Park Hyunsun, CEO of Korean cosmetics brand Lavien, shares her perspective on current K-Beauty trends, as well as the top spots to shop K-Beauty and get inspiration for your products.
Another place to get insights on the latest K-Beauty products and trends is at in-cosmetics Korea. Happening in Seoul on 12-14th July and featuring the K-Beauty Inspiration Zone, this should be your first stop in Korea.
The unprecedented pandemic brought the global beauty market to a standstill for 3 years. Finally in 2023 we see the return of the beauty and personal care as the world recovers.
Korea was one of the last countries to stop wearing masks, so we see completely different trends in K-Beauty vs the rest of the world.
- Homecare & Self-care
With added skin problems from mask-wearing and access to dermatologists, aestheticians, and professional procedures for skincare becoming more difficult, there has been a significant increase in consumer interest for high-performance homecare products that guarantee a similar effect as professional skincare clinics.
Most notably, this interest has extended beyond just high-performance cosmetics to demand in homecare beauty devices, such as face rollers, gua sha, and even high-tech therapy gadgets like LED masks.
- Small Luxury and Good Value for Satisfaction
Even though we are experiencing a global recession after the pandemic, consumers are still opening their wallets for beauty products. The buy ‘small luxury’ items that bring more joy and satisfaction than the amount of money spent.
This phenomenon can be described as ‘value-for-satisfaction,’ or ‘Ga-sim-bi’ in Korean, a word referring to the pattern of people who spend money on products that provide them with psychological happiness or pleasure. These include items like perfumes and hand creams. High-priced hand creams launched by global brands such as Aesop and Diptyque, as well as K-Beauty brands like Tamburins and Nonfiction, are showing high growth in sales.
- Increase in ingredient-focused ‘smart consumers’
Social media like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, have become knowledgeable places for cosmetics and the science behind ingredients. ‘Smart consumers’ are educating themselves on ingredients and products and actively seeking out products that are right for them.
Consumers are searching the Lavian site for more specialized keywords like “freeze-dried collagen” and “172 daltons” (*Daltons: a measure of molecular weight), as opposed to the more generic terms like “elasticity ampoule” and “anti-aging ampoule”.
Cosmetic brands need to invest time and effort in the rapid development and research of high-profile ingredients if they don’t want to lose out on these increasingly savvy consumers.
- Pop-up Store Culture
In recent years, many brands have been emphasizing the importance of communicating with their customers. It has been shown that customers are more loyal and satisfied with their products when they are involved in the creation and development of those products with the brand.
There are now many different forms of offline events in the K-Beauty sector to meet and engage with consumers, such as opening a pop-up shop or holding an exhibition.
Customers are enjoying pop-up stores as a form of K-Beauty culture because those conceptual shops are only open for a limited period of time, unlike offline stores that are usually open all the time.
They share photos from those conceptual pop-up stores on social media, causing brands’ products to go viral, which is one of the perks of running a pop-up store.
- Recommendation of hot shopping spots where you can experience all these trends
In Korea, there are as many stores and shopping spots of a variety of styles as K-Beauty products. I also visit offline stores as often as possible to get fresh inspiration for marketing strategies and new product development for my brand.
Of course, there are so many places you need to visit, but as a CEO of a K-Beauty brand, I’d like to introduce you to hot shopping spots in Seoul where you can taste all the K-Beauty trends considering overseas visitors’ short trip schedule. You may need to increase your baggage allowance after this shopping trip!
- Myeong-dong Streets and Downtown Duty-Free Shops
If I had to pick just one trendy shopping destination for your trip to Seoul, it would be Myeong-dong for cosmetics. Myeong-dong street is a one-stop shop for thousands of products from dozens of K-Beauty brands.
Some stores were recently closed due to the pandemic, however 3CE’s flagship store, ‘Stylenanda Pink Hotel,’ is still a popular destination. As you might expect from the name, this store is decorated in pink, making it one of the most photogenic spots in Myeong-dong.
Most stores in Myeong-dong cater to tourists, so they are well-versed in tax refund procedures, making shopping here a breeze. Many of the staff speak English, or at least understand it, so you won’t have to worry about communication.
If your schedule does not allow you to enjoy street shopping, I recommend that you visit duty-free shops where you can browse all of the best-selling K-Beauty goods at a glance.
