Korean Cosmetics Make a Splash Overseas

      July 06, 2013 08:42

      Missha is only the latest Korean cosmetics brand to establish a foothold overseas amid a massive expansion mainly due to affordable prices.

      Missha became the first Korean cosmetics brand to set up shop in the Czech Republic, opening a store on June 25 in Brno, the East European nation's second largest city.

      Able C&C, which runs the cheap cosmetics brand, hopes that the Czech Republic will serve as a foothold for the European market.

      Over the last few years, Korean cosmetics brands have been aggressively strengthening their presence overseas. Cosmetics exports stood at US$1.07 billion last year, and surpassed imports ($978 million) for the first time.

      A customer shops at a branch of Korean cosmetics brand Missha in Brno, the Czech Republic.

      Amore Pacific's Laneige has 23 stores in Hong Kong with monthly sales of over W100 million (US$1=W1,142) on average. The brand enjoys high recognition in the global market, partly thanks to the promotional efforts of employing British actress and socialite Sienna Miller.

      LG Household and Health Care also saw sales overseas rise 46 percent on-year to W166.3 billion in the first quarter of this year. It acquired Ginza Stefany Cosmetics to make inroads into the Japanese market last year.

      Having opened its first overseas store in Australia in 2004, Missha now has over 1,100 outlets in 22 countries.

      The popularity of Korean cosmetics also owes something to the effects of Korean pop culture. When Amore first made inroads into the Chinese market in 2008, it massively promoted its products lines with commercials featuring popular soap actress Song Hye-kyo, and the strategy proved very successful.

      Women shop at an Amore Pacific outlet in a department store in Beijing, China. /Courtesy of Able C&C and Amore Pacific

      But Korean brands have also adapted to local tastes. For Vietnamese women who are most worried about UV-light-induced skin aging, LG mainly focused on promoting sun creams that can be applied to the face even after putting on makeup. With the local weather in mind, the firm focused its sales efforts in Mongolia on moisturizers, and in Burma on cosmetic products with alleged hydrating and whitening effects.

      Laneige's moisturizing masks became popular in Hong Kong, where dry skin is a common concern there due to the hot and humid weather.

      Quality is another factor behind the success. Last year, Dr. Jart became the first Korean cosmetics brand to supply products to Boots, the U.K.'s biggest chain of drug stores with 3,000 retail outlets and 17,000 pharmacies in 25 countries.

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