The Korean ZAlpha & their attitude towards beauty

While conventional social norms in Korea discourage teenage makeup use, the reality diverges significantly. For years, adolescents have embraced light makeup applications, ranging from tone-up UV to foundation, lip tints, eyeliner, and eyebrow enhancements, both during and after school hours. The emergence of accessible brands like Etude House and Peripera in the early 2000s revolutionized the beauty landscape, enabling a more elaborate makeup routine. Today, propelled by social media influence and an expansive product array, interest in beauty among this demographic is soaring.

Oliveyoung, a multi-brand drugstore chain, along with Ably, online fashion retailer and Daiso, dollar-shop chain, serves as primary purchasing avenues for the Zalpha generation. Daiso, renowned for its affordability, has ascended as a major beauty distributor for younger consumers, offering products priced under 5000KRW (approximately EUR 3).

Thanks to easy access to key Korean One OEM/ODM companies, Daiso capitalizes on this advantage by opening its doors to major beauty groups/brands such as Clio, Aekyung, Too Cool For School, Able C&C, IPKN, The Saem, VT Cosmetics. These companies launch brands specifically tailored for Daiso, featuring products that can be either new releases or a “low-cost” version of an existing product, manufactured by well-known companies like KOLMAR KOREA, COSMAX, and COSMECCA KOREA.

With prices ranging from 500 KRW to 5000 KRW (EUR 0.35-3) and product quality guaranteed by trusted brand names, young Korean consumers flock to Daiso stores to purchase their skincare and makeup essentials. This enthusiasm has even led to stock shortages for star products such as VT COSMETICS’ “Reedle Shot Facial Boosting First Ampoule” or A’PIEU’s (ABLE C&C) “The Pure Tea Tree” skincare range.

According to Opensurvey’s Beauty Trend Report 2024, a significant 21.6% of Korean teens aged 10 to 19 prefer Daiso as their go-to destination for beauty essentials. From 2021’s modest four new beauty brands, Daiso now boasts an impressive 30 brands and around 280 products as of April 2024. Daiso has announced that the sales of skincare & makeup has increased by 85% in 2023

Retail giants like Oliveyoung have swiftly seized upon the market opportunities presented by the Zalpha demographic. In January 2024, Oliveyoung launched the “OLIVE HI-TEEN MEMBERSHIP,” targeting 14 to 19-year-olds with exclusive benefits and promotional events.

Similarly, ABLY, popular fashion multi-brand e-commerce platform, has capitalized on the Zalpha market, accounting for 70% of total beauty sales by March 2023. ABLY’s emphasis on authenticity and customization, evident through filtered reviews and precise product criteria, resonates deeply with Zalpha’s discerning tastes. This personalized approach extends to NAVER Shopping, where A.I. algorithms tailor reviews based on factors such as skin tone, personal color, and skin type.

While we see similar move in western markets such as “Sephora kid “trends, the main difference might be the interest not focusing on ingredients but mostly on personal needs and enjoyment

So, recognizing the unique needs of the Zalpha cohort, industry experts advocate for a shift in marketing strategies. Beyond trendy product launches and influencer endorsements, brands must embrace innovation in packaging, offer limited editions, host pre-launch events, and craft engaging retail experiences. These initiatives are essential to capturing the attention and loyalty of the Zalpha generation in Korea, ensuring brands remain relevant and competitive in an ever-evolving market landscape.

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