With a turnover for the cosmetic market of EUR 9.7 billion, an increase of 10% per year, and more than 700 companies active in this area, Korea is THE country for who wishes to focus on this sector. “The market is highly concentrated, driven by music, Internet sales, TV shopping where it is very easy with the remote control to select the desired product and have it delivered at home on the same day,” said Forence Bernardin. Everything goes very quickly in this country where, according to Kim Eun-Hee, Global Vice President Sales & Marketing at Hwa Sung Cosmetics “everyone is very busy, even stressed, but must nonetheless have a flawless look and a relaxed appearance.” Looks are essential.

From left to right: Lee Eunim, Damien Dufresne, Cho Im Rae

From left to right: Lee Eunim, Damien Dufresne, Cho Im Rae

Specific beauty rituals

And for that, both women and men take great care of their looks. “Young boys want to look gorgeous, look like actors playing in dramas (Korean serials where men appear very neat, even quite feminine),” underlined Lee Eunim, Vice President makeup value division at Amore Pacific. “Having a flawless look is a sign of politeness,” added Damien Dufresne, makeup advisor for Amore Pacific.

The recourse to cosmetic surgery is common practice in Korea and radiates to other markets. “Korea is the 1st market in the world in terms of cosmetic surgery; operations to recover lower baby eyelids for example, the “charming eye line”, are highly prized,” according to Bernardin. Having a perfect complexion is very important and women do not hesitate to use between 15 and 17 different beauty products every day. “The beauty routine of Korean women is one of the longest in the world with an average duration of 30 minutes and with 15 to 17 products applied,” testified Bernardin.

Colours used are retained, transparency, brightness are preserved. “In Korea, women have a very sophisticated but discreet make-up, no detail is left aside, while in France, some specific areas will be preferred, like the lips or the eye area. Korean women do not associate to make-up the festive side that French women can see in it,” complemented Dufresne.

A great capacity for innovation and a strong sense of service

Foundation in sticks, mascaras with an ultra-fine brush, wet and oily textures, vibrating applicators, BB creams, CC creams: innovations abound on the Korean market, whether in terms of concepts, packages, applicators or textures and are exported overseas. China, Japan and the U.S. are their main partners.

For example Air Cushion, the product proposed by Amore Pacific, consisting of a sponge soaked with a foundation that is picked up with another sponge, generates USD 5 million in sales. “It is a phenomenal success both in Korea and abroad, this patent protected product provides a quick make-up with a light finish, a fresh feeling and good results in terms of skin hydration,” explained Lee Eunim.

The creativity of our teams is constant, we discuss and exchange a lot to improve existing products and launch new ones” underlined JK Hwang the CEO of FS Korea.

Quality requirements are also high and the service is impeccable. “We have a great deal of responsiveness,” added Cho Im Rae CEO of Cosmecca. Development times are short and in line with the constant products renewal. “Korea is a technology-driven country, products are very quickly available and renewed,” detailed Bernardin.

In addition, Koreans have a more global vision of their business, which cannot be separated from service. “Orders are delivered at home just a few hours after the order was placed, and if the client is not satisfied, a person is sent at his home to retrieve it, and this, whatever the day of the week,” explained Dufresne.

Korea is revealing itself to the cosmetic world as a land of inspiration and innovation where quality is synonymous with service. “This country will turn out as the key supplier of future years, if it is not already of presently times,” concluded Bernardin