Hwa Jun Lee
Hwa Jun is a Senior Beauty and Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, based in Seoul.

In South Korea, more and more younger consumers have been widely reported to embrace a minimalist lifestyle and are rejecting unnecessary waste, often feeling happier when buying only the essentials.

The consumption trend among younger consumers leans towards buying small, portable, easy to use products at reasonable prices, rather than purchasing many items at once. In fact, we are seeing more and more of them adopting a minimalist lifestyle, also attributable to the rise of the Honjok (혼족, ‘the loner’) tribe.

So who are these Honjoks?

A Honjok is a person who prefers to work, eat, enjoy leisure activities, shop and travel alone. It is different to a one-person household (someone who inevitably lives alone); instead, it signifies a mindset. In light of rapid modernisation and urbanisation, individualism has developed. Amidst conversations on social media and news reports, it has come to widespread attention that more South Koreans think it is better to enjoy life alone than to be stressed out by other people.

This is creating opportunities for companies and brands to cater to South Korea’s growing tribe of minimalists and Honjoks and their need for simple and small products.

The recent #escapethecorset movement describes an uprising against the complex beauty routines forced on younger women, and is loosely related to the Honjok tribe.

A successful example of the minimalism trend in K-beauty is Laneige’s Cream Skin Refiner. It is described as a highly moisturising toner, enriched with a jar of cream processed using the brand’s original Cream Blending Technology™, that transforms the highly viscous cream into a watery texture. This product concentrates on the basics of skincare.

Innovating beauty products for ‘skip care’

‘Skip care’ is a rising trend among beauty minimalists in South Korea—whereby consumers skip skincare routine steps. In essence, a backlash against complex beauty routines which are common in K-beauty.

Consumers who are beauty minimalists believe complex, layered skincare routines are not good for skin health—hence why they are reducing the number of beauty products that they use on a daily basis.

Source: Naver

This opens up opportunities for brands to offer guidance to help consumers find the right products for ‘skip care’. Dr. Jart, for instance, is a brand that educates consumers on how they can minimise their skincare routines with the use of their products.

Setting up a strategy for beauty minimalism

In the beauty industry, minimalism is being showcased in a variety of ways, from simplifying skincare routines to all-in-one beauty products and simpler, smaller packaging.

Moving over to the beauty device sector, products such as vibration cleansers, exfoliators, facial massagers and lifting devices are emerging in the market. However, all-in-one beauty devices are becoming increasingly popular as they are convenient, easy-to-use and reasonably priced.

Eosika M1 all-in-one beauty device

The time is right for beauty companies to establish a strategy to meet the various needs of South Korea’s beauty minimalists.