Korean beauty has been a phenomenon for the past few years with new players in this space entering every day.
Big, established companies like Estee Lauder are taking stakes in brands like Dr Jart+ to tap into this trend. Financial firms are buying up manufacturers and brands as well and betting on the global proliferation of "Hallyu" or the Korean Wave.
So what is happening here and why? If we dissect the reasons why Korean beauty is so popular, it can be bucketed into four reasons:
The crux of what Korean beauty offers the rest of the world is innovation. The condensed population of Korea, fickle and demanding consumers, and need to manufacture and export has developed an innovation speed that has many in the US impressed.
Rather than two year long innovation cycles Korean beauty companies can pump out new products in months. They launch, gather reaction and responses, iterate or dump, and so on and so on until they find a winner.
Interesting and Crazy Ingredients
From snail mucin to donkey's milk to egg whites, Korean beauty products are daring with their ingredient lists. These ingredient-focused products stand out in a beauty aisle that's cluttered with the same old "anti-aging ingredients" or "moisturizing cream". They grab your attention, make you curious, add some fun and entertainment into your normally boring skincare routine.
Whether these ingredients are scientifically effect is another topic but as marketing gimics they have helped Korean products stand front and center in a crowded market.
Part of the reason Korean beauty has become so popular is that it's different and fun. One component of this is fun, interesting, cool, quirky packaging. You want a lip balm that smells like bananas and looks like an actual banana? No problem. How about a portable foundation that comes with a puff and is basically a foundation compact? Done. Gummy bear hand gels? You got it.
The playful nature of K-Beauty packaging has won many fans Stateside.
Accessible Price Points
So, you can get innovative products, with cute packaging and interesting, "wow" ingredients all for under $20-$30? Sold!
The efficiencies these manufacturers and brands get from the supply chain side are passed on to the consumer. Because Korea is such a demanding and competitive market, beauty brands need to price competitively so that products are easy add-ons rather than wallet-crushing investments.