Astounding Growth of Korean Beauty in North America

I was fortunate to attend CEW’s K-BOOM in New York. The K-BOOM event was part of CEW’s Beauty Insiders Series. In case you didn’t know, the ‘K’ stands for Korean.  And the ‘BOOM’ is all about the astounding growth of Korean beauty in North America.  The panel was very engaging and I loved hearing about emerging trends, ingredients, formulas, and textures.  And today, I am happy to share my notes from the panel discussion.

Astounding Growth of Korean Beauty in North America
K-BOOM Panel

The Panel

  • Bradley Horowitz — President & CEO, Amore Pacific US.  Amore Pacific, known for its CC Cushion Compact, is Korea’s largest beauty conglomerate and the 12th largest beauty company in the world with $5B in sales.
  • Sarah Lee — Co-CEO & Co-Founder, Glow Recipe. Founded by two former L’Oréal marketers, Glow Recipe is a leading incubator to the United States for Korean beauty brands.  The two partners travel to Korea six to seven times per year to keep current with the latest K-Beauty trends and innovations.
  • Priya Venkatesh — Vice President of Merchandising (Skincare & Hair), Sephora. Sephora saw a 70% increase in K-Beauty sales in 2016 vs. 2015.  The retailer started with BB Cream endcaps in 2012.  And in 2015 K-Beauty routines were featured more prominently at the front of the store.  Priya considers Seoul to be the “Silicon Valley of Skincare”.  Skincare is the strength of K-Beauty but she doesn’t see the K-beauty influence transferring to makeup.  However, make-up ready skincare will be a key focus for the retailer in the near term.

Big Takeaways

American consumers aren’t likely to adopt a 7 to 13 product daily routine. However, they will find ways to incorporate Korean inspired products into their regimen.  For example, a consumer may start with using Sheet Masks and then getting into Double Cleansing and later adding an Essence to her routine.

Astounding Growth of Korean Beauty in North America

Ingredients to Watch

  • Asian Botanicals, Green Tea, Ginseng, Beans
  • Amore Pacific uses Bamboo Sap as much as possible to replace water. In addition to the skin benefits, this approach helps with global water conservation.
  • Pine mushroom defends the skin against inflammation.
  • Artichoke for pore refining
  • Propolis for anti-oxidant benefits

Product Trends on the Horizon

  • Efficiency and Efficacy. Korean and American women lead busy lives and can’t always commit to the multiple steps that define the traditional Korean skincare routine.  Innovation will focus on hybrid products that save time:  Overnight treatments with hydration and exfoliation benefits;  Priming moisturizers for make-up ready skin;  In-shower products that balance, tone, and hydrate.
  • Visibly natural skincare innovation
  • Sleeping Mask expansion for eye and lip
  • Pollution Defense with anti-oxidants
  • Cream Fluids that offer the benefits of a cream but with the delivery of a liquid/fluid
  • Milk Peeling Treatments – peeling infused with hydration to take the fear out of peels

Astounding Growth of Korean Beauty in North America

As a beauty marketer, and as an avid beauty consumer, I have great appreciation for the growth of K-beauty.  The current brands in my arsenal include Belif, Dr. Jart+, and Skinfood. If you haven’t yet experienced K-Beauty, I’m sure you will in the near future.  Many of these brands have been expanding to key retailers including Macy’s and Target.  K-Beauty is going to be impossible to ignore.  And once you try it, I’m sure you’ll be impressed with the unique and beautiful textures, fragrances, and ingredients of these products.  Check them out.  It’s fun to play.

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