Korean cosmetics brands products in China


Unlike Western cosmetic brands, Korean cosmetics manufacturers see their popularity growing in China day by day in China. Western brands are reaching a mature stage on the beauty sector in China, and the most wanted products by Chinese are often from Big and internationally well-known brands such as Estee Lauder, Lancôme or La Mer. In the other site, whether it is niche, high end, or well-known brand, beauty products from Korea are catching Chinese consumer’s attention.

Korea is a strong competitor

While the economy in China showed some signs of slow down, Chinese tourists redesigned their travel options and turned to South Korea. This new trend of Chinese tourism in Korea has allowed South Korean beauty brands to be better known by Chinese customers. This has supported a steady growth in the popularity of Korean cosmetics among Chinese consumers, even if they were already quite influenced by Korean KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders).

According to a study conducted by L2inc, an analysis agency for luxury goods, the interest of Chinese for Western cosmetics is in slight decline while the South Korean cosmetics produce very good results. The figures show that nearly a quarter of cosmetic imports into China come from South Korea. L2’s research director said South Korea was a source of innovation in the area of beauty products, and also, a significant number of cosmetics such as Korean anti-blemish balm and foundation were imitated by Western brands.

Korea is gaining ground in the Chinese cosmetic sector

The Korean cosmetics industry will become a real competitor for Western brands. Korean brands whether present on the web or not, are already developing their market abroad (China, and more recently the United States). Chinese bloggers and vloggers have already begun to talk about these Korean products, introducing them to a broad audience of millions of Chinese netizens, in other words, potential customers.

In addition, Korean Dramas are very hot in China, and young female consumers often get influenced by what’s on the screen. There already was a “Korean-style fashion” time in China.

K-POP also represents a channel of promotion

The growing popularity of fashion magazines, cosmetics bloggers, and also k-pop music stars are establishing the commercial expansion of the Korean cosmetics industry in China. As for Korean dramas, K-Pop is very appreciated by Chinese young people. They are particularly active on the Web and take part in sharing and promoting the songs. They also pay a close attention to the music clip and the appearance of their favorite stars.

Korean products imported into China has increased by 250%

The Data shows that the value of Korean products imported into China has increased by 250%, of which 126% for cosmetics. Western brands have witnessed a relative decline. In 2014, sales of skin care products fell by 4.8% and those of make-up by 3.8%.

It seems that Korean cosmetics brands know well how to leverage the power of online marketing, which allows them to be comfortably seated in the Chinese market. We can indeed wonder if the similarity between the two cultures helps Korean brands to meet more the expectations of their Chinese customers.

Online awareness is crucial in China

Further studies by L2inc have shown that the popularity of Korean brands keeps growing on Chinese online platforms, especially on Baidu and Weibo (search engine and blog). Many of the most famous Korean beauty brands such as Innisfree and Laneíge are doing well on the Chinese Internet. Laneíge had an index on Baidu of 11194, which means the brand earned 89% increase in searches during the last year. Western brands like Kiehl’s, Estée Lauder, Sephora and Lancôme (LVMH group) remain still at the top of Baidu indexes. However, Laneíge reigns over Weibo, being the focus of discussions more than 2100 times a month. From a general point of view, South Korean cosmetic brands are mentioned 42 times more than the average index.

Korean cosmetics brands are among the tops brands on e-commerce platforms

Beside their expansion on Chinese’s research platform, Korean brands have already ensured their presence on Tmall (the Chinese equivalent of Amazon.com), one of the leaders in the Chinese’s e-commerce industry. Three of them are among the 10 most sought-after brands on Tmall, they are alongside major Western brands such as L’Oréal Paris, Chanel and Estée Lauder, but also with Chinese brands and the Japanese well-reputed brand Shiseido. Innisfree is currently the queen, which focuses the most research on Baidu, Taobao, and Youku (the Chinese YouTube).

Chinese’s e-commerce industry

Innisfree has taken into account the Chinese netizens’ preferences and habits by using k-pop celebrities to promote its products and also to create a marketing campaign using WeChat. One of the WeChat posts had more than 10,000 views as the campaign recorded more than 17.7 million pages generated and was the subject of more than 36,000 discussions on Weibo.

Which social platforms have been leveraged?

Wechat: the first social media app in China

The most used Chinese app for communication. WeChat has become a powerful marketing tool as well for an individual entrepreneur as international companies. You can create your brand’s account on WeChat to keep in touch with your Chinese target consumers. A WeChat official account is a kind micro-website, where you can post news, put your contact information, create an event, even open a WeChat Store for selling. What makes WeChat better than any other social media platform is that when you upload new articles, there is an alert on users’ WeChat main page. Every person who is following your account will be noticed. In addition, everyone in China uses WeChat daily. It’s the must-have APP here.

Weibo: most popular Chinese microblogging website

Weibo is also a popular social media platform, as of Q1 2018, it has over 411 million monthly active users. It is for sure far from WeChat’s 1 billion MAU but they are used differently. Whereas on WeChat, you have to let users follow you first if you want them to read your contents, on Weibo, it’s more open, anyone can see your account and your activity. Weibo is used to increase a brand’s awareness and visibility online.

We can sum up the marketing strategies used by Korean cosmetics brands:

  • Leveraging social media
  • Promoting with KOLs
  • Presence on e-commerce platforms
  • Optimization on Chinese Search engine (Baidu)

We can provide you with these services. GMA is the most visible marketing agency in China. We are specialized in the digital field and on Chinese consumers. If you have a project to develop in China, whether it is to sell products or services, we bring you the solutions.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

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