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Health & Beauty

Not just a fad: K-Beauty category growth comes from a diverse and loyal fan base

by Arye Zucker - April 25, 2018

Image credit: Jamie Street (via Unsplash)

K-Beauty: from fad to forever. Since 2011, K-Beauty has steadily become a juggernaut in the Makeup + Skincare category--exploding in both Asian and mainstream U.S. beauty markets. Data from Slice Intelligence shows that K-Beauty, a comprehensive term for Korean beauty and skincare, has grown nearly 300 percent over the past two years.

The K-Beauty aesthetic is focused around prevention instead of treatment, and many products in the category are sold in steps or combinations. From snail slime to fermented yeast, K-Beauty evangelists are prepared to try anything in the pursuit of “flawless skin”. 

Don’t let the name fool you--the popularity of K-Beauty, like K-Pop, isn’t specific to any ethnicity, but instead beloved among many beauty buyers. While K-Beauty buyers over-index in Asian shoppers, who comprise 16 percent of sales--versus seven percent across the rest of the beauty category--the category has appeal across a wide demographic.

K-Beauty has wide demographic appeal

K-Beauty buyers over-index in Asian Shoppers but are well-represented with all buyers

Amazon is making K-Beauty look good

Amazon (shocker) is leading the way in K-Beauty sales. Between September 2016 and August 2017, Amazon commanded a 54 percent share of online K-Beauty products. Sephora, the next leading merchant, was next with a 40 percent share. The other merchants (CVS.com, Target, ULTA, and Urban Outfitters) combine to capture less than five percent of the market.

Amazon and Sephora drive online K-Beauty sales

With very little market share left smaller online retailers battle for a foothold

Avid spenders who are loyal to the category

The foundation of K-Beauty’s growth is a heavy shopper base who spends $443 per year on beauty products, compared to an average of $125 in the beauty category. The leading brand, Dr.Jart+, has 18.8 percent market share, followed by belif at 13.7 percent.

Dr.Jart+ and belif dominate

Outside of K-Beauty's two largest brands, its strength is in numbers

Slice Intelligence’s data indicates that K-Beauty’s strength is in numbers as buyers are loyal to the category, but try multiple brands. Consumers who shop K-beauty brands spend 60 percent of their beauty budget exclusively on K-Beauty products.

About this data

With a panel of 5 million online shoppers, Slice Intelligence gives the most detailed, and accurate digital commerce data available, and is reported daily.

Slice Intelligence is the only service to measure digital commerce directly from the consumer, across all retailers, at the item level, and over time. Our retailer-independent methodology precisely measures commerce as it happens. By extracting detailed information from hundreds of millions of aggregated and anonymized e-receipts, Slice can map the entire Purchase Graph, connecting each and every consumer to all their purchases.

Slice gets its data from e-receipts – not a browser, app or software installed by the end-user – so its measurement reflects comprehensive shopping behavior across multiple devices, over time which are key in an increasingly omnichannel retail world. Slice Intelligence is the exclusive e-commerce data provider for the NPD’s Checkout Tracking e-commerce service.