New frontier: Olive Young testing the waters in Middle East with makeup brand Wakemake

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Olive Young is making inroads into the Middle East region. [Wakemake]
Olive Young is making inroads into the Middle East region. [Wakemake]

Related tags Makeup Middle east K-Beauty Korea

K-beauty retailer Olive Young is making inroads into the Middle East region with its in-house colour cosmetics brand and plans to launch more of its own brands this year.

The company announced in February that it would be targeting the Middle East “in earnest”​ this year as part of its ambition to “lead the globalisation of Korean cosmetics.”

The pilot expansion started in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which was chosen for its large population of under-30s. The UAE would also serve as the retailer’s regional base of operations.

It had chosen to enter the market with its own makeup brand, Wakemake, which it believed would resonate well with domestic consumers.

“Considering the characteristics of the Middle East beauty market, which is highly developed in terms of colours, Olive Young selected Wakemake, which has a wide range of colours and vivid pigmentation, as its first export brand.”

Wakemake debuted on e-commerce platforms on Amazon and Noon last August and expanded offline to Sephora and Faces in January.

According to Olive Young, Wakemake’s long-wearing eyeliners are its most popular product, with four and a half out of five stars on Amazon within the first three months of its launch.

The brand noted the importance of eye makeup products in the Middle East, highlighting that its eyeshadows and eyebrow products were gaining traction as well.

Moving forward, Olive Young said it would closely monitor the Middle Eastern beauty market.

“We will actively discover and support K-beauty growth opportunity factors and take the lead in globalising Korean cosmetics."

Its next step would be to launch more of its in-house brands, such as skin care brand Bring Green to the UAE. Additionally, it was planning to expand its brands regionally.

More brands in more markets would help the company understand the market better, it said.

“As the preference for K-beauty with competitive prices and quality has been increasing recently, we plan to closely monitor the Middle East beauty market trend through the export of our own brands.”

K-beauty champion

Olive Young is a major health and beauty store retail chain by the CJ Group, one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates.

The expansion into the Middle East was indicative of Olive Young’s mission to champion the global growth of K-beauty.

It has steadily been growing its international presence with Olive Young Global, its official international e-commerce platform, as well as Amazon and Rakuten.

The company has also inked partnerships with companies such as Dairy Farm Group, owner of health and beauty retailer Guardian and Mannings to enter Singapore and Hong Kong.

In 2022, the firm reported that the number of brands exceeding the 10-billion mark in annual sales grew by 38%. This is a sharp increase from 2021 when it grew by 13%.

The retailer said 21 brands surpassed the milestone for the first time, and 19 were small and medium-sized brands.

It vowed that it would continue to provide “all-weather support” ​to new and emerging brands and said it aimed to increase the number of 10-billion-won brands by more than 30% this year.

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