How Did Korean Cosmetics Become So Popular Worldwide?

The explosion of Korean beauty products has been phenomenal for the past decade. A lot of growth in the beauty industry for the longest time in a country known to export electronics and infrastructure implements. Today, cosmetics is the country’s third biggest export next to electronics and cars. It is a surprise for everyone, even for Koreans themselves.

South Korea Growth in Cosmetics Industry by Samsung Economic Research Institute

So, how did Korean cosmetics become so popular worldwide? How did this small country make it big in such a competitive and high-risk industry?

Before South Korea, France and the US were world leaders in the beauty industry, with some companies even having hundreds of years of experience backing them up. From L’Oreal, Chanel, Maybelline, MAC, Clinique, Lancôme to Estée Lauder.  These are some of the global cosmetics brands famous all over the world. Even South Korea, along with its neighbors, is a big consumer of these products.

Enter the Korean beauty industry. Not only did it take South Korea by storm, but even the world over. It is now not uncommon to find American and European beauty bloggers using Asian beauty products and reviewing them. Even Hollywood stars like Emma Stone and Drew Barrymore swear by Korean products. Also posting photos of themselves on their social media accounts using these products.

What are the secrets to success behind Korean cosmetics’ sudden popularity? Here are some of them that many beauty brands would want to take note of:

1. Overwhelming government support

Korean Lip Mask tried by Emma Stone

It may sound unbelievable, but the South Korean government has a lot to say on how Korean cosmetics achieve such a global reach. For one, the government gives out generous tax incentives to South Korea-based cosmetics manufacturers that export to the US. If you solely export to the US, then you do not even have to pay for tax at all. It is the government’s move to encourage businesses to produce more products that can reach a global scale.

Aside from this tax incentive program, the government also provides subsidies for marketing and advertising expenses. As any business owner would know, marketing eats up a large chunk on a company’s resources. So, with the government stepping in to help out with marketing is a huge leap for many enterprises.

2. Popularity of K-pop and K-drama

The rise to fame of K-pop and K-drama at the same time of the explosion of Korean beauty products is no coincidence. It is a well-thought-out plan that apparently paid off. The huge fan base of many K-pop and K-drama stars is already a big market in itself. And then when you show these beautiful, handsome, and flawless stars on TV and ads, you get people who have never heard of K-pop hooked, too. K-pop, K-drama, and K-beauty. All coming together is like a match made in heaven. And it’s a combination that’s hard to miss if you come across them.

The South Korean government’s overwhelming support and the popularity of K-pop and K-drama may have paved the way for the Korean beauty industry to get into the phenomenal scale that it is in today. Its rise is a story of hope for all companies, big or small, and hopefully, South Korea’s success story serves as an inspiration to everyone.

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