K Beauty, which refers to Korea's cosmetics, is positioned as an icon of innovation with reasonable prices, excellent quality, and creative ideas in the world cosmetic market. Only a few years ago, Korea, which had not attracted much attention in the cosmetics field, is now receiving the attention of the world by the efforts of industry officials who have continued to challenge innovation. The government also played a significant role in providing various policy support for the globalization of K Beauty.
Someone believes that the success of K beauty today is attributable to the influence of Korean Wave, “Hallyu“ such as K-POP and K-Drama. However, this view is half-true and half-wrong. It is true that the Korean Wave triggered the attention of the world on K-beauty. However, maintaining steady popularity and growth is the result of the industry's efforts and passion for meeting the diverse needs of the world.
Stepping away from the beneficiary products of the Korean wave, K Beauty is now writing a new history as a growth engine that leads the new Korean wave and Korean industry. Cosmetics are cultural goods, and culture is a measure of developed countries. The status of K Beauty is playing a role not only to develop the industry but also to enhance the image and excellence of the country.
Status of Korean Cosmetic Industry
As of the end of 2018, the number of MFDSMinistries of Food and Drug Safety – registered cosmetic manufactures is 2,244. Brand sales companies (depending on the OEM·ODM or imports without manufacturing facilities) are over 12,494. In 2017, total cosmetic production reached 13,515.5 billion KRW, and in 2018, it is anticipated to reach nearly 15 trillion KRW with a two-digit growth rate. The total amount of K-Beauty exports is estimated to reach 6.26 billion USD, while imports are 1.61 billion USD. It is noteworthy that the amount of export, 6.26 billion USD ranked 4th in the world, following France (1st), USA (2nd), and Germany (3rd). Remarkably, K-Beauty's overseas exports rose 60 times from 2000 to 2018. Considering that Korea's overall average growth rate in the export of all Korean industry has risen just by 3.5 times during the same period, it is a remarkable achievement.
Exports increased by the average annual growth rate of 35.2% during the past five years, from 2014 to 2018, while imports grew only by 3.9%. The annual trade surplus is growing. Notably, the trend of export to China, the largest customer of K-Beauty, demonstrates that 'the quality goes beyond political issues.' Cosmetics continued strong exports growth even as conflicts between the two countries peaked due to the issues like THAADTerminal High Altitude Area Defense.
Nearly 130 countries worldwide are importing K-beauty cosmetics, reflecting that consumers around the whole world are enjoying K-Beauty. Especially, the fact that the exports to Europe and USA, which are the cosmetics powerhouses, are growing year by year, demonstrates the strength and potential of K-Beauty.
Three innovative products leading K Beauty Success Story
Innovation is the most important driving force behind today's K beauty success story. 'BB Cream,' 'Mask Pack' and 'Air Cushion,' which are being loved by people all over the world, are the heroes of the K beauty success story.
'BB Cream' was originally developed for medical use in Germany to cover burns and scars. Korean researchers have developed a new concept 'BB Cream' that is re-designed for easy use by the general public. Korean BB Cream is an innovative product that has liberated women from the hassle of using many types of cosmetics. This is the reason why BB Cream is praised as a leading product for K Beauty Success.
The following is the 'Mask Pack,' which is the main product of K Beauty. 'Mask Pack' is the leading product of K Beauty that has informed the world of excellence and creativity of K Beauty and has contributed to the recognition of Korea as the master country for 'Mask Pack.' Today, “Hot“ is not enough to explain the fervor of the world around Mask Pack. The world was enthusiastic about the fact that Mask Pack supplies the active ingredients for the skin for a long time in a convenient way.
The reasonable price range also serves as an attractive factor, and it is at the forefront of exports, creating a new make-up culture called 'One pack a day' among Chinese people, the biggest customers of K Beauty.
This popularity is expected to grow even further as it spreads to the Middle East, the Americas, and Europe, that are promising next-generation export destinations for K Beauty.
Air Cushion' is also an innovative product that changed the makeup culture of women all over the world, impressing the world with excellence and creativity of K-Beauty. In 2008, AMOREPACIFIC succeeded in the commercialization of this product for the first time in the world, and it has been at the center of topics and issues for the past decade, that has triggered the “Me-too“ development among world-famous cosmetic companies such as Chanel and L'Oreal.