What’s next for K-Beauty?

July 25, 2017
3 min read

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.

David Tyrrell
David Tyrrell

David Tyrrell is Global Skincare Analyst at Mintel. He analyzes consumer skincare needs and behaviors, ingredient and product assessments and competitive insights.

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