What Korean & Western Beauty Partnerships Mean for the Future of K-Beauty
As we see more and more cross-pollination between Korean and Western beauty brands — whether through partnerships, acquisitions, or minority shares — what does this mean for our beloved K-beauty brands?
So remember the time that K-beauty was seen as the “weird” beauty fad?
“Oh, those silly people putting snail goop on their faces!”
“Sheet masks? Never heard of them.”
“There’s no way people will use 10 products in their skincare routines. It’s not realistic.”
Well, joke’s on them. In my opinion, Korean beauty has completely changed the way the beauty industry operates, and I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Western brands are finally realizing the power of K-beauty and have set their sights on getting a piece of the multi-billion dollar pie. Let’s look at some of the news headlines from the past few years.
“Milk Makeup Announces Strategic Partnership With Amorepacific Group” — Business Wire
“Estée Lauder to Buy Dr. Jart Owner in First Asian Brand Takeover” — Business of Fashion
“L’Oréal acquires Korean Stylenanda” — L’Oréal Finance
“Amorepacific acquires minority stake in U.S. indie brand Milk Makeup” — Global Cosmetic News
“LVMH arm buys slice of Seoul cosmetics firm CLIO” — Reuters
“Unilever to buy Carver Korea [A.H.C.] for $2.7 billion” — CNBC
And this isn’t including the expansion of K-beauty brands into the Western market — Korean beauty brands are popping up in Western stores like popcorn. Sephora now carries Primera, Innisfree, Laneige, Belif, Dr. Jart+, and Saturday Skin. Ulta carries Skinfood, COSRX, Mamonde, Tony Moly, Too Cool for School, and Klairs. Target stocks Missha and Mizon. You can now go into CVS and get Banila Co. Cleansing Balm and Peripera lip tints. Walgreens sells Mediheal sheet masks. In news that shocked me, Walmart sells Son and Park Beauty Water, May Coop, and Polatam sheet masks. And then you have all of the homegrown Korean beauty-inspired brands like Glow Recipe, Peach and Lily, Then I Met You, and Krave Beauty.
So … all of this news has me thinking. What is the future of K-beauty? With more Western companies and brands buying out or forming strategic partnerships with Korean brands (and vice versa), what does that mean for K-beauty? Will K-beauty end up being this watered-down version of itself to cater to the Western market? Or will Western beauty companies step their game up and embrace the R&D and innovation Korean beauty is known for?
Personally, I think the future of K-beauty will be the best of both worlds. I think (and my hope is) Western brands will take the research and development teams, the innovative technology, and the advanced ingredients that Korean beauty is known for, and combine that with U.S.-friendly marketing, shade ranges, and products that appeal to a wider range of consumers. So I’m thinking BB cream technology but with Fenty Beauty’s shade range. Hanbang ingredients like ginseng made mainstream. More focus on skincare ingredient education on U.S.-based websites. Hydrating toners and balm makeup cleansers widely available in drugstores and department stores alike. And the power of the snail finally, fully realized everywhere. Swoon. The dream!
So, let’s open the floor for discussion. What do you think about these Korean and Western beauty partnerships? Where do you think K-beauty is headed? Let me know in the comments!