It all started in 2012 with Gangnam Style dance steps that put Korean Culture in the spotlight. South Korea is still in the limelight through not only the popularity of k-pop and k-dramas around Asia but also due to the rise of the k-beauty phenomenon which has transformed the beauty industry across the globe.
K-Love is expanding in Asia and moving beyond beauty
The influence of Korean dramas and Korean pop has been unprecedented, not just in the beauty industry but also for luxury, apparel, consumer electronics and consumer food services, thanks to the items getting featured in the drams and music videos.
People have started following Korean actors and performers for their choices of food, clothing and beauty products. Following the influence these celebrities have, big brands in Korea are perusing them for endorsement. Like from the famous soap opera from 2012, ‘My Love from the Star’, the male star, Kim Soo-Hyun has become the face of Korean beauty brand Beyond (LG Household & Health Care) for women’s skin care.
Furthermore, the so-called chimek trend (a play on the Korean words for fried chicken and beer), which was the favourite snack of the female actress in the show, became an instant success in China. Luxury products from brands like Cartier, Chanel, Christian Dior, Paul Smith, DKNY and Céline, showcased in the shows have helped boost demand for the particular items worn and used by the artists.
In Indonesia, the increasing popularity of k-pop has affected not only fashion and beauty but children’s wear too. Imported fashion from Korea is not only considered cooler but is also more affordable than international brands.
Magnum Ice Cream launched Magnolia K-Pop ice cream in the Philippines riding on the popularity of Korean pop culture targeting young consumers who also switching from American brands to Korean in apparel and footwear.
Korean Wave Goes West
Outside Asia, the most touched market by the Korean wave have been the US and Canada. Large Asian immigrant populations in Canada have transformed the market to a heaven for Korean brands for food, fashion and beauty.
International brands have been exploring consumer’s fascination with South Korea beauty. Estée Lauder’s investment in Have & Be Co. Ltd(owner of Korean brands DR Jart+ and Do The Right Thing) as well as La Prairie’s and Chanel’s launch of products such as essences and emulsions are other ways that multinationals are looking to tap into consumers increasing desire for Korean-inspired beauty offerings.
A high influx of tourists from Asia is expected to drive demand for other industries, unlike for beauty where local demand for Korean products is already surging due to the heavy media buzz around the innovation, efficiency and affordability of these products as well as their quirky image.