South Korea's Lipstick Generation

South Koreans have taken to cosmetics with a vengeance, according to a report by the Seoul-based Samsung Economic Research Institute, with the market propelled by new dynamics including rising life expectancy and desire for wellness and anti-aging products delivered with new high-technology products and methods.

The market has been growing at a steady 10.4 percent annually, rising from W5.6 trillion (US$4.944 billion) in 2006 to nearly W9 trillion today, easily outstripping annual average retail sales growth of 6.1 percent in the same period. Even in 2009, when Korea’s economy shrank to GDP growth of only 0.3 percent, the cosmetics market zoomed upwards by 11.8 percent.

Cosmetics use has spread far beyond just women, to men, teenagers and even senior citizens, according to the report, written by Research Fellow Kang Chan-Koo. Skin care is the biggest growth driver, accounting for 48 percent of Korea’s total cosmetics market, and growing much faster than segments such as makeup and perfumes.

Korea’s personal care industry is going high-tech, SERI says, with development accelerating and converging with various high technologies. The model governing the industry’s competitiveness is focusing not only on changes in market conditions and trends but also technology and effectiveness. Generally, high-tech industries face considerable market and technology uncertainties. Against this background, the cosmetics industry is expected to experience major changes.

In basic research, SERI reports, “biotechnology is expected to become increasingly more important due to advanced research in protecting skin from aging. In the development stage, electronics, information technology, food and medical technologies will intersect, leading to the development of converged products and solutions. In marketing, as consumers' knowledge increases, advertising highlighting research and development and stressing high-tech materials will be an appealing point rather than emphasis on image.”

A deeper understanding of human biology, including the interpretation of human genetic maps, has enabled the shift of cosmetics technology research from formula and texture to skin aging prevention and treatment. The number of research papers on skin aging has skyrocketed, from 25 in 1991 to 119 last year. At the same time, the focus of anti-aging studies has moved from removal of dead skin cell and collagen synthesis to comprehensive approaches, including cellular life span and metabolism.

The report notes that some global cosmetics companies already have become early developers of high-function cosmetics based on biotechnology. L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics company, devoted 10 years of research on 4,400 genes and 1,300 proteins that have the most relevance to skin aging. It resulted in gene-activating serum, Genifique, which became an instant global sensation. One Genifique product is sold every four seconds.

Among cosmetics companies moving into bioscience are AmorePacific, Korea's No. 1 cosmetics manufacturer, which has established a bioscience R&D center, while LG Household and Health Care, another leading Korean cosmetics company, formed a technology partnership with renowned women's hospital Cha Medical Center on stem cell research.

Convergence solutions

To deliver enhanced effect and quality, medical and other technology-based solutions are being added to cosmetics. One of the most promising products is cosmetic patches, the report notes, which are being developed with active ingredients with a high degree of skin permeation ability. Advanced patches will be developed, including ones that deliver a mild electric current or drug to the skin.

Cosmetics that converge with other industries such as electronics devices, smartphones and health foods will also gain popularity, the report continues. Beauty devices using electronic controls and optical technologies are increasingly being rolled out as are skin cleansing devices.

Nutricosmetics, combining cosmetics with food, is a segment that is already having a pronounced presence. Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido launched "In & On" in 2010, formulated to maximize skin care effects by combining cosmetics with beauty drinks and supplements. New products are recently being added to the brand, including whitening, anti-wrinkle, neck care and body slimming.

The report cites beauty consulting businesses that diagnose individuals' skin condition for recommendation of optimal products or sell customized products, which are also rising. One of the companies that attracted attention at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was Ahrong Eltech, a Korean small- and medium-sized facial beauty products manufacturer, which presented "DermaScan," a sensor skin assessment which can deliver the results to a smartphone and is linked to a guide to online shopping sites.

Technology/ingredient marketing

As beauty-related information proliferates on the Internet and TV, knowledge about cosmetics is rapidly being accumulated among consumers. On "Powder Room," Korea's leading beauty community site, 230,000 members exchange beauty tips and product experiences daily. Korea's cable TV program "Get It Beauty" is becoming increasingly popular by broadcasting blind tests that compare only the quality of beauty products, rather than their brand or image.

