers on social networking sites are loyal advocates of K-Beauty. Be it through Tik Tok, YouTube, Live Streams on Facebook or IGTV videos on Instagram, the tutorials, transformation videos, and unboxing videos are making waves on all the social networking platforms.
But instead of considering the content creators as the recipients of the popularity, they must instead be studied as the one who led K-Beauty to attain such mass appeal. This holds a special significance in the case of non-natives as these influencers have been able to normalize the use of certain products, offering themselves as a real-life example.
Sonal Yadav, a YouTuber with 75K subscribers moved to South Korea after she found her interest in K-Beauty and South Korean culture. Becoming the first hand source for her Indian viewers, her journey, shopping hauls, make-up tutorials gave people a glimpse into the culture they enjoy through KPOP and KDrama. Her collaboration with YesStyle, a brand that has been one of the biggest retailers of Korean products in Asia and other countries benefits all the parties involved – brand, the YouTuber as well as the viewers.
Therefore, the brands are actively collaborating with social media influencers to reach out to their prospective audience.
BTS, the South Korean band who in the last three years have had a colossal influence on the music industry, has been named in several research reports to contribute massively to their country’s economy. But exactly how much?
HRI has revealed that BTS is responsible for contributing $1.1 billion (1.7%) to the total Korean consumer goods export, the share of which in 2016 was $65.2 billion. The consumer goods export includes cosmetics, food, and clothing, components that are important for South Korea.
The break down of BTS’ impact goes as follows: Clothing = $2.026 billion, Cosmetics = $2.8 billion, and food = $3.96 billion. Their brand has power which becomes a huge factor when they collaborate with brands, directly and indirectly. When Jungkook revealed that he uses Downy for his clothes, the sales for the company soared with two-months worth of stocks sold out. Now, Downy has collaborated with BT21 to reveal an exclusive line, available as limited edition.
While we are witnessing a niche industry making its way into the mainstream competition, we must look at the barriers this transition will help eliminate. To any K-Beauty consumer, third-party sellers pose the highest risk. While they help trigger people’ emotions through clever promotion, the evocation only ends in expensive shipping charges, loss of money, and poor customer experience.
Expansion of K-Beauty brands and their partnership with retailers and other multi-brand firms will help customers buy products from trusted places, helping them save time and money.
What do you think? Share your thoughts via tweet @Fuzzable.