Rather than rushing through the airport duty-free shops during your busy schedule, I recommend stopping by downtown duty-free shops where you can conveniently look at and shop for tax-free prices.
‘Lotte Duty-Free shop Main Downtown Store’ has more brands than any other downtown duty-free shop in Korea, and is in Myeong-dong, making it easy for anyone to visit. You can also find our brand, Lavien, on the 11th floor of the Lotte Duty-Free shop Main Downtown Store and on the 8th floor of the Lotte Duty-Free shop Busan Downtown Store.
- Gangnam Street, Apgujeong & Garosu-gil
Gangnam, along with Apgujeong and Garosu-gil, is one of the trendiest and most luxurious neighbourhoods in Seoul.
As the center of South Korea, Gangnam is like Myeongdong in that you may browse the latest trends in Korea at a glance with many brand stores.
‘Olive Young Gangnam flagship store’ of Olive Young, the Korean equivalent of Sephora, is also located on Gangnam’s main street. Olive Young stores are located in various sizes all over Korea, including the aforementioned Meyong-dong, but what truly distinguishes the Gangnam flagship store from others is that it is a large, three-story building in which you can find the most popular cosmetic products in Korea.
Along Apgujeong & Garosu-gil, you’ll find high-end department stores, luxury SPAs and skin care clinics, as well as unique concept stores from a variety of brands.
To begin, Apgujeong is home to ‘Hyundai Department Store Apgujeong Main Store’, Korea’s leading department store brand, where you can explore luxury K-Beauty brands such as Sulwhasoo, Hera, Ohui, and Whoo.
At ‘Sulwhasoo Dosan’ Flagship Store in Apgujeong, you can enjoy shopping as well as experiencing Sulwhasoo items with a SPA store and terrace. You can also visit Tamburins’ ‘Tamburins Flagship Store Sinsa’ at Garosu-gil, a brand whose ambassador is Jennie from Blackpink.
Tamburins also has a flagship store in Apgujeong called ‘House Dosan’, and both locations have interiors that are more like art exhibitions than stores, making for a memorable experience. Apgujeong & Garosu-gil are located close to each other, and both neighbourhoods are also close to Gangnam, making them easy to visit during your stay in Korea.
- The Hyundai Seoul and Seongsu-dong
If you want to experience the pop-up store trend we’ve been talking about, it’s The Hyundai Seoul and Seongsu-dong. These two districts are known as “hip” places, the mecca of pop-up stores, and they are the popular amongst locals and international visitors.
‘The Hyundai Seoul’ is the Hyundai department store’s strategic flagship shop and is not just a department store, but a multi-cultural space that you can enjoy with its nature-friendly architecture and trendy design.
The hottest and most trendy beauty and fashion brands are hurrying to open pop-up shops at The Hyundai Seoul. Lavien also held a pop-up shop on the first floor of The Hyundai Seoul for three days from May 5th to 7th to meet our consumers and supporters and showcase our brand identity, and we were thankfully overwhelmed by the response.
Seongsu-dong refers to the district and streets near Seoul Metro’s Seongsu station, and it is one of the popular spots as more and more young people tag Seongsu on social media. One of the greatest K-Beauty cosmetic brands, Amore pacific, recognized this trend and established its conceptual store called ‘AMORE Seongsu’ in Seongsu-dong.
Here you can test out products from famous K-Beauty brands such as Innisfree, Sulwhasoo, and Etude House, all brands under the Amore pacific umbrella, and even take home samples. Although Seongsu-dong is a bit far from other central Seoul neighbourhoods like Gangnam and Myeong-dong, it’s definitely worth taking your time to visit.
Fascinated with Korean skincare? Visit in-cosmetics Korea in Seoul from 12 to 14 July!
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About Park Hyunsun, CEO, PS International (Cosmetic brand: Lavien)
Park Hyunsun is the founder of the stylish shopping mall “Pink Secret” and the premium K-Beauty cosmetic brand “Lavien.” She started out as an influencer with a huge fan following as a ballerina and successfully launched the first-generation online shopping site Pink Secret in 2005 and founded Lavien in 2017. As a premium K-Beauty brand with ‘premium raw materials, ingredients, and technology’ as its differentiation points, Lavian is firmly established in the domestic market centered on its own mall and home shopping and is planning to actively expand overseas next year.