in-cosmetics Korea interviews Paul Kang, Senior Vice President, Skincare Division of AMOREPACIFIC’s R&D Unit. Paul shares his insights into Asian beauty, the Chinese market, fusion products, sustainability and silver consumers.
1. Congratulations on the 70th anniversary of AMOREPACIFIC this year. Can you tell us more about your R&D network in Asia?
AMOREPACIFIC opened its first R&D centre in Seoul in the 50s. The company has grown steadily over the years and is now market leader in Korea. However, because the domestic Korean market is so saturated, we have been pursuing growth markets overseas with the support of our new Shanghai R&I Centre, which opened in 2004, followed by the Singapore R&D Centre in 2011, our hub R&D centre for ASEAN.
The Shanghai R&I Centre develops customised products for the Chinese market, where, surprisingly enough, only 10% of the population use cosmetics. From Guangzhou to Harbin, climate variations are extreme and demand various types of formulated cosmetics for the country’s 50 ethnic groups. How do you come up with skincare products that protect against air pollution in Shanghai? Or, in Singapore, how do you cater for consumers from various ethnic groups from Indian to Malaysian? This is a challenge and one of the key reasons why we have several R&D Centres in Asia.
2. What trends do you think will be driving the cosmetic R&D sector over the next couple of years?
Cushion compact products are a core creation between skincare and make-up research. Interestingly, the idea for these compacts came from one of my colleagues’ lightbulb moment when noticing how a car park attendant used his ink stamp on an ink pad.
Anyway, according to market research agency Euromonitor, cushion products are categorised as sunscreen products. Some of our researchers at AMOREPACIFIC would agree with this categorisation but some would not. Even though cushion products are created by incorporating sunscreen properties, they can also be classified as skincare or make-up products. So, what does this mean for future R&D trends in the cosmetics industry?
Firstly, it is all about ‘fusion’, the new buzzword. “Fusion” products that combine various properties like cushion products will drive creativity and innovation by blurring the boundaries between skincare and haircare or make-up and haircare or bodycare and skincare.
Fusion also applies to the relationship between conventional skincare and beauty devices. AMOREPACIFIC’s ultimate goal is to make consumers “beautiful” and “healthy”. By combining IT and skincare, beauty devices can provide various skin diagnoses such as moisture and elasticity levels. This is key for ever-demanding consumers who will experience the benefits of digitally-designed beauty devices and products suited to their own skin diagnosis. We call this the ‘Total Beauty Solution’ and AMOREPACIFIC is aiming to become a global total-care provider of beauty & health.
Secondly, it is about sustainable beauty R&D. Consumers are becoming more concerned about the planet, their environment and air pollution. Now, how can we sustain our body, society and the planet? How can we boost bio-diversity? What is the sustainable alternative to animal testing? Sustainability is always at the forefront of our development processes and pivotal to our research strategies.
Sulwhasoo, Korea’s leading luxury brand, is made with ginseng and traditional medicine ingredients. The active ingredients in Sulwhasoo are all cultivated in Korea, but, as Korea is not a large country, only a small number of Korean farmers grow Korean medicine ingredients. ‘Beautiful Fair Trade’ is a unique AMOREPACIFIC programme designed to manage farmers’ lives and sustainable product growth and purchase.
3. What do you think are the key opportunities and challenges affecting the personal care and cosmetics products?
Our vision is to become a ‘Great Global Brand Company’ that makes the world beautiful with Asian Beauty. To realize this vision, we are expanding our business in China and emerging markets such as Southeast Asia.
With air pollution becoming a global issue, AMOREPACIFIC is using our knowledge in skincare and beauty to protect our customers’ skin from pollution. Based on our research, air-pollution affects skin-ageing and we are planning to develop anti-pollution beauty products especially for Chinese consumers.
The growing ageing population gives us an opportunity to affect personal care and cosmetic products. The over-60 age group is now growing fast in Korea and China but very few cosmetic companies understand “silver consumers” skin characteristics and how to develop beauty products for them. Some have physical difficulties when using cosmetics products and many of them use anti-ageing products actually designed for consumers in their thirties or forties. There are two reasons for this. First, they don’t want to be categorized as silver consumers. Second, little study has been carried out to find out how their skin type and their life style differ from other generations’.
4. What are your priorities when selecting new ingredients for personal care and cosmetics products to make the world beautiful with Asian Beauty?
AMOREPACIFIC’s vocation is to be the “Asian Beauty Creator” where we develop beauty products for Asia drawing on our four key heritage ingredients derived from ginseng, green tea, soy and camellia.
We develop ginseng products for health, beauty and food. Ginsenosides are active ingredients found in 30 different species and are known for their anti-ageing, whitening and possibly future anti-pollution effects. Green tea is also a very effective ingredient but EGCG(Epigallocatechin gallate), a typical antioxidant active ingredient in green tea catechin, is fragile and unstable. However, we succeeded in stabilizing this ingredient for cosmetic formulae. We can obtain green tea essential oil from green tea flowers and these also have several active ingredients. Soy is also a typical and much used Korean ingredient with very interesting properties when fermented. Camellia has historically been used by our forebears for hair treatment. Innisfree uses Camellia oils sourced from Jeju in various products.
Using these four heritage ingredients ensures we differentiate our cosmetic products from Western brands, in keeping with our “Asian Beauty Creator” strategy.
Finally, in addition to cosmetic products we also offer beauty food, thus creating synergies with skincare. This is our holistic approach designed to achieve our “Total Beauty Solution’ and “make the world beautiful with Asian beauty”.
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