Exploring The Future Of "J Beauty"

j-beauty-trend

The first quarter of 2018 has seen “J Beauty” catapult its way into the spotlight. Many articles have held the sentiment that it’s set to overtake “K Beauty” and is where we should be turning our focus. However, at Pretty Analytics we think there’s room for both and consider them to run in parallel as they expand their influence across the US and European markets.

Photo by Redd Angelo on Unsplash


Whilst these coined terms are defined as trends, they are a lot more robust and long lasting as they represent the thriving beauty markets in Japan and South Korea, respectively. Flowing with innovation, refreshing design and a myriad of native botanical ingredients, neither one of these markets should be disregarded in terms of what they can bring to the global industry.

Why is J Beauty grabbing our attention again now in 2018?

Japanese brands such as DHC and Shu Uemura have been established and thriving across the West for years. The double cleansing method, is a brilliant example of a concept that has stuck around. Whilst K beauty is known for its novelty packaging and the “skintertainment” factor, Japanese beauty brands are focusing on bringing sophisticated offerings to the table. There is more focus on our growing global ageing population and providing skincare formulations to enhance glowing and radiant complexions and deeper hydration.

Pretty Analytics set about analysing Q1 2018 web content on the topic of “J Beauty”. Our most popular findings are depicted in the data visuals below. There was also a considerable mention of “South Korea” (due to the obvious and expected K Beauty comparison) but also China. There has been a significant increase in Chinese tourists opting to travel to Japan over South Korea (source: L2) and Japanese brands are rising to the top as a consequence. This opens up an opportunity for niche Japanese brands to project themselves into a strong market and open doors across to the US and UK as they garner attention. The increasing focus on Japanese beauty brands is definitely not a fad but an opportunity for long term industry growth and a chance to continue diversifying beauty markets around the globe.

 Breakdown of product categories discussed in web content about "J Beauty" for Q1 2018.

Breakdown of product categories discussed in web content about "J Beauty" for Q1 2018.

 Most popular topics and product type focuses mentioned in web content about "J Beauty" for Q1 2018.

Most popular topics and product type focuses mentioned in web content about "J Beauty" for Q1 2018.

 Most popular Japanese brands mentioned in web content about "J Beauty" for Q1 2018.

Most popular Japanese brands mentioned in web content about "J Beauty" for Q1 2018.


The Power of Japanese Aesthetic. 

It highlights the growing importance of the ritual and how we make time to invite beauty routines in as an act of self-care.

Consumer sentiment is shifting into the “less is more” mindset. Stepping away from the K Beauty 10-step routine and focusing on fewer targeted products is more in line with the Japanese beauty routine. This follows on to how brands will be continually inspired by Japanese aesthetic and lifestyle. The cute “Kawaii” style is already well established but there is a dimension of sophisticated and deeper meaningful connections to be made. We explored the future beauty impact of “shinrin yoku” and “wabi-sabi” in the Beauty Look Ahead report and covered emerging concepts that we expect to be prolific. At Pretty Analytics, we will continue to share and explore our findings on how these aesthetics and attitudes towards life will reflect through beauty and consumer’s emotional connection with products. This includes Shibui (unobtrusive and the beauty of simplicity) and Kanso (simplicity, no clutter and a minimalist approach). We will also open up the conversation around Iki, Enso and other principles that draw their focus from philosophy and historical culture.

It should not be a case of K Beauty vs J Beauty.

Embrace the different approaches to beauty these markets offer.

The K Beauty focus (especially with sheet masks) is still fairly new with retailers such as Sephora, Selfridges and Debenhams only significantly increasing their offerings in the last year. The future of beauty will see more Japanese beauty brands emerge with specific focuses but they are less likely to be promoted through this umbrella “J beauty” term. Instead, the focus will be on the brand message and Japanese roots, culture, inspiration and aesthetic.


Sarirah Hamid