In-cosmetics global trends to watch

Beyond a K-beauty ‘powerhouse’? Why J-beauty and C-beauty are the 2020 hotspots to watch

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Japan and China are set to steal interest away from K-beauty thanks to strong heritage, science and traditions in both countries, predicts Euromonitor International (Getty Images)
Japan and China are set to steal interest away from K-beauty thanks to strong heritage, science and traditions in both countries, predicts Euromonitor International (Getty Images)

Related tags: in-cosmetics Global, K-Beauty, c-beauty, j-beauty, Euromonitor international, trends

Korean beauty has captured the imagination of consumers and industry alike for years, but Japan and China – steeped in their heritage and ancient rituals – could steal the limelight this year, says Euromonitor International.

Next month’s in-cosmetics Global will host a series of educational sessions across several dedicated spaces, including a sustainability corner, innovation zone and marketing trends theatre – digging into important trends and issues for the global cosmetics and personal care category.

Of particular interest will be a spotlight on the insatiable rise of country-led beauty trends. Think K-beauty is still the big one to watch? Think again…

‘Hotspot brands have become increasingly powerful’

Gabriella Beckwith, senior analyst for beauty and fashion at Euromonitor International – set to present a snapshot tour of the world’s top beauty hotspots said interest in country-branded beauty had snowballed in recent years, propelled a peaked interest in foreign travel and culture.

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe ahead of the show, Beckwith said: “In the last few years, hotspot brands have become increasingly powerful as consumers cultivate stronger regional identifies, care more about authenticity, and supporting their own local economy and communities.

“Hotspot brands allow consumers to place cultural attachment to their products, providing something more meaningful than just a simple beauty purchase.” 

Beckwith said out of all the country-led movements, Korean beauty had been the most talked in the last decade.

“K-beauty emerged as a beauty powerhouse following the so-called Korean Wave in the early 2000s, whereby South Korean popular culture such as K-drama and K-pop began to circulate internationally, and the country saw a rise in inbound tourists. The South Korean beauty industry has since prospered, both locally and internationally, and today is best known for its 10-step skin care routines, unique product innovations, and eccentric packaging.”

Gabriella Beckwith, senior analyst for beauty and fashion at Euromonitor International
Gabriella Beckwith, senior analyst for beauty and fashion at Euromonitor International

However, she said K-beauty had “matured in recent years”, ​with market growth of beauty and personal care products in South Korea up just 0.9% in 2018, compared to 6.5% in 2016. K-beauty giants like AmorePacific and LG Household & Health Care had also reported weaker performances recently, she said.

“It appears consumers may be turning to new hotspots such as Japanese, Chinese, Australian and Scandinavian beauty.”

Japan and China beauty ‘biggest hotspots to watch’ this year

Asked which of these were the ‘ones to watch’ in 2020, Beckwith said: “Japan and China are the two biggest hotspots to watch.”

Japan, she said, had a “rich heritage as a leader in beauty manufacturing” ​and was also a “breeding ground for science and technology”.

Beauty products from Japan, therefore, tended to be associated with “efficacy, high-quality and benefit-led features”, ​she said. “For this very reason, Japanese beauty (J-Beauty) is experiencing somewhat of a resurgence, as consumers globally prioritise quality over quantity, particularly within skin care. Rather than a heavy focus on local ingredients, the essence of J-Beauty is about science, whereby success is driven by intense R&D, innovation and formula breakthroughs.”

For China, Beckwith said interest surrounded its “historical roots”​ and the fact the country was home to “ancient beauty rituals and skin treatments”​, including jade-rollers and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

“Chinese brands are now reviving and cashing in on local beauty traditions such as TCM, which appeals to Chinese consumers of all ages, being widely familiar with the ingredients. Chinese TCM brands such as Pechoin, Herborist and Inoherb are striving to rebuild consumer confidence in local brands.

“C-beauty is also benefitting from the rise in micro-influencers exhibiting pride in Chinese-made brands and promoting this to young Chinese consumers through digital platforms such as WeChat, Weibo and Little Red Book,” ​she said.

German and Brazilian beauty brands were also worth watching closely in the near future, Beckwith said. Many brands in Germany, for example, were being founded by doctors, dermatologists or scientists and had a “strong association with engineering, functionality, and targeting specific skin conditions, with product claims that tend to be scientifically backed,”​ she said. And in Brazil, there was a clear rise in beauty brands capitalising on the “abundance of exotic ingredients”​ found in the country’s native eco-system, she said.

So, are country-led beauty hotspots here to stay?

Plenty of innovation and product development comes out of these country-led beauty trends, says Beckwith (Getty Images)
Plenty of innovation and product development comes out of these country-led beauty trends, says Beckwith (Getty Images)

Beckwith said understandably there was debate as to whether country-branded beauty trends would quickly rise and fall like a fad in the “ever-changing beauty industry”, ​these hotspots tended to bring much more than a bit of marketing to the global beauty world.

“Take Japanese beauty, for example, which is built almost entirely around creating efficacious and science-backed formulations. Efficacy remains one of the biggest priorities for consumers, and brands globally continue to take inspiration from Japan’s forward thinking and tech-led beauty market,”​ she said.

Similarly, K-beauty had succeeded for so long because beyond the “fun and kitsch packaging”, ​the trend brought great innovation and new product ideas, she said. “Sheet masks, for instance, have become a staple in the beauty regimes of many consumers globally, as well as a core part of the portfolio of major beauty players.”

So, whilst interest in particular countries may shift, the fascination with global beauty hotspots will continue to be an important trend to watch this year.

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