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Riding the Korean Beauty Wave: A Gateway to Southeast Asian Expansion

Greetings, beauty entrepreneurs! In the vibrant landscape of Southeast Asia, the allure of Korean beauty brands is transforming the industry, creating ripples of success that are hard to ignore. In this blog, we delve into the fascinating journey of how the Korean Wave culture is propelling beauty brands to new heights in Southeast Asia and why businesses should pay attention to this trend for strategic expansion.

woman using beauty product

The Soaring Popularity of Korean Beauty Brands:

Recent data reveals a significant surge in the popularity of Korean beauty brands across Southeast Asia, with Vietnam and Indonesia emerging as key expansion markets. Despite accounting for only 12% of the overall beauty market in the region, Korean beauty brands are making their mark, driven by robust promotion on e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Lazada.

Key Expansion Markets:

Indonesia, in particular, has witnessed a twelvefold increase in imports of Korean cosmetics over five years, soaring from $3.78 million in 2015 to an impressive $45.8 million by 2020. Amorepacific Group, a major Korean beauty conglomerate, has strategically solidified its presence in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, exemplifying the trend of Korean beauty brands expanding their footprint in Southeast Asia.

Cultural Tailoring for Local Markets:

One of the secrets to success lies in the adaptation of products to local climates and cultures. Amorepacific Group's Sulwhasoo, for instance, opened the largest flagship store in Southeast Asia in Indonesia, catering to the unique needs and preferences of Southeast Asian women. This emphasis on localization, combined with strategic collaborations, has allowed Korean beauty brands like Laneige, Innisfree, and Cosrx to flourish in the region.

The Power of the Korean Wave:

The global influence of Korean beauty brands can be attributed to their commitment to a healthy and natural image, coupled with cutting-edge manufacturing processes. However, the Korean Wave culture plays a pivotal role in establishing a cultural foundation for the brands' growth in Southeast Asia. As consumers in the region embrace Korean popular culture, beauty brands adeptly collaborate with Korean film stars and celebrities, effectively penetrating local markets and skyrocketing brand popularity.

A Ripple Effect: Local Brands Embrace the Trend:

The influence of Korean beauty brands is not limited to international players; local brands are learning and adapting to this trend. Some Southeast Asian brands are not only incorporating innovative Korean beauty ingredients into their products but are also leveraging Korean cultural elements to enhance brand recognition.

For example, Indonesian brand Beneath! By Bhumi seamlessly blends Korean beauty ingredients like centella asiatica (cica) and mugwort with local tropical fruit ingredients, creating unique and appealing products. Similarly, Mad FOR MAKEUP, based in Indonesia, collaborates with the popular Korean online character LINE FRIENDS BT21, created by BTS and LINE FRIENDS, successfully attracting consumers and riding the wave of Korean pop culture.


In conclusion, the surge of Korean beauty brands in Southeast Asia is not just a passing trend but a cultural phenomenon with far-reaching implications for the beauty industry. As a consumer research company in Korea, we encourage businesses to explore the dynamic opportunities in Southeast Asia, understand the cultural nuances, and ride the Korean Beauty Wave to unprecedented success. The time is ripe for strategic expansion, collaboration, and innovation in this exciting and thriving market.


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