K-Beauty: From Asia to the World

September 2018

While Asia Pacific continues to be the core market in beauty and personal care in 2018, K-Beauty is expanding its territory outside Asia Pacific. Not only beauty giants such as AmorePacific and LG Household & Health Care are commanding in the market, but many small and minor brands are also entering global competition with unique positioning. There has been all success stories about K-Beauty but for it to further prosper in global region, its limitations and weaknesses need to be reviewed.

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Spreading further to global regions is imperative for K-Beauty

Beauty and personal care in South Korea has reached maturity and forecast growth is not as appealing as in previous years. In this sense, K-Beauty needs to expand global coverage for future potential. Current K-Beauty stance is focused on the domestic market and some parts of Asia. The high concentration in Asian countries may lead to skewed product development and also leave brands vulnerable to external factors as political dispute.

J-Beauty and C-Beauty threaten K-Beauty’s uniqueness

Potential as well as limitation lies in K-Beauty’s spread globally. J-Beauty is picking up sales and C-Beauty is rising significantly. K-Beauty needs to grow out of selling the concept of Korean-style beauty routines. In order to grow further, K-Beauty manufacturers need to establish stronger brand power before K-Beauty’s fame fades.

Multiple sources need to be reviewed including retailing strategy

Brands need to look out for several factors when entering a new market.Focusing on the right retail channel by growing out of internet retailing is necessary for future growth. Using the right ingredients and marketing activities is also critical. Expansion in multiple categories exampled by baby and child-specific products and hair care is also needed for global penetration.

Understanding regional nuances and consumer preferences is critical

Different consumer behaviours and beauty routines are evident in each region.Preference in terms of product features differs due to many factors including consumers’ lifestyles, environments and regional trends. In order to reach out to each region for expansion, brands need to take account of different desired benefits in specific region to gain a unique selling point.


Scop e
Key findings

What is K-Beauty?

K-Beauty is one of three key pillars of the Korean Wave
K-Beauty milestones mirror the K-Wave timeline
What is K-Beauty?
What is the K-Beauty routine?
Where is K-Beauty distributed across the globe?
R&D and tourism are supporting pillars of K-Beauty

Market Snapshot

South Korean market alone is no longer appealing
Asia Pacific still has potential in the beauty realm but until when?
K-Beauty needs to seek opportunities further afield

Competitive Landscape: Current Stance

South Korea characterised by consolidated landscape
The two K-Beauty giants lead the way
Footsteps of AmorePacific around the globe (1)
Footsteps of AmorePacific around the globe (2)
Footsteps of LG Household & Health Care around the globe (1)
Footsteps of LG Household & Health Care around the globe (2)
Small/medium-sized companies like Tony Moly expand to other regions
Mediheal positions as face mask specialist, with growth potential globally
Neopharm disrupts with its dermocosmetics heritage

Competitive Landscape: Threats to K-Beauty

Small/mid-sized K-Beauty players start to show market presence…
…but are quickly snapped up by international conglomerates
OEM/ODM establishes itself as a competitive threat
K-Beauty increasingly threatened by Korean-inspired competitors
Japan ups its game to steal back the Asian beauty crown
China enters the competition

Globalisation Strategies

Four-step approach for K-Beauty to achieve successful globalisation

Globalisation Strategies: Maintain Strong Export Culture

The power of K-Beauty comes in strong exports
Cross-border e-commerce, another form of K-Beauty export

Globalisation Strategies: Identify the Right Retail Strategy

Expanding beyond internet retailing
Target diverse retailing channels to crack the US

Globalisation Strategies: understand regional differences

Understanding regional attitudes towards loyalty is paramount
Cultural preferences and top sought-after benefits must be considered
Applying localised ingredients could offer a unique selling point

Globalisation Strategies: Expansion to new categories

Identifying new category opportunities and concepts


Looking further into growth opportunities
Key takeaways


Definitions (1)
Definitions (2)
Definitions (3)

Appendix: Competitor Analytics

Overlap Matrices


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