South Korea Business Report

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Delicious cosmetics made with delicious food by SKINFOOD

South Korean cosmetics brand now offers organic range in 16 countries and also adapts products to individual markets as K-pop culture spreads in Asia

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 10:36am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 10:36am

Ripe avocado, organic tomato, fresh lettuce and cucumber, precious royal honey and gold caviar may sound like the ingredients of a delectable gourmet salad. However, for a beauty brand in South Korea, they are not just delicious food, but new ingredients of skin, hair, body and make-up products with excellent beautifying benefits.

SKINFOOD is the first food cosmetics brand with the motto: “delicious cosmetics made with delicious food”. With its one-of-a-kind concept of food and skin care, the company derived its name from the combination of “SKIN” and “FOOD” because it uses “food that is good for the skin”.

Since cosmetics touch the skin, SKINFOOD always strives to help its users enjoy a more beautiful and healthy lifestyle through better food. Based on 60 years of expertise as a cosmetics brand with this philosophy, SKINFOOD has achieved great success in South Korea’s competitive beauty industry.

SKINFOOD’s logo includes the mark “Since 1957” to show its history, which represents the cosmetics technology of SKINFOOD’s parent company and subsidiary iPEERES Cosmetics established in 1957. Based on the cosmetics expertise of iPEERES, the SKINFOOD brand was launched in 2003, targeting young global consumers in their 20s to 30s.

Beginning with its first store in Myeong-dong, Seoul, in December 2004, SKINFOOD opened its global franchise store in Taipei, Taiwan, within just three months – achieving roaring success. With rapid growth over the next 10 years, SKINFOOD operates approximately 350 stores in South Korea.

Beyond the country’s shores, the brand also expanded to 16 countries, including the United States, mainland China, Hong Kong and Thailand – successfully entering the global market.

In particular, SKINFOOD began selling in shops and online stores of ULTA, the largest cosmetics multishop in the US, in July last year.

In February this year, the brand entered approximately 220 stores in Britain run by Boots, the largest drugstore chain in the world. SKINFOOD ventured the following month into15 European countries through its presence in 830 stores of the global cosmetics multibrand shop Sephora.

Based on the innovative cosmetics line-up of approximately 1,000 products with various concepts, SKINFOOD continues to expand its business strategically around the world with the fundamental conviction that the answer to beauty can simply be found in food.

Healthy food feeds healthy skin

There is a popular adage, “You are what you eat”. “What you eat” not only affects overall physical health, but also the well-being of skin, hair and nails. SKINFOOD makes products based on

this belief.

Scientific research proves that true beauty comes from the body’s inner beauty. Foods rich in certain vitamins, nutrients, proteins and antioxidants provide benefits that help keep skin radiant and soft – slowing the ageing process.

Nature is a great source of excellent ingredients that improve skin health and appearance. A large amount of vitamins A, B6 and C in watermelon protect and soothe skin damaged by ultraviolet rays, while the healthy fats and oils in avocado provide rich moisture to create radiant skin.

Healthy beauty ingredients from foods are not just limited to the fruit and vegetable food group. Rice is not merely for eating. As a rich source of vitamin E and an antioxidant that fights ageing and damage caused by free radicals, rice is known as an effective acne fighter and skin cell regenerator.

From Brazilian black sugar, South Asian royal black honey and French grapes to Cheojeong-ri mineral water, SKINFOOD believes that feeding skin with foods found in nature cultivates optimal health and beauty. The brand’s constant search for safe, reliable and effective foods is a journey across the world with this product development philosophy.

“Product development starts with finding the right raw ingredients with excellent quality,” says Cho Yun-ho, CEO. “We’ve developed many cosmetics with effective food-based ingredients that are good for skin through our know-how and technology. Above all, we put a lot of effort into our food research and development [R&D].”

Aimed at timeless beauty and not short-lived effects, SKINFOOD invests in the right methods of development and production, from the cultivation of food and formulation of ingredients to the product package design and packaging process.

Our vision for Asia over the next five to 10 years is sustainable growth. Our customers are our most important priority, and we don’t want to rush into the rapidly changing market

Innovation based on ‘sense’

With unequalled product names such as Avocado & Olive Lip Balm, Salmon Dark Circle Concealer Cream, Egg White Perfect Pore Cleansing Oil, Truffle Age Defying Cream, Fresh Fruit Lip & Cheek Lunchbox and Choco Eyebrow Powder Cake, SKINFOOD products feel mouth-wateringly tempting enough to eat. SKINFOOD tastefully designs and innovatively creates products that stimulate the five senses with synaesthesia.