Cosmetics experts and ordinary people participate to review products for spreadability, stickiness and color, etc., the report notes, with products ranked No. 1 or 2 on the show becoming bestsellers. In this way, consumer word of mouth, expert reviews and product testimonials are becoming more influential, spotlighting the technology and effectiveness embedded in the product.

Proctor & Gamble's (P&G) leading brand, SK-II, has actively used the development story behind its "Pitera" ingredient based on yeast culture; it noticed that brewers had baby soft hands. By doing this, SK-II was able to simultaneously attract customer attention and increase consumer confidence in its brand.

Along with the Korean Wave including the K-pop boom, enhanced national brand competitiveness and upgraded cosmetics quality, Korea's cosmetics industry is transforming into a high value-added export industry from a domestic seller. Korea's cosmetics exports climbed to US$600 million in 2010 from US$80 million in 2001. No. 1 company AmorePacific jumped to 16th in global ranking of cosmetics makers in 2011 from 25th in 2005.

However, Korea still lacks technologies to lead the future cosmetics markets such as dermatology, bio cosmetics and beauty convergence solutions. Domestic cosmetic firms are far behind their overseas peers in R&D. For example, L' Oreal's R&D investment is more than seven-fold that of the total Korean cosmetic industry. Korea's cosmetic companies must rapidly cultivate their technological capabilities through a "choose and concentrate" strategy, focusing on specific areas such as the genetics of aging and stems cells. Conducting joint research with universities and medical institutions renowned for their basic research is also advisable. The fate of the high-tech industry is largely determined by two factors; R&D and high-tech marketing. Companies must concentrate their resources and capabilities in R&D. In particular, they must take advantage of the technological innovations in fast developing fields such as biotechnology, advanced materials, electronics and IT the report concludes. South Korea’s Lipstick Generation Cosmetics is the new obsession in Seoul, report says Our Correspondent South Koreans have taken to cosmetics with a vengeance, according to a report by the Seoul-based Samsung Economic Research Institute, with the market propelled by new dynamics including rising life expectancy and desire for wellness and anti-aging products delivered with new high-technology products and methods.

The market has been growing at a steady 10.4 percent annually, rising from W5.6 trillion (US$4.944 billion) in 2006 to nearly W9 trillion today, easily outstripping annual average retail sales growth of 6.1 percent in the same period. Even in 2009, when Korea’s economy shrank to GDP growth of only 0.3 percent, the cosmetics market zoomed upwards by 11.8 percent.

Cosmetics use has spread far beyond just women, to men, teenagers and even senior citizens, according to the report, written by Research Fellow Kang Chan-Koo. Skin care is the biggest growth driver, accounting for 48 percent of Korea’s total cosmetics market, and growing much faster than segments such as makeup and perfumes.

Korea’s personal care industry is going high-tech, SERI says, with development accelerating and converging with various high technologies. The model governing the industry’s competitiveness is focusing not only on changes in market conditions and trends but also technology and effectiveness. Generally, high-tech industries face considerable market and technology uncertainties. Against this background, the cosmetics industry is expected to experience major changes.

In basic research, SERI reports, “biotechnology is expected to become increasingly more important due to advanced research in protecting skin from aging. In the development stage, electronics, information technology, food and medical technologies will intersect, leading to the development of converged products and solutions. In marketing, as consumers' knowledge increases, advertising highlighting research and development and stressing high-tech materials will be an appealing point rather than emphasis on image.”

A deeper understanding of human biology, including the interpretation of human genetic maps, has enabled the shift of cosmetics technology research from formula and texture to skin aging prevention and treatment. The number of research papers on skin aging has skyrocketed, from 25 in 1991 to 119 last year. At the same time, the focus of anti-aging studies has moved from removal of dead skin cell and collagen synthesis to comprehensive approaches, including cellular life span and metabolism.

