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Six-Out-Of-Ten Korean Beauty Brands Shoppers Consider Korean Products As Innovative And Adapted To Their Skin

Four-out-of-Ten Respondents Open to Try Non-Korean Brands in the Future
French Products are Perceived Most Positively for Reputation and Quality

According to the Korea Customs Service cosmetics exports showed explosive growth of 1,500 percent from 1998-2012 [1]. In fact, Nielsen’s recent findings also showed that two-out-of-three consumers from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore discovered Korean beauty brands in the last 2 years. Since then, the popularity of Korean products has grown. In fact, more than 40% of the respondents who bought Korean beauty brands were planning to spend more on key brands in the next six months.

Nielsen’s study analyzed the shopping behavior and experience of female consumers of Korean beauty brands from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, to better understand the perception and success of Korean beauty brands. The survey is based on online interviews [2] with 1,900 women aged 18-55, who have purchased Korean beauty products for their personal use in the past 6 months. Apart from brand perception, it also explores consumers’ beauty routine and purchase journey, their usage and purchase frequency, reasons to buy, overall shopping experience, beauty basket composition, budget and their future shopping intentions.

Perception of Korean Culture and Beauty Products with Others

According to the findings, respondents from China showed a greater interest towards Korean television programming, music, celebrities and fashions. Chinese respondents were also paid the most attention to products and brands in media, and were most likely to buy the products used by their favorite characters. Interestingly, respondents from Hong Kong were most likely to ignore such product placements (11%).

“Our study showed a direct correlation between interest in Korean entertainment and interest in Korean cosmetic brands, particularly among consumers in China” said Yvonne Lum, vice president, Sales Effectiveness, Nielsen.

Respondents from the four markets showed similar perceptions of Korean-made cosmetics, describing them as “very innovative”, “trendy” and having “value-for-money”. For non-Korean brands, Chinese respondents, in particular, believed that French beauty products had good reputation, whereas consumers from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore voted for Japanese cosmetics. Consumers from Hong Kong had a positive perception of European brands, citing “good reputation (63%), “high quality” (62%) and “proven efficacy” (49%).

In terms of the beauty products shopping basket, Korean brands were top choice among four regions for personal use. However, when it comes to gifts consumers from China, Taiwan and Singapore prefer gifting international brands. Also, Chinese respondents are more likely to shop online for beauty. This echoes one of Nielsen’s previous surveys, which shows that Chinese cosmetic consumers actively engage and interact with brands and online communities before actual purchasing [source].

 “While Korea was seen by consumers as their next beauty shopping destination, their loyalty towards Korean brands were different when it comes to shopping for personal use or as a gift, providing a potential gain for international brands from switching,” said Lum.

Why Do Consumers Shop for Korean Beauty Products?

While cultural or climate differences would have a change on the buying decision, Korean-brands buyers from the four markets shared the same perspective; they all considered hydration and deep skin cleansing as the top two benefits of beauty products. When consumers shop for beauty products, the beauty advisors’ expertise was essential for most of the respondents, particularly amongst Korean beauty brands users from China and Singapore.

“For international beauty brands, they are still associated by consumers to be of good quality with sound reputation,” said Lum. “Whether they can be successful in the market relies on their strategies in terms of innovation and product variants, in particular, focus strongly on the hydration benefits or more adapted to Asian market.”

[1] Source:

[2] While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration is still growing, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population. In addition, survey responses are based on claimed behavior, rather than actual metered data.