2015 in review: The Asian-ification of cosmetics

2015 in review: The Asian-ification of cosmetics

It started with the BB cream – a Korean innovation endlessly emulated by multinationals everywhere. Yes, Asia’s influence on the wider cosmetics market has never been so strong.

Asian-ification (Asia’s increasing influence on innovation in beauty) is continuing to be one of the major growth factors in beauty, especially skin care,” explains Nicole Tyrimou, Beauty and Personal Care Analyst at Euromonitor International. “While influencing innovation through the introduction of new product concepts, Asian beauty brands are expanding well beyond their home market.”

And for no one is this more true than for AmorePacific, a South Korean brand that has gone truly global this year. Its exports have skyrocketed and are expected to break all records for a Korean cosmetics company in 2015, reaching US$200 million. The brand launched in Bloomingdales’ esteemed beauty hall this year and has plans for further global expansion too. 

Established global brands such as Shiseido are keen to capitalize on this new craze for all things Asian, with a marketing U-turn, emphasizing their eastern roots. “Shiseido’s Japanese heritage is very strong and very differentiating. We have been too shy about it in the past. To redress this, the idea now is to angle the brand on contemporary Japan, moving away from the classical to the contemporary. Shiseido represents Japanese values that are very important to all of us working in the company: respectful nature, attention to detail, high technology. These values are true to the brand and the group and they will carry us into the future. It is a very sincere message,” Shiseido’s Global Travel Retail Marketing Director Elisabeth Jouguelet revealed in an interview with The Moodie Report.

For multinationals with no cultural heritage to draw on, the answer was simple – buy it. To that end, Estée Lauder’s sole acquisition of the year (to date) was significant: a stake in the inventor of the original BB cream, Dr Jart+.

LVMH’s Dior, meanwhile, was clearly operating on an ‘if you can’t beat them, join them,’ basis when it signed a deal with AmorePacific to licence the brand’s infamous cushion technology. Lancôme, meanwhile, ushered in a Korean-inspired cushion foundation range.

And the power of the Asian dollar – or yuan, won or yen – is influencing product development, marketing and retail mix the world-over. With the Chinese economy struggling, and products still markedly more expensive at home, despite a reduction in import tariffs this year, Chinese tourists are travelling the world over in search of their favorite beauty products. As Lauder Asia Pacific President Fabrice Weber reveals: “We see consumers from China shifting channels, and therefore we see consumption from those consumers in places other than China. I can quote Japan as an example, Korea and even Europe.”

It appears the global beauty market’s best face in 2015 was uluzzang. And for 2016? We predict great things for Thailand and Vietnam.