The report notes that some global cosmetics companies already have become early developers of high-function cosmetics based on biotechnology. L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics company, devoted 10 years of research on 4,400 genes and 1,300 proteins that have the most relevance to skin aging. It resulted in gene-activating serum, Genifique, which became an instant global sensation. One Genifique product is sold every four seconds.

Among cosmetics companies moving into bioscience are AmorePacific, Korea's No. 1 cosmetics manufacturer, which has established a bioscience R&D center, while LG Household and Health Care, another leading Korean cosmetics company, formed a technology partnership with renowned women's hospital Cha Medical Center on stem cell research.

Convergence solutions

To deliver enhanced effect and quality, medical and other technology-based solutions are being added to cosmetics. One of the most promising products is cosmetic patches, the report notes, which are being developed with active ingredients with a high degree of skin permeation ability. Advanced patches will be developed, including ones that deliver a mild electric current or drug to the skin.

Cosmetics that converge with other industries such as electronics devices, smartphones and health foods will also gain popularity, the report continues. Beauty devices using electronic controls and optical technologies are increasingly being rolled out as are skin cleansing devices.

Nutricosmetics, combining cosmetics with food, is a segment that is already having a pronounced presence. Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido launched "In & On" in 2010, formulated to maximize skin care effects by combining cosmetics with beauty drinks and supplements. New products are recently being added to the brand, including whitening, anti-wrinkle, neck care and body slimming.

The report cites beauty consulting businesses that diagnose individuals' skin condition for recommendation of optimal products or sell customized products, which are also rising. One of the companies that attracted attention at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was Ahrong Eltech, a Korean small- and medium-sized facial beauty products manufacturer, which presented "DermaScan," a sensor skin assessment which can deliver the results to a smartphone and is linked to a guide to online shopping sites.

Technology/ingredient marketing

As beauty-related information proliferates on the Internet and TV, knowledge about cosmetics is rapidly being accumulated among consumers. On "Powder Room," Korea's leading beauty community site, 230,000 members exchange beauty tips and product experiences daily. Korea's cable TV program "Get It Beauty" is becoming increasingly popular by broadcasting blind tests that compare only the quality of beauty products, rather than their brand or image.

Cosmetics experts and ordinary people participate to review products for spreadability, stickiness and color, etc., the report notes, with products ranked No. 1 or 2 on the show becoming bestsellers. In this way, consumer word of mouth, expert reviews and product testimonials are becoming more influential, spotlighting the technology and effectiveness embedded in the product.

Proctor & Gamble's (P&G) leading brand, SK-II, has actively used the development story behind its "Pitera" ingredient based on yeast culture; it noticed that brewers had baby soft hands. By doing this, SK-II was able to simultaneously attract customer attention and increase consumer confidence in its brand.

Along with the Korean Wave including the K-pop boom, enhanced national brand competitiveness and upgraded cosmetics quality, Korea's cosmetics industry is transforming into a high value-added export industry from a domestic seller. Korea's cosmetics exports climbed to US$600 million in 2010 from US$80 million in 2001. No. 1 company AmorePacific jumped to 16th in global ranking of cosmetics makers in 2011 from 25th in 2005.

However, Korea still lacks technologies to lead the future cosmetics markets such as dermatology, bio cosmetics and beauty convergence solutions. Domestic cosmetic firms are far behind their overseas peers in R&D. For example, L' Oreal's R&D investment is more than seven-fold that of the total Korean cosmetic industry. Korea's cosmetic companies must rapidly cultivate their technological capabilities through a "choose and concentrate" strategy, focusing on specific areas such as the genetics of aging and stems cells. Conducting joint research with universities and medical institutions renowned for their basic research is also advisable. The fate of the high-tech industry is largely determined by two factors; R&D and high-tech marketing. Companies must concentrate their resources and capabilities in R&D. In particular, they must take advantage of the technological innovations in fast developing fields such as biotechnology, advanced materials, electronics and IT the report concludes.