June 09, 2016 12:24
Korean cosmetics production surpassed a record W10 trillion in 2015 powered by explosive popularity on Asian markets (US$1=W1,158).
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Wednesday said cosmetics production totaled W10.7 trillion in 2015, up 19.6 percent compared to the previous year.
The country exported US$2.59 billion worth of cosmetics, up 43.7 percent compared to 2014 and equivalent to 12.3 million Samsung smartphones. Exports to China almost doubled to $1.06 billion. Korea's cosmetics industry is evolving thanks to explosive demand overseas on the back of the popularity of Korean pop music, TV soaps and movies.
Newly popular products involve functional cosmetics using unusual ingredients like snail mucus and oriental herbs, and technology like so-called air cushions, which make a liquid foundation soaked in a sponge contain a makeup base, sun protection and skin moisturizer all in one.
Unique containers have also played a key role. Tonymoly hand creams sold in cases shaped like pandas, peaches, bananas or tomatoes have caught on in China. The Face Shop chain of beauty product stores run by LG Household and Health Care sells face pack masks that resemble tigers and pandas in order to appeal to Chinese tastes.
Legions of Chinese tourists visiting Seoul buy boxes of the mask packs, and the chain's monthly sales have surged 40 percent compared to 2015. Taking selfies wearing Korean beauty mask packs has become a fad in China.
The production of fakes and knockoffs has also surged. LG has started putting holographic stickers on its products and creating containers that are hard to copy, such as a sculpted lotus-shaped lid. Amore Pacific set up a special team at its China office that deals with knockoffs.
Amore Pacific signed a memorandum of understanding with Alibaba early this year for the protection of intellectual property and are educating Chinese staff on how to distinguish knockoffs.
But Kim Joo-deok at Sungshin Women's University warned that the boom cannot last. "Three years from now, Chinese cosmetics manufacturers will be rolling out products that are similar in quality to Korean ones but cheaper," Kim said. "We need to ease curbs on functional cosmetics and boost government investment and support for the industry."
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