K-Beauty skyrocketed to fame between the years 2012 and 2013 because of its unique design, innovative ingredients, and top-notch packaging. Simply put, the K-Beauty trend was exotic, and American retailers, including Sephora and Urban Outfitters, wanted its unique products on their shelves.
One K-beauty brand in particular became the US poster child for the trend: Tony Moly. Why? According to Nylon, Tony Moly fit the American market’s expectations of the bizarre formulations and quirky aesthetics associated with the K-Beauty trend. It therefore became the ideal brand to feature. Unbeknownst to captivated US consumers, Tony Moly is disliked in its native Korea.
“Tony Moly’s popularity is so low in its home country that Euromonitor, a leading provider of market research, couldn’t quantitatively specify its share of the Korean beauty and personal care industry,” writes Nylon. Some Koreans refer to it as dorky and the cheapest brand in Korea, and make the analogy that it’s the unpopular person who transfers high schools and then becomes the cool kid.
Yet not everyone feels this way. Korean-American YouTuber Joan Kim who lives in Seoul told Nylon that Tony Moly is popular, but with a much younger crowd (emphasis on much).
So why is Tony Moly a reject brand in Korea but sought after in the US?
Turns out this is a case of what is another man’s trash is another man’s treasure. K-Beauty consultant Ju Rhyu shared with Nylon that cultural differences can make an unknown product big in a different country. The power of exoticism and people’s ignorance about skincare should never be underestimated.
To read more about why Koreans don’t actually like Tony Moly, go to Nylon.