Amazon to back K-Beauty’s broader global reach

Korean cosmetics (Courtesy of Yonhap)
Korean cosmetics (Courtesy of Yonhap)

US e-commerce juggernaut Amazon.com Inc. will offer South Korean cosmetics producers one-stop support to enable them to reach millions of customers around the world amid the growing global popularity of K-beauty products.

Amazon Global Selling Korea, the Korean operation of Amazon’s business arranging individual sellers’ expansion into global markets, announced on Wednesday that it will launch a special project, dubbed Project K-Beauty Go Big, for Korean cosmetics manufacturers.

Under the project, Korea-based beauty product makers and sellers will receive top-to-bottom support from Amazon, in partnership with the country’s related state agencies and associations in product planning, manufacturing, packaging, branding and global marketing.

“K-Beauty is making great strides in the global market with their outstanding quality, customer-centered product lineups and the expansion of their brand experience,” Hannah Shin, head of Amazon Global Selling Korea, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“Amazon will help more Korean sellers venture into overseas markets by sharing its insights and know-how earned from the success story of K-beauty.”

Hannah Shin, head of Amazon Global Selling Korea, speaks at a press conference on June 26, 2024 
Hannah Shin, head of Amazon Global Selling Korea, speaks at a press conference on June 26, 2024 

The US electronic marketplace giant’s K-beauty project comes after Korean cosmetics products’ global sales on Amazon.com jumped 78% last year from a year earlier.

In the first five months of 2024, their sales are estimated to more than double from the same period last year.

The number of Korean cosmetics sellers earning more than $100,000 per year has also more than doubled from 2022, underscoring their strong growth streak in terms of quantity and quality, according to Amazon.

KOREAN COSMETICS PRODUCTS: A GLOBAL SENSATION

The value of Korean cosmetics exports hit $8.5 billion last year, the second-largest amount since the historic high of $9.2 billion in 2021, according to the Korea Customs Service.

Based on annual export value, Korea ranked as the world’s No. 4 cosmetics exporter after France, the US and Germany.   

Outbound shipments of Korean cosmetics in the first three months of this year increased 21.7% on-year to reach a record quarterly high of $2.3 billion.

(Courtesy of Amazon.com)
(Courtesy of Amazon.com)

In the US, the world’s biggest cosmetics market, Korean beauty products accounted for the third largest share — over 20% of the country’s total beauty product imports — after No. 1 and No. 2 France and Canada, respectively.

Total exports of Korean cosmetics to the US surged 44.7% on-year in 2023 to hit $1.2 billion, breaking the $1 billion threshold for the first time.

Korea topped Japan’s cosmetics import market with a 25.6% share after surpassing France.

The growing global popularity of Korean beauty products helped the country’s leading cosmetics original design manufacturers, Kolmar Korea Co. and Cosmax Inc., enjoy soaring profits as their supplies to Korea’s niche cosmetics brands sharply increased.

The two firms also supply cosmetics to multinational conglomerates such as L’Oréal S.A.

PARTNERSHIP WITH KOREAN COSMETICS ODMS

Amazon will host the Amazon K-Beauty Conference on Thursday with Kolmar Korea, which represents the first such event by the US e-commerce giant in Korea.

(Courtesy of Kolmar) 
(Courtesy of Kolmar) 

To support the global expansion of Korea’s niche cosmetics brands, Amazon has teamed up with Kolmar by selecting it as Amazon’s service provider network (SPN). It marks the first time for a Korean cosmetics manufacturer to hold such a role.

An SPN, composed of third-party service providers, helps Amazon sellers launch, manage and grow their businesses on Amazon.

Amazon is in talks with other Korean cosmetics ODMs to register them as its SPN, said Shin, who praised Korean ODMs’ one-stop services in planning, manufacturing and packaging.

Amazon has bet big on the huge growth potential of Korean beauty products in the US online marketplace.

“If K-beauty steps up its effort further with its great potential, we may see the birth of several globally famous Korean beauty brands in the next three to five years,” said Shin.

“Global demand for Korean cosmetics has grown lately but many [Korean beauty] brands still focus on the Korean market” partly due to challenges in exporting their products, added Shin.

Write to Hyung-Joo Oh at [email protected]
Sookyung Seo edited this article.


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