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Aussie cosmetic sales soar thanks to Koreans’ eye for beauty

08 May, 2007

Austrade has identified South Korea as a cosmetic ‘hot-spot’ destination, with exports doubling in just two years, elevating the country to be ranked as our fifth most important export destination for beauty products.

Austrade’s Chief Economist Tim Harcourt said although France is still South Korea’s top supplier of cosmetics, Australia is edging closer with figures increasing from $3.6 million in 2004 to over $7.4 million in 2006. 

“Cosmetic exports to South Korea are set to climb even higher with major inroads being made by Australian businesses,” Harcourt said.

“An excellent example of success is the very Aussie-themed Koala Story.  It opened three stores in South Korea in the last three months, its fourth will be opening later this month and 16 others are planned to open before the end of 2007. 

Koala Story currently carries 20 Australian cosmetic brands and over 1,000 Australian products.  Austrade’s Business Development Manager Young-Mi Cho said its move into South Korea coincides with a significant trend – the increasing power of brand shops.

“Low-end and multi-brand shops in Korea became the new wave in 2004 when competition increased with the entry of mass-market players,” Cho said.

“A rapidly emerging consumer group in Korea - young teenagers is driving demand as well as females in age groups of 20s and early 30s who are well-known to have a high interest in beauty and personal care. 

“Koala Story’s success is good news for other Australian suppliers of beauty products.  They’re constantly on the look-out for a stable supply of Australian products from established clients to keep up with demand.

Austrade’s Seoul-based senior trade commissioner, Elizabeth Masamune, said the affluence of South Korea’s economy is creating excellent export opportunities for Australian businesses in the lifestyle and cosmetic sectors. 

“Koala Story has strategically chosen the right time to expand its presence in the South Korean market,” Masamune said.

According to Innotree Inc. Brand Builder Manager, Alan Lee, the Koala Story founder and Innotree Inc. CEO, Harold Kim has been attracted to the uniqueness of Australian organic resources and Australia’s clean image for a long time.

“Many of our customers don’t know about Australian products but they’re attracted to brands based on chemical free ingredients such as Natio,” Lee said. 

“The Austrade Seoul office has been working with Koala Story for the last 18 months assisting our success.  Their support has been invaluable particularly with the receipt of samples from Australian suppliers.”

The most recent figures show Korea’s skin and facial product retail sales were worth over $5.4 billion in 2005.

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