Korean beauty brands dominate the country’s social landscape. Despite posting less frequently than their global counterparts, domestic labels account for more than 75% of Facebook and Instagram interactions with beauty brands, according to L2’s Beauty: Korea report. But by adopting some of their methods, global brands may have a shot at breaking into the market. L2’s study highlights a few strategies worth considering:

Feature local celebrities. Across social platforms, celebrity content drives the most engagement, according to L2’s study. However, localization is key. Four Estée Lauder Facebook posts featuring Kendall Jenner garnered just 1,200 interactions, while a single reposted selfie of local celebrity Sulli wearing Estée Lauder lipstick generated 3,400 interactions.

Estee Lauder

Engage on KakaoTalk. Korean consumers rely on KakaoTalk, a homegrown instant messaging platform boasting 99% penetration. Brands can connect with consumers by becoming Kakao PlusFriends, enabling one-on-one chat. However, just a fifth of brands in L2’s study have opted to do so. Fresh is one of those few, using the platform to offer a list of available stores and enabling gifting between KakaoTalk users.


Think fast. Korean beauty brands have embraced “fast beauty,” leveraging nimble supply chains to respond quickly to new consumer product demands. Planning and launching a new product takes Korean mass brands just four to six months, in contrast to more than a year for global manufacturers.  When the color correction trend started gaining traction in Korea in April 2016, there were not many products available locally. Etude House rushed to integrate color correction into its popular cushion foundations. In December, just eight months after the word “color correction” began registering significantly on search platforms, the brand launched its color correction cushions. That first-mover advantage helped Etude House dominate search visibility, as well as visibility across local retailers.

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