Oh, K-Beauty: 5 Questions With Nu Skin Korea VP MinSu Kwon


The needs of today’s beauty consumer are as sophisticated and diverse as the desire to become beautiful. The competition to satisfy such needs and keep up with the latest trends is more fierce than ever before. The beauty industry is in a constant state of change, ranging from products which feature the latest developments in technology to curation services designed to suit the lifestyle and beauty needs of each individual. At the heart of such change lies the search for the essence of beauty.

K-Beauty has become a phenomenon in the global beauty industry as more and more consumers seek wholesome beauty. Nu Skin Korea, which celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year, has always been at the heart of the glocalization of the beauty industry. Since its inception in 1984, Nu Skin enterprise has become a truly global beauty and health company with operations in over 50 countries. For more insights, we spoke with MinSu Kwon, Vice President of Nu Skin Korea.

Nu Skin Korea

What is the philosophy of Nu Skin as a global beauty and health company? What are the values of the brand?

First, Focus on essence. Nu Skin was founded on a simple vision of the founders, to ‘create a truly good skin care product.’ When I first joined the company, Nu Skin’s official tagline was ‘All of the good. None of the bad.’ In most cases, a cosmetics product would include 70% water as its main ingredient. In selecting the ingredients which fill up the other 30%, Nu Skin carefully considers what is best for the skin. The biggest difference between Nu Skin’s products from others in the market are the active ingredients. Each ingredient in Nu Skin is selected based on the proven efficacy it has on the skin and not because of a certain product concept or idea.

Secondly, Consistency. Products in the beauty and health industry are subject to change, based on the shifts in lifestyle and trends. However, Nu Skin does not create products that will generate short-term revenue by taking advantage of a particular trend. All of Nu Skin’s products need to adhere to its philosophy, which is a focus on the essence of beauty. We make sure that all of our products are consistently in line with our philosophy through our 6S process: Selection, Sourcing, Specification, Standardization, Safety, Substantiation. Even if the ingredient is organic and is known to be beneficial, we do not use it in our products unless it has proved effective scientifically.

Finally, Authenticity. Our business model relies on Direct Selling. Thus, our products reach the end consumer through our Nu Skin Distributors. The founding members of Nu Skin have always emphasized the importance of being honest and authentic. We do not work with anyone who is dishonest, even if that individual has the potential to generate profit for the business. The same principle applies to our recruiting process as well as our production processes.

Nu Skin Korea products LumiSpa

When introducing a new product to the Korean market, what are some key considerations? How is the product localized for the Korean market?

A global market meeting is held on a weekly basis to better understand the needs of each market’s consumers, which would help our decision regarding product development and launching strategies. We always consider the balance between Globalization and Regionalization extremely important, and ensure our business strategies take into consideration such variables.

We try to keep the concept, naming and design of the product as consistent as possible (Globalization) and come up with special products which cater to the unmet needs of a particular market (Regionalization). When developing the formula, we ensure that we meet all regulatory requirements and the needs of the consumers in the local market while maintaining consistency globally.

Nu Skin Korea lipstick

How did Nu Skin Korea develop its own make-up line? 

Nu Skin Korea developed a make-up product by bringing together Nu Skin’s expertise in skin care, the fast changing trends of the Korean market and the characteristics of K-beauty. In order to ensure that the new product is consistent with the existing (Nu Skin) skin care products, we kept the naming system consistent and made sure that we do not use any ingredients which not proven effective scientifically. We are now confident that we can create great make-up products on a global scale. The Nu color case is a great example of synergy generated between global headquarters and a regional office.

The Korean cosmetics market serves as a testbed for many global cosmetics brands. What are the unique characteristics of the market?  

The Korean beauty market has grown exponentially based on the passion of Korean women with regards to skin care. Consumers who go through a 10-step skin care routine and have a desire to try new products have constantly challenged cosmetics companies in Korea to come up with innovative, trendy, high-quality products faster than anyone else in the marketplace.

K-Beauty is also in the forefront of creating new categories for the cosmetics industry, such as the BB cream and cushion products. Further, many of the Asian markets consider Korea as a modern and refined country, which helps position K-Beauty in a more aspirational light.

The proliferation of K-Beauty was possible thanks to the efforts of Key influencers and their activities on SNS. Many Korean Beauty YouTubers who are active in Southeast Asia and China have accumulated a strong follower base. These influencers are also being offered marketing opportunities by local brands in each market, which creates a virtuous cycle for stronger influence.

What do you feel are the most important areas for investment in the fast-changing Korean cosmetics industry?

The most important themes in the foreseeable future are Customization and Personalization. Many of the product categories Nu Skin is investing in, including ageLOC Me, are related to Customization. Already there are customized cosmetics products being developed in Japan which are in Beta phase.

Also, regulations related to customized cosmetics products are being established across the globe. While this category is not profitable yet, we believe there is huge potential for growth. This is why we will continue to invest in this platform, ranging from skin care to make-up and even device-related cosmetics.