The Growing Influence of K-Beauty on Western Buyers in 2017 and Beyond
MakeUp in NewYork has not always been on our radar for trend research or innovative concepts in bar soap or liquid skincare. This annual fall show, now in its seventh year, has historically been a place for packaging designers and makeup formulators to network and showcase their wares. We sent our Director of Trend & Marketing Strategy to the 2017 show to get the inside scoop on the K-beauty trend and the growing influence of Korean brands in the U.S., and to understand how this information will help our business partners.
K-Beauty Growth in 2017
K-beauty is not a new concept for any skincare buyers who have picked up a magazine or stopped by a CVS in the last year, but its popularity continues to grow as more and more users of all ages try new products and regimens, and are more willing to spend a weekend evening masking and indulging in self-care, rather than a late night out with friends.
Thanks to a wealth of knowledge shared by vloggers and industry experts, Western users are learning to trust K-beauty standbys with more exotic ingredients, such as multi-tasking snail mucus and fermented sheet masks. Marketing stories that may have once scared Western consumers are now contemplated by buyers everywhere from Walgreens to Nordstrom, at price points that won’t hurt the wallet. With each new sheet mask or dewy skin product, users are invited to discover a new product in an accessible, on-trend way.
Customers are more interested in K-beauty products than those from any particular brand, and one could even say that K-beauty is the brand itself. This market releases new products faster than we can in the U.S., as many South Korean R&D teams are generally very large and assisted by government funding, and regulation is not as great a barrier for new developments as it is for many products manufactured and sold in the U.S. This fast-to-market pace and adaptability are what keep Korean brands ahead of the pack and leading the way as the rest of the industry strives to keep up with their own innovations.
What We Can Learn from K-Beauty
One of the most pivotal components of the K-beauty trend is its educational aspect with marketing. It is not intuitive for users to navigate a 10 step or more product regimen, but with the right timing, understanding, and tools, this intensive system has become the standard for many K-beauty advocates. Many Western women use far more than 10 specific products in their makeup application process, and a growing awareness to put skin first has helped many users to switch their methodology to more of a K-beauty mindset. Popular millennial brand Glossier even launched their products with this way of thinking, teaching a new generation “Skin first. Makeup second. Smile always.”
There’s also a growing trend towards customization, moving away from the simple idea that "skin is skin" – with so many different environmental influences, stress, and age, users are looking to create a skincare regimen that works specifically for their own issues and climate, which can fluctuate on a daily basis. The Korean idea that there are “no ugly women, just lazy ones,” is controversial and not very kind, but focuses on the concept that everyone can benefit from improved hydration, a better awareness of sun damage, and finding what works for them and their level of investment in their own appearance and skin health.
Where Does Twincraft Fit In?
Can Twincraft compete with the massive and well-funded R&D teams of South Korea? Simply put, we cannot, but nor would we want to – Twincraft has always had a strong emphasis on the natural space, formulating with our ingredient-conscious business partners in mind. K-beauty as an industry does not emphasize organic ingredients or avoid certain preservatives, silicones, and other toxic chemicals that the Western clean beauty space tries to avoid.
We strive to be inspired by the innovative ideas that come out of the K-beauty trend, but want to put our own, unique Twincraft spin on it. This is why we’ve developed our own hydrogel moisturizers and uniquely textured creamy clay masks, but without the harmful ingredients that you’d find in their K-beauty benchmarks. It’s a crowded market out there, but our teams are actively working to observe and navigate the constantly changing industry landscape to best serve our business partners and produce products that we can stand behind for years to come.