K beauty and its packaging: TV programme on 16th November

"Hallyu"   – or the Korean wave – first appeared at the end of the 1990s, when the expression was coined by the Chinese press to describe the growing popularity of this entertainment culture from Seoul. 

With the success of "K dramas", followed by "K pop", the Gangnam district in Seoul became akin to the L.A of Asia, with studios, modelling agencies, etc.

Knowing the talent of these brand builders (such as Samsung, LG or Amore Pacific) and Korean women's passion for beauty (one woman in five is reported to have had cosmetic surgery, not counting the numerous "beauty tourists"), the "K beauty" craze comes as no surprise!

  • It first arrived in Asia: China, Hong Kong, Japan and South-East Asia, before reaching the U.S. and Europe. Exports of Korean cosmetics have risen 50% to reach USD 2.6 billion (2016 figures from the "pan-government on nation’s exports" conference), ahead of imports from countries with a strong beauty image such as the U.S., France and Japan. Forecasts for 2018 are USD 7 billion!
  • What are the reasons for this success, especially in the very crowded Beauty market, where packaging plays a key role? 

Innovation plays a major part:

In a country which has the highest R&D investment figure (according to the OECD, 4.4% of GDP), constant innovation followed by techno-culture and design have led to the emergence of different beauty brands each with their own particular universe, often in the mid-range segment, in step with expectations of the new target in China.

If you stroll through the main Myeong-dong road in Seoul, you will find many unique beauty shops, with their own exclusive personalities and distinctive packaging. This is what I will present to you as a preamble to the roundtable: from Tony Moly to Primera, via Etude House, Faceshop, Innisfree and Too cool for school.

K packaging ranges from funny to figurative (Tony Moly, which is now available at Sephora), kawaii (meaning cute, such as Etude House or Holika Holika) to almost retro. They have a couple of things in common: they don't take themselves seriously, and great attention is paid to detail, such as the tulle powder puff brush in the Swan Lake collection by Etude House or the egg-shaped case for the "egg pore" line by Tony Moly. 

Designer Sylvie de France will show and explain her amazing productions for the Princess Etoinette line by Etude House and her particular design which perfectly illustrates this approach.

"Emoticons", signs of techno-culture, from operators such as Kakao or Line, have made a remarkable foray into Beauty, as shown by the Kakao Friends line in partnership with Faceshop, or Missha with Line. This new graphic language used by young mobile users, of which an increasing number are making purchases from their mobile, could become a universal language for young beauty addicts!  

For every segment:

Premium brands are also hallmarking their personality: the first example of the AmorePacific group is Sulwhasoo for sophisticated packaging, which is spotlighted in its brand new flagship in Seoul: engraved and carved boxes, subtly shaded materials and material effects for its range of whitening products.

As a sign of openness to the world, the Hera brand promotes the Seoulista, a sort of Parisian from Asia, and has just released a limited edition with stylist Nicholas Kirkwood.

LG Care Household & Health Care, another major player on the market, also accepted our invitation. Two of their designers will be coming direct from Seoul to explain the trends and inspirations which govern their approaches for their brands O HUI and TheHistory of Whoo. OHUI's simple and futuristic lines feature a "magnet" spatula on the lid, while History of Whoo's attention to detail includes the covers of boxes which are embroidered and signed….

New gestures: 

 Let's not forget consumers: they will be represented by two bloggers from the site Les Mousquetettes. They will explain the success of new gestures and rituals initiated by Seoul: BB cream, CC cream, and, above all, the cushion or masks. Straight from Korea, they are leading to new packaging systems which are appearing on the international market and feeding the global beauty segment. The latest cushions by Dior or YSL attest to this. In make-up, we can expect mascara with a special brush for Asia, all kinds of applicators and many other "smart beauty" surprises.

As Korea, the home of Samsung, is ultra-connected, packaging is being adjusted accordingly and becoming a "smart beauty" tool. This trend is one to monitor closely…      

The K Beauty "Hallyu" wave has not yet broken and will continue to surprise us, leaving in its wake ideas and inspiration for packaging experts in the Beauty world! 

Caroline MOULIN
By Caroline Moulin
Founder of NAO design trends


TV programme on K beauty and its packaging on 16th November at 3.55pm with:

  • Mrs Caroline Moulin, founder of NAO design trends
  • LG Care: Mrs Hyo Jin Cho, O HUI designer and Mrs Hyojin Shin, The History of Whoo designer 
  • Sylvie de France, designer
  • Jehanne Pierson and Céline Sinko, co-founders of the beauty blog, Les Mousquetettes
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