K-beauty vs eco: Cosmetics industry most significantly impacted sector by post-pandemic demand for greener products

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

A new survey by KITA has revealed that South Korea’s cosmetics industry was the most significantly impacted sector by the post-pandemic demand for eco-conscious products. [Getty Images]
A new survey by KITA has revealed that South Korea’s cosmetics industry was the most significantly impacted sector by the post-pandemic demand for eco-conscious products. [Getty Images]

Related tags K-Beauty Sustainability sustainable beauty Sustainable packaging green beauty Environment circular beauty South korea

A new survey by Korea International Trade Association (KITA) has revealed that South Korea’s cosmetics industry was the most significantly impacted sector by the post-pandemic demand for eco-conscious products.

A total of 409 consumer goods companies were surveyed, of which 19% were cosmetic companies.

More than half (51.3%) of these companies reported that the increasing consumer demand for eco-friendly products has had a large impact on their exports and sales.

In particular, 62.8% of the cosmetics companies surveyed reported that it had significantly influenced their exports and sales. This was just behind fashion (68.4%) and ahead of industries including household goods (53.7%) and food and beverages (53.3%).

More than half (52.1%) of the companies said the changes in demand for eco-friendly products increased after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

A majority of cosmetic companies (70.5%) felt that this post-pandemic trend had a significant impact on business, making it the most affected by the post-COVID eco-friendly product surge compared to fashion (57.9%), household goods (51.9%) and food (50%).

The survey revealed that 72% of companies observed that the export performance of eco-friendly products increased by 5% or more after the pandemic.

Responding to the green wave

According to the report, one in three companies had received enquiries about eco-friendly products or requests for greener alternatives from consumers.

Only 26.2% of respondents said they were exporting eco-friendly products. By industry, cosmetics (33.3%) had the highest percentage compared to household goods (31.5%) and fashion (29%). 

It said 65.4% of cosmetics companies were responding to the demand for eco-friendly products and that they were doing so by improving on packaging (37.9%), raw materials (24.8%) and production processes (11.8%).

However, 78.4% reported that they were not responding well enough to the eco demands. This appeared to be the case for other industries including fashion (81.6%), household goods (82.4%) and food (80%).

The biggest hurdles facing companies in terms of eco-conscious product development were the high prices associated with increased costs in areas such as research and development (31.2%).

Companies also cited financial support (25.7%) as well as difficulties in obtaining relevant certifications (19.3%) as some of the difficulties.

In light of this, companies requested support from the authorities in the form of financial support (25.7%), support for acquiring eco-friendly certifications (25.2%), marketing support (22.9%), as well as R&D support (15.9%).

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