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Comparison of Top 5 skincare products of Korea vs. Japan

Posted by MeasureChina

I. Top 5 product list in skincare category

The table below shows the most sold skincare products of Korea and Japan during June.

Table1. Comparison of Top 5 skincare products of Korea vs. Japan


Source: MeasureCommerce | MeasureChina
 One of the prominent differences is that Japanese products are bought in single items while Korean products are usually bought in bundles.

II. Implication from Japan’s ranking list


1) 3 out of Top 5 are identical

: Three out of Top 5 skincare products list are the same SK-II essence. This implies that brand loyalty for SK-II is strong enough to generate repurchase of the same product. The brand boasts constant demand from local consumers despite its premium price, and is maintaining the position as the most loved Japanese brand every month since this year. It has completely broke the typical stereotype that Chinese consumers lack brand loyalty.


2) 1 or 2 miniature product giveaway

: It appears in MeasureChina dashboard that Japanese brands usually include free giveaway of the same but mini-sized product when consumers buy a regular product. This strategy is particularly valid for SK-II since the brand is well-known for its premium price and image. But including giveaways seems like a popular tactic for many Japanese brands instead of offering discounts. Elixir’s lotion, which ranked 8th place in skincare, also included a miniature product as a free giveaway.



III. Implication from Korea’s ranking list


1) Mostly sold in skincare sets

: Korean skincare products that sold the most (ranked 1st to 4th) are all in bundles. Consumers purchases skincare sets when brand awareness is low or when they need to buy a present for someone. With this factor in mind, we can see that Korean cosmetics have a positive image, but it is hard to say that certain brand or certain product has a strong preference from the locals.


2) Emphasis on low price

: Contrary to Japanese brands that only included 1 or 2 miniatures with the purchase of a regular product, Korean brands provides a lot of samples. Also, they emphasize that the price at a discount. Thus it is obvious that Korean brands lack premium image compared to Japanese brands, and rather carry the impression of ‘cheap and affordable.’ The official product images registered on Taobao show this difference at a glance. AHC mentions price discount on thumbnail image, and Laneige put a phrase on the bottom that says ‘samples worth 313 yuan are included.’


In conclusion, Japanese brands do an excellent job in setting certain brand image, and carry out sales strategy that is most suitable to that image. Premium brands offer complimentary miniature products with the purchase of a regular product, but rarely take the price discount strategy. This contributes to enhancing the premium brand image and encourages repurchase in return.

On the other hand, Korean brands are more focused on reassuring consumers that buying their product is a good deal. In skincare, sets usually sell better than single items. Brands offer a great deal of samples and emphasize price discounts regardless their original price segment(premium or mass).


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