China's high-end cosmetics market has long been dominated by European and Japanese firms. But South Korean beauty brands have gained popularity in recent years, drawing an increasing number of Chinese users with their innovative products and value for money. More than 60 per cent of mainland users of Korean cosmetic products learned about the brands only within the past two years, according to a study by global consulting firm Nielsen. And about 40 per cent of them said they planned to buy more of the goods in the next six months. "Chinese consumers have become smarter and more sophisticated," said Nielsen China vice-president Zhuang Jia. "They are no longer chasing blindly after the big brands, but are now paying more attention to which meet their specific needs." More than 1,000 of those surveyed described Korean brands as "innovative", "trendy" and having "good value for money". Compared with European and Japanese brands, Korean ones were popular for combining quality and affordable prices, the study said. They also launched new products more frequently - such as the BB (blemish balm) cream that has become a fixture that most international cosmetics brands now carry. But mainland consumers - compared with those in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore - were more influenced by Korean television dramas and advertisements that feature Korean stars in making their shopping decisions, the Nielsen study said. Friends' recommendations and information from the brands' websites and fashion sites were their main channels of learning about cosmetic and skincare products. "Our study showed a direct correlation between interest in Korean entertainment and interest in Korean cosmetic brands," Zhuang said. "With the rising popularity of Korean pop culture in China, consumers have more chances to learn about Korean brands, which in turn influences consumers' choices." Even so, the survey also revealed that 73 per cent of respondents believed that French-made products were superior in quality and were more ideal for gift-giving purposes.