Even if you’re not into the Korean wave, you can’t ignore that Asia has plenty of innovative products concerning beauty. Korea has become the leader of Asian market of beauty and shows a very large choice for customers. Although those products have been thought for the Asian market only, more and more Westerners are becoming addicted. The question is, what makes those product different from what we can find in our own beauty shops ? What makes it that attractive ?
I can’t say that our products don’t have a good design but Korean cosmetics designs are so much more studied or unique that there can’t be any competition for most of them, from the paper box to the container. You have mainly 3 styles ; girly and cute, adult and luxury-like, or nature-friendly (but still cute).
The girly and cute style mainly ressembles Benefit packagings. Sometimes, I also had the feeling that it looked like child makeup ; but even if you’re not into pink and sparkle, these shops will turn you into a little girl dreaming about princesses. Isn’t it agreable to let out your girlyish self and enter those dolls house alike shops ?
Luxury faking packagings are often minimalistic in the style, but still very handable, often lined in silver or gold. Far from a doll house, it seems all clinical white and over-lighted (you should walk the streets at night to see how much light it implies).
Nature-friendly packaging are also sometimes faking it (I do not imply Innisfree, which actually has an ecologic certification) and use more natural colors, show more ingredients on the packaging, trying to make it appear fresh and natural.
Furthermore, some designs are playful and turn the skin care into a game, and other tend to bring the skincare to the more lazy people, making it so fast and easy (just like the face textile masks, idea being imported to us these days).
A lot of products in South Korea use ingredients we never found in our Western products. The best exemple remains the snails slime products, which are still popular and have been talked about all around the world. But unexpected ingredients trending nowadays are also caviar, wine or gold. Apart from introducing strange things, Korean products also tend to use a lot of natural ingredients’ benefits, mainly fruits and vegetables, but also plants, flowers. Other products are more « scientific » and added hyaluronic acid or O² to their formulas.
Choice and marketing
First, most visible part of the marketing and most important too: idols. Idols are everywhere. Stardom is the must-have to sell a product in Korea, and in beauty even more. People buy poducts for the celebrity who sells it. I also see this in France too, I mainly think about L’Oréal, but in Korea it’s quite extreme!
Korean beauty brands have another specificity; they make a product into a whole collection of products. You have the cream, the gel, the tonic, the cleanser, the makeup remover, the masks, the balm… everything. When I first visited a beauty shop with one of my friends, we really asked ourselves what was the use of some products, or in which order you were supposed to apply these during your beauty routine… I think the main point is to sell, for instance, the cleanser of the line, to a customer who liked the cream. It nearly sells us the Korean beauty lifestyle, where skin care is much more important than in the West – indeed, I feel like French people barely apply any cream generally.
Last but not least, let’s be honest. Snails slime’s cream is quite repulsive at first, but it works. I included quite a lot of Korean cosmetics to my own routine, for skincare as for makeup. Sometimes, products I couldn’t find in France and were searching for; sometimes I just found new favorites by chance.
Even if new and foreign is attractive by itself, I think that those cosmectics are really appealing. But I really wonder if they could sell in a large scale outside of Asia. Maybe it would imply some changes in the marketing – because obviously, idols are attracting kpop fans, but do not seek out the average customer. From my perspective, everything is possible and has a huge potential but nothing has been done yet. I could get some people without any passion for South Korea interested in the national cosmetics, and they seemed satisfied with it. The future will tell us if they can go conquer the world or keep their success to the limits of Asia!