Korean Cosmetics in High Demand in Japan

  • By Lee Hai-woon

    December 02, 2017 09:08

    Korean beauty products are selling like hot cakes in Japan, the world's third-largest market for cosmetics after the U.S. and China.

    According to recent data by the Cosmetics Importers Association of Japan, imports of Korean color cosmetics in the first nine months of this year rose 10.5 percent compared to the same period of 2016 to 2.68 billion yen.

    Imports of Korean skincare products rose 14.6 percent to 10 billion yen. Last year, Japan imported a record US$182.6 million worth of Korean cosmetics, but that is expected to be broken this year.

    The Yomiuri Shimbun referred to the popularity of Korean beauty products as the "Third Korean Wave," after the craze for K-pop and Korean TV soaps. 

    Amore Pacific's Etude House store in Harajuku, Tokyo

    Low to mid-priced Korean brands like Missha are spearheading the growth. Korean-style makeup is all the rage among young Japanese women, characterized by white tones and bright lip colors.

    Missha's sales in Japan stood at W27.3 billion last year, doubling from 2015 (US$1=W1,085). At present, around 10,000 stores in Japan sell them, compared to 6,000 last year.

    Clio Cosmetics' "Peripera" lipstick is being sold in thousands of stores in Japan. And Skinfood, another Korean brand, posted double-digit sales growth in the first quarter of this year. Cosmetics giant Amore Pacific also opened a store for its mid-priced makeup brand Etude House late last year in Tokyo's trendy Harajuku district.

    A key to the boom is that young consumers are being introduced to products on social media. A survey in June showed that half of teenagers look to Korea to get the latest fashion cues.

    These young consumers are not influenced by diplomatic issues that divide the two countries. An industry source in Japan said, "Young Japanese people just think that Korean cosmetics are cool."

    Japanese cosmetics companies believe their Korean rivals have succeeded in creating innovative products and targeting niche markets.

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