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Projections for future K-beauty evolution in the US part I: New experiences dominate

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

K-beauty in the US

Related tags: Global skincare analyst, South korea

Experiential beauty, anti-ageing and moisturisation benefits, along with the safety of cosmetics are hot points of interest for the US markets, David Tyrrell, Global Skincare Analyst, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel revealed. 

In 2017, multifunctional products are proving a main staple of K-Beauty collections. These items “aggressively hallmark a moisturising benefit, and are accompanied by anti-ageing and whitening claims,”​ stated David Tyrrell, Global Skincare Analyst, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel.

Where are K-beauty innovations heading?

This year’s K-beauty product launches are characterised by “consumer insistence on new experiences" ​as these push the "development of new textures or transformations such as watery gels, mousse to water or powder-to-serum, and applicators to excite and engage the senses,”​ Tyrrell added.

Recently, “early anti-ageing”​ products have also become a popular development in K-beauty selections as these reflect multifunctional serums aimed at the 20-something consumers. These products also typically incorporate daily, mild exfoliating treatments that demonstrate polyhydroxy acid.

Today, consumers are increasingly adding lightweight oil serums into their skin care regimens to lift hydration. These simultaneously work by fortifying skin with natural oils that include essential fatty acids.

Tyrrell emphasised that one key element of K-beauty items is getting a makeover for US audiences: “Sheet masks are a mainstay; yet new innovative designs, materials and formulas are being introduced to provide a more premium spa-like experience.”

In South Korea, consumers also have a considerable interest in natural ingredients that have been boosted to maximise the safety of ingredients. South Koreans seek ingredient scores from Environmental Working Group, a US-based consumer watchdog group, to help achieve ingredient safety. As a result, a rising number of small and large brands alike are seeking items containing Environmental Working Group green grade ingredients.

K-beauty in the US

Products emanating from South Korea are now entering the US market. Therefore, unsurprisingly, K-beauty inspired ranges focus on multifunctional positioning, which resonates well with on-the-go US consumers.

Common messages centre on moisturising, anti-ageing, and brightening. The purpose of this is two-fold: Products strive to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete skin care routines, and also want to appeal to US beauty users who seek healthy and younger looking skin.

Creative textures and transformations are also attractive features as these generate a skin hydration effect.

“Most importantly, it's the K-Beauty's focus on delivering a fun and 'unique' experience that resonates with younger US consumers—it includes both evocative packaging as well as sensory effects such as skin feel,”​ highlighted Tyrrell.

Mass and pharmacy

Brands like Glow Recipe and Peach & Lily have developed their businesses on e-commerce platforms to produce K-Beauty inspired brands that sit on large retail marketplaces' shelves. Sephora and CVS Pharmacy are popular choices. 

Pharmacies promote a strong health and wellness message, which enables niche brands to entertain and capture shoppers when priced and promoted accordingly.

In today’s K-beauty market, the mass retailers’ commitment is to raise awareness to push beyond early adopters and engage lower and middle-income consumers. Personalised marketing to varying demographics and US consumers can strengthen this.

Peach & Lily, for example, launched nine products under the Peach Slices brand, while Glow Recipe showcases its own skin care products: Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask (which has amassed a huge waiting list) and Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser.

Soko Glam, for example, has teamed up with CosRx to create a vitamin C-based serum, Soko Glam X CosRx Triple C Lightning Liquid. Glow Recipe has also broadened its product offerings by partnering with South Korean brand Whamisa to develop 'Whamisa by Glow Recipe’s green tea-powered essential 4-step routine'.

The second part of this article, which will delve into social media marketing, cultural inspiration and innovations, will be published on 20th September 2017. 

Related topics: Market Trends, Skin Care

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