By Kang Da-young and Lee Eun-joo
South Korean beauty products are gaining popularity in Europe where a growing number of consumers are seeking for diverse make-up and natural and organic ingredient-based skin-care items.
According to a report by Korea International Trade Association’s Brussels office on Tuesday, Korea exported a total 135.79 million euros ($158.9 million) worth of cosmetics to Europe last year, twelve-folding from 11.33 million euros in 2010 and up 46.8 percent from 2016. The dramatic jump has led Korea to become the fifth-biggest exporter of cosmetics to Europe last year, elbowing out Japan in the spot.
The United States was the biggest exporter of cosmetics to Europe last year with 1.21 billion euros, followed by China with 630.8 million euros, Switzerland with 574.1 million euros, and Canada with 136.99 million euros, according to the report.
Among Korean companies, Amorepacific Corp. opened an outlet for its luxury Sulwhasoo brand at a department store in the beauty mecca of Paris earlier this year and LG Household & Health Care Ltd. launched its herbal cosmetic brand Belif in France, Italy, and Germany.
The report found that European consumers have become fond of Korean beauty products because Korean cosmetics mostly use natural ingredients, such as ginseng, green tea leaves, and aloe instead of artificial chemical ingredients. The so-called K-beauty boom has been especially driven by changing trends in Europe where consumers increasingly prefer organic items and seek vegan or plant-based diet lifestyle, the reported noted. It also said that high quality, unrivalled manufacturing technique, reasonable prices, and diverse and innovative product lineup have contributed to a surge in demand for Korean beauty products in the region.
The report recommended that Korean companies wishing to become exporters to Europe register with the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP) and actively consider receiving vegan and environmentally-friendly certifications to reflect growing interest on natural cosmetics ingredients and also importance on corporate social responsibility.