“In comparison to Korean beauty, which is known for its fun packaging and of-the-moment formulas and colors, J-Beauty is centered around quality manufacturing, understated opulence, and groundbreaking science and technology,” explains Frances Grant, Senior Vice President of marketing for Shiseido Cosmetics America.
“We believe that K-Beauty is about the marketing. We believe Japanese products [are] about the quality, in the long term the quality will always override the surface marketing.” — Masanori Kobayashi, Managing Director of Decorté
Anna Marie Solowij, former beauty director at British Vogue and co-founder of Beauty Mart, an influential niche retailer that stocks Japanese and K-Beauty brands, says: “The South Korean government invested in their cosmetics category, encouraging growth via R&D and new business. Simultaneously, Japan had been experiencing an economic downturn, meaning consumers traded down and spent less on premium goods, so the cosmetics industry in Japan slowed while Korea’s raced ahead.”
“In recent years, Japanese beauty has been pushed out of the spotlight by the never-ending stream of new textures, formats, and packaging concepts that have come from the hyperactive Korean beauty industry,” said Vivienne Rudd, Mintel’s Director of Global Innovation and Insight, Beauty and Personal Care. “But we’re now starting to see [from Japan] a confident and expressive form of beauty that blends technical expertise and traditional ingredients.”
Millie Kendal, a brand consultant and co-founder of Beauty Mart who also worked for Shu Uemura, doesn’t agree with that blanket statement, but she does anticipate a major shift in the industry. It is one she believes will restore Japanese beauty to its rightful position as leader of the pack. “With K-Beauty, you can get good quality, great (fun) packaging and reasonable prices, which opens up a beauty trend to a younger market and is incredibly Instagrammable. My theory, however is that we will see a return to the expert; the make-up artist, the journalist, the stylist … They are all being asked once again for their expert opinion and their tastes and use of product is based on performance and not gimmick.”
For more insight into The Rise of J-Beauty, look at the BeautyMatter trend report.
Photo: Trung Thanh via Unsplash