By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
The streets of Seoul are filled with shops like The Face Shop, Missha, Etude House, Nature Republic, Skin Food and Innisfree.
With a wide selection of cutely packaged makeup and skin care products at quite cheap prices, it is no surprise that many teenage girls and women flock to these so-called “bargain beauty’’ shops.
Yet it is actually not easy to distinguish one shop from the other. All of them have adopted the same marketing concept: to sell skincare and cosmetics products at affordable prices with an ad campaign featuring Hallyu stars.
Interestingly, more male stars are being featured in the ad campaigns to target young females and foreign fans of Korean stars. Nature Republic’s ads feature K-pop star Rain, while The Face Shop still uses actor Bae Yong-joon.
Even the tactics utilized to attract customers are the same. The Etude House, Nature Republic, The Face Shop and Missha give out free samples, boxes of cotton cosmetic pads, drinks and posters of Korean stars to customers who just enter the shop to browse.
Most of the products are priced in the low and mid-range, starting at 1,000 won for nail polish and face masks to 20,000-30,000 won for moisturizers and creams.
Almost all of the brands offer similar products. One can be sure to find face masks, BB creams, slimming gels, body scrubs and collagen creams. Some products even look alike, like Nature Republic’s ice cream yogurt pack and Tony Moly’s ice queen pack, are both packaged in pretty pastel-colored tubs.
But the cheaply priced products should come with a warning: You get what you pay for.
The Korea Times visited the different stores in Myeongdong, which is undoubtedly the busiest shopping area for tourists, and compared their services and products.
Nature Republic is a relative newcomer to the budget cosmetics market, having only opened last year, but is fast becoming popular among tourists. It is hard to miss the flagship store in Myeongdong, with the brown wooden facade and a huge billboard of Rain’s photo.
The store is obviously targeting foreign tourists, with its special “foreigner-only’’ section with staff that speak English, Japanese and Chinese. Products on the shelves are properly labeled in English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, plus there is a foreign exchange rate signboard and global tax refund available for purchases of more than 30,000 won. There is also free coffee and water and comfortable seats for tired tourists.
The shop is stocked with different lines, such as Collagen Dream 70, White Max Laser, Madagascar Wrinkle Filler and Pine Tree Urban Detox, but the sheer number of products can be daunting for customers.
The best-selling products are its stem cell and collagen-infused skincare lines, which are priced from 20,000 won to 35,000 won.
Credit : Korea Times
source : http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2010/09/123_73356.html