Hair products seem to be replacing perfume and skin products as the trendiest "little luxuries" among consumers as the drawn-out recession compels them to downsize their desires from expensive designer garments to smaller accessories and more affordable products.
According to global consumer panels firm Kantar Worldpanel, Korea's hair-product market is worth W2.5 trillion (US$1=W1,065). Testament to its growing stature, U.S. cosmetic brand Aveda says its sales of high-end shampoos and conditioners here have been soaring by 30 percent every year, with overall sales jumping 150 to 200 percent.
Specialist brands in particular are seeing robust demand for their volumizing shampoos, sprays that strengthen the roots of the hair, and scalp-cleansing hair toners.
"Increasingly, people feel satisfaction from buying products that other people don’t have, and paying attention to the little things that others tend to ignore. In this respect, hair care has become the new frontier of this trend," said lifestyle consultant Koo Sun-joo.
Male customers are also rapidly increasing in number. More men are paying attention to the importance of self-grooming and their appearance. Moreover, the stress they feel in an increasingly competitive society causes them to fret about going bald, which makes them more willing to open their wallets for hair products.
According to a survey conducted by L'Oreal, Korean men are also interested in purchasing hair dye and treatment products. Out of 257 unmarried men in their 20s and 30s polled, 60 percent answered that their appearance has a major impact on their social life. A further 13.5 percent said they fork out on hair dye or hair treatment products every month to manage or prevent hair loss or greying.