The K-Beauty phenomenon challenges and satisfies Western minimalist routines, and its influence already extends well beyond East Asia. Here, we explore new opportunities as K-Beauty continues to gain fans across the globe.

K-Beauty’s Western expansion speeds up

Major South Korean cosmetic companies are establishing more brick-and-mortar locations that will spotlight brands and add more products onto specialty retailers’ shelves. These brands are likely to speed up K-Beauty’s geographical expansion to boost profits, and larger cosmetic players such as Amorepacific are expected to accelerate K-Beauty multichannel marketing campaigns in Europe and the US. This influx of K-Beauty brands will generate greater competitive challenges for regional cosmetic brands, highlighting opportunities for multinational brands to create K-Beauty inspired products.

E-commerce gains consumer loyalty

K-Beauty e-commerce sites, including Soko Glam, Peach & Lily, Glow Recipe and Cult Beauty, have created huge buzz and interest in K-Beauty products in the US and UK. Glow Recipe has registered impressive sales from its beginning in 2014 and has forged a successful relationship with Sephora, showcasing its bestselling products in-store and online. Its success in the US market is due to its ability to create a fun product experience that nudges the consumer to try something different, yet still works within a ‘few steps’ skincare routine.

Tailored ‘Americanesque’ K-Beauty ranges appear

Peach & Lily and Glow Recipe have branched out further to offer K-Beauty skincare products that are personalized for the US consumer. Peach & Lily launched nine products under the Peach Slices brand, while Glow Recipe showcases its own skincare products: Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask (which has amassed a huge wait list) and Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser. These brands realize that K-Beauty must cater to the cultural preferences of its subscribers in order to evolve. Constant engagement, dialogue and newness are critical for success.

Watermelon Glow

Blueberry Bounce

Going mainstream

K-Beauty is expanding beyond large specialty retailers (ie Sephora) and is being sold in mass and pharmacy stores, including US pharmacy chain CVS Pharmacy. Mass retailers’ commitment to showcase K-Beauty is expected to increase awareness and interest from a larger set of consumers beyond the early adopters, especially among lower and middle-income consumers. It also creates an opportunity to personalize messaging for the older beauty consumer who more frequently shops at mass retailers.

The pharmacy setting also provides an opportunity for K-Beauty brands to project their strong health and wellness message, and offers opportunities for K-Beauty, and K-Beauty-inspired niche brands, to entertain and capture consumers when priced and promoted accordingly.

David Tyrrell is a Global Skincare Analyst, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel. He provides analysis of consumer skincare needs and behaviors, ingredient and product assessments and competitive insights that impact business interests of skincare companies across the globe.

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