The fun names, food-like exquisite textures and fragrances, package designs and excellent cost-effectiveness of SKINFOOD products are the reason for their steady popularity among consumers.

Encased in an opaque crystalline flask reflecting a liquid formula of cascading golden gradience, Royal Honey Propolis Essence is highly sought after with effects as potent as its luxurious ingredients. A single drop of the multiple award-winning elixir helps provide skin protection, radiance and moisture – thanks to a fusion of 50 per cent black bee propolis extract, 20 per cent royal jelly extract and 10 per cent royal black honey extract.

Black Sugar Mask Wash Off, one of the bestsellers of SKINFOOD, is also enthusiastically beloved by young consumers. A winner of the 14th Sure Beauty Awards and the 2014 Soko Glam Best of Beauty Awards, Black Sugar Mask Wash Off has been praised by users for its scrumptiously fragrant cookie batter-like formula of fine black sugar grains and shea butter – leaving skin as smooth as porcelain and as soft as baby skin after a single use. It has been very popular since its launch based on word of mouth.

“Our committed focus on research and laboratory work in order to improve quality and technology over the last 60 years has been our main key to success,” Cho says. “We are more focused on R&D because we endeavour to produce products based on our own prescription and technology.”

Examples of SKINFOOD’s home-grown innovations are its patented Phyto Miracle process – which extracts the phytochemicals contained in 10 superfoods such as reishi mushroom, wormwood, white ginseng and quinoa using pure water and low temperature ultrasonic technology – and Submicron Technology, which ensures maximum skin cell penetration for optimal skin care.

These technologies are found in SKINFOOD Miracle Food 10 Solution line, a total solution product with powerful antioxidant and moisturising properties that target 10 different skin concerns ranging from hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and dullness, to inelasticity, dryness, dark circles and rough skin.

SKINFOOD also launched the Aqua Grape Bounce line, comprising five product types, namely serum, lotion, mist toner, cream and mask. Nominated as one of the most effective products for skin improvement by beauty bloggers shortly after its launch, the Aqua Grape Bounce line features the superior hydrating potency of caulerpa lentillifera, a super food known as “green caviar”, for fully moist skin from the inside.

Even celebrities adore SKINFOOD products. An acclaimed singer-actress from Hong Kong has been consistently using SKINFOOD products since she was a student, and swears that the products feel so natural that she almost wants to taste them.

Beyond oriental beauty

With the rapid rise in popularity of cosmetics and the Korean Wave in Asia-Pacific expected to generate more than US$50 billion in sales this year, South Korea has become a hotbed for trendsetting and innovative beauty products that fuse raw cosmetic ingredients from the East. As a result, South Korea has emerged as the second-largest exporter of cosmetics to China after France, overtaking the US and Japan.

Fuelled by the increasing global popularity of trendy K-pop culture and South Korean television soap operas, the growth of South Korea’s cosmetics industry has been so phenomenal that it has risen in economic esteem as the country’s new export engine. South Korean cosmetics manufacturers like SKINFOOD are reaping the benefits of explosive global demand, specifically from China. In 2015 alone, South Korea shipped a whopping US$1.1 billion worth of facial creams, masks and other cosmetics to the world’s second-largest economy.

“We aim to make high-quality, reliable and strong value-for-money products for our customers,” Cho says. “Our vision for Asia over the next five to 10 years is sustainable growth. Our customers are our most important priority, and we don’t want to rush into the rapidly changing market, but rather take the slow steps necessary to be appreciated by our customers at a steady pace through honest product development with clear goals.”

SKINFOOD has strategically entered emerging markets such as Taiwan before the onset of the Korean cosmetics craze. As an established industry pioneer in Asia with the first-mover advantage, SKINFOOD continues to pursue the one-of-a-kind brand concept of food cosmetics and push forward with its R&D-driven food-based product philosophy.

During its 10 years of operation in the global beauty market, Seoul-based SKINFOOD has launched products customised for the climate, skin types and characteristics of each country. It also shares its brand identity, values and philosophy with potential partners.

“SKINFOOD continually aims to make healthy food-based products for our customers,” Cho says. “We are always looking for fresh, new ideas to expand into the global market.”