Global beauty brands pick more Korean celebs

Global beauty brands pick more Korean celebs

More and more global cosmetics companies are hiring Korean models dedicated to the Korean market, some of the finickiest customers in the world.

From actresses to fashion models, these localized models do what foreign, mostly western, models cannot do — represent women with darker skin shades, higher cheekbones, smaller eyes and noses and, most importantly, the pursuit for fairer skin tone. And the result is quite rewarding with higher sales as well as global recognition, especially in Asia, where Korean beauty regimes are widely hailed in Southeastern Asia and China.

A very good example is the U.K.-based GlaxoSmithKline’s facial cream Physiogel’s being endorsed by fashion model Hyoni Kang and actress Kim Min-hee for the Korean market. The sales of the company’s facial cream Physiogel skyrocketed by 70 percent last year after repositioning the psoriasis treatment into an everyday beauty care cream and hiring local celebrities as brand ambassadors.

“From the very beginning, we were very confident that we needed a Korean model instead of a Caucasian model that Korea women can hardly relate to,” Yang Jung-mi, the product manager of Physiogel, told The Korea Herald.

“At the beginning we wanted to appeal about the professional side of our cream as a moisturizer, so we hired Kang who was a leading fashion model and a globetrotter, but still quite accessible to the public. But as we have seen the sales grow we saw the need to be more commercial and came up with actress Kim, who is admired by a myriad of beauty fanatics, which also helped sales,” Yang said.

Japanese prestige cosmetics brand Cosme Decorte recently hired Korean fashion model Jang Yoon-ju to represent its Liposome Treatment Liquid essence. While the product is represented by super model Kate Moss on a global scale, local advertisements and commercials have showed Jang as a charismatic, chic and opinionated woman.

“Because the product is very much important to us, we have decided to assign Jang, who is very much like Moss in every aspect, to appeal to Korean customers since September. We have seen a number of the younger generation purchasing our product since then,” said Jin Hee-sun, spokeswoman of Kose Korea.

Model Jang Yoon-ju for Cosme Decorte

French brand Lancome and Japanese skin care brand SK-II are pioneers in the field. SK-II, famous for its bevy of global models including Cate Blanchett, Maggie Cheung and Tang Wei, started endorsing Korean models in 2002, with the late actress Jang Jin-young, and is currently working with top-notch actress Kim Hee-ae.

“The company is famous for hiring women with translucent skin tones in each country. The models are avid fans of SK-II, too,” the company said in a press release. “It helps raise the company’s brand image in a short period and cement it,” the company added.

The late actress Jang Jin-young for SK-II

The growing popularity of Korean makeup style in the wider Asian market has helped the global powerhouses change their preferences, to localization from the conventional universal promotion strategy.

“As witnessing the popularity of AmorePacific and LG Household & Health Care and other domestic brands’ among Chinese tourists and others, the global office became convinced that we need a Korean spokeswoman to get along with our global model,” said a spokeswoman of a global cosmetics brand in the process of looking for a global spokesmodel.

“On the other hand, it is quite difficult to hire top-class female celebrities to the brands nowadays because they are all bound up in contracts with domestic brands — look at Jun Ji-hyun, Song Hye-kyo and Im Yoon-a working with AmorePacific; Lee Young-ae, Kim Tae-hee and Shin Min-a working with LG and more. It is another competition to find an available model with global appeal and understanding of the brand’s vision,” she added.


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