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The Most Popular Brands & Products in Korea in 2023

December 27, 2023

The Most Popular Brands & Products in Korea in 2023

The Most Popular Brands & Products in Korea in 2023

On Episode 231 to wrap up 2023, Lauren is wrapping up the most popular brands and products in Korea this year.

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EPISODE SUMMARY 

This is a topic that fascinates a lot of people, particularly as they realise that what's trending locally in Korea is often quite different to the products that are trending overseas. Some people take a really skeptical position about that, as though brands that are purposely targeting the global market are somehow underhanded or sneaky.

I take a very different position and that is because I see this as a natural phenomenon. As the industry matures and expands globally, the products and brands trending domestically in Korea are increasingly diverging from those trending overseas. This is also reflected in preferences for ingredients as well. I don't view this anywhere near as skeptically as some people seem to. There is very much an undercurrent of superiority to a lot of these discussions that sounds a lot to me like, "You poor suckers being conned into thinking that this stuff is popular in Korea when no Korean has ever even heard of this". 

I just find this to be an interesting take that doesn't really make a lot of sense. That's because I see this as a natural result of Korean beauty being marketed in different regions of the world, via different social media apps and in multiple languages. This is exactly what happens when something goes global. I expect that the division between what's trending domestically vs overseas will only widen as time goes on.

The most popular brands and products in Korea  

Even travelling around the world I can really see how brands are tailoring their products and approaches to the local market. It can come down to subtle preferences for BB Creams and cushions vs foundations.

The other thing I don't think a lot of "K-Beauty purists" necessarily take into account when they are busy dumping on globally popular products is that there are very real cultural and local differences that dictate what is trending; practical considerations like the weather. When I was in Dubai for the BeautyWorld Expo this was a very real consideration for a lot of the beauty buyers I was speaking to; namely, "Is this product going to be suitable for the weather in the UAE / India / Pakistan etc?" 

It is not a crazy thing to think that brands that are active in those markets will be coming up with different formulations that will work for the local market and conditions.

I do not think that brands are trying to dupe or trick you when they make but don't sell their products in Korea. The reasons behind this choice are not always nefarious. A lot of the times when this discussion takes place the clear implication is that there's something dodgy going on if the brand has made the choice not to sell in the domestic Korean market or not to prioritise local sales.

Most popular brands and products in Korea in 2023

However, changes to the regulations over the last few years have made it a lot more difficult for indie beauty brands to take off in Korea and the stance has become a lot more protectionist. There can be a lot of issues in a brand's global supply chain if they are selling in Korea because the pricing here tends to be different. That's a reason why a lot of bigger brands that are made in Korea won't necessarily sell here. 

People also assume that it is easy to be stocked here in Korea because of how popular beauty is within Korea. However, nothing could be further from the truth, particularly post-pandemic when there are fewer offline retailers than ever before. As it is in other countries, it's all about who you know and how well connected you are. 

Most Popular Brands and Products in Korea in 2023

 

Top Trending Products and Brands in Korea 

Theses are the brands and products that have captured the local market here in Korea in 2023:

 

Globally, the trends differ from region to region. Popular brands globally include Beauty of Joseon (set to hit USD $200 million in sales) and COSRX

In Australia, Jelly Ko is the best selling brand on stylestory.com.au. 

 

Other Things to Keep in Mind About Rankings

  • Product ranking change constantly - what's trending in Korea at any given point in the year is ever a snapshot of a point in time. Similarly, it will depend on what app or source you use as to which product is the "most popular". 
  • Offline sales have different trends to online and home shopping. The simple reality is that most Korean brands and products are not stocked at offline retailers; they are sold different ways. 
  • For example on Coupang, as of July 10, the best-selling product was Hera Black Cushion Refill, followed by Hera Sunmate Daily Sunblock, both from Amorepacific. Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup was ranked third. 

If you enjoyed this episode don't forget to share it with a friend! 

 

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Key Ingredient Trends in the Korean Beauty Market Part 2
Key Ingredient Trends in the Korean Beauty Market Part 2
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“The division between what's trending domestically vs overseas will only widen as time goes on.”

Lauren Lee, Host of the Korean Beauty Show and Kbeauty Expert

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