Retail notes from Seoul: Getitbeautycon 2019

This was a bit of an impromptu trade show visit! Visiting the big Chicor flagship in Gangnam I discovered Korean skin care brand Toun28, started following them on Instagram and saw in their Instastories that they were exhibiting at a COEX event called Getitbeautycon this weekend.

Then I googled Getitbeautycon and found out that this is an annual beauty expo organised by popular Korean cosmetics reality show, Get it Beauty. As you might expect Getitbeautycon is a lifestyle-ey event rather than a serious trade show – hordes of Korean beauty bloggers, Q&As with celebs and influencers, brand promotions and activities, live makeovers and workshops, freebies and selfie corners; you get the idea : )

I really wanted to get the opportunity to look at the Toun28 products in more detail (the Chicor only had a partial selection) so I decided to check out the expo, and I’m so glad I went! I spent most of Sunday at the show and really enjoyed myself, discovered some interesting new brands and even met some old favourites.

Click on the link below for pictures and brand discoveries from the 2019 edition of Getitbeautycon! Spoiler alert: if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen these brands in my feed already. However, I can be so much more expansive in a blog article than within the restrictive Instagram word limit : )

Getitbeautycon took place from 3rd to 5th May 2019 at COEX exhibition centre in Seoul, on the same weekend as several other consumers expos and events (including the Seoul Fashion Festival) so the exhibition centre and the malls surounding it (or rather, running underneath it!) were hopping with people! The beauty con opened its doors at 10am, I arrived there at 10.30am when it was still comparatively empty. By the time I left, at around 4pm, the hall was absolutely packed.

With more than 100 exhibitors, Getitbeautycon was somewhat bigger than I expected. Most of the companies were cosmetics brands, of course, but the show wasn’t just about beauty – perhaps a third or so of exhibitors were from the fashion, accessories and lifestyle sectors. The expo also featured a rather large Pet Zone (see pic below), with companies presenting a staggering range of pet consumer goods (clothing, toys, foods, accessories, grooming products).

Since this is a consumer-focused show the entire set up was much more playful and appealing than the “normal” trade shows that I usually visit – with selfie corners, activity areas, stylish and/or healthy coffee carts and snack bars, plenty of comfortable seating areas (including a section which featured bean bags suitable for proper selfie-worthy lounging!).

The brand line-up at the show included big names such as Dr. Jayjun, Avajar, Sixteen, Thank you Farmer,  Isntree, Pure Foret and OPI Korea but also a host of smaller and newcomer brands.

I was a bit surprised to see Eastar Jet (a Korean low-cost airline) at the show but then realised that there’ll be corporate sponsors, of course, like Marie Claire Korea which was also present at Getitbeautycon 2019. So were leading Korean beauty app Glowpick, mobile beauty platform Unpa.Cosmetics (they also manufacture a range of super trendy beauty products under the Unpa. brand name, which I’ve actually seen in-store here in Seoul, but didn’t realise this was a SNS (social media) collab!) and Powder Room, an online beauty community.

ISNTREE

One of the first brands I saw as I walked into the hall was natural beauty brand Isntree. I love their Hyaluronic Acid Toner (I mean, who doesn’t?! It’s an amazing product) and when I saw the brand last, at Beauty Düsseldorf trade show this March, I bought several packs of their sheet masks and a niacinamide ampoule, both of which I really like.

At Getitbeautycon Isntree presented its new Mugwort range for problem and oily skin. Launched in April the Mugwort line-up offers a creamy clay mask, a powder wash, a gauze sheet mask and an ampoule; all packaged in beautiful shades of dark green. Another new product are the Clear Skin AB Peeling Pads (see pic above) which are cottonwool pads pre-soaked in a AHA, BHA and PHA-based peeling liquid.

HANNAH PAD

On my previous visits to Seoul I had already noticed that washable/reusable menstrual pads seem to be a bit of a thing in Korea – all of the Olive Young drugstores carry at least one of these brands. We’re talking about the classic drugstore brand line-up here; the amazing range of Korean period product brands that I saw in Soak Beauty’s health and cosmetics corner in Going Mary concept store (check my Insta feed for pics of this new and fabulous clean/organic K-beauty location in Seoul!) – including period panties and menstrual cups – are a fairly recent development, I think.

However, reusable cotton menstrual pads have been around for years and Korean brand Hannah Pad is one of the major players in this sector: the brand was launched 12 years ago. In Korea their products are sold in every major drugstore and/or health & beauty chain as well as the the US, Australia, Singapore, South Africa and a few other big international markets.

Hannah Pad offers six different pad sizes to cater to different flow days and there are 13 different patterns/styles to chose from. The pads clip onto your underwear with push buttons. In the pic below you can see the different cotton layers that make up the pad.

GRÜNERSEE

I can never resist Asian beauty brands that use German words as part of their brand names! Grünersee translates as “green lake” and refers to one of the key ingredients in the Korean newcomer brand’s portfolio – Jeju  volcanic sea water. In the pics you can see some of the products in the brand’s Jeju Lava Water range.

Grünersee was launched last year and at the moment they sell their 23-sku range in Korea only; primarily online and in one of the big Shilla Duty Free stores. However, I was told that their first international market will be mainland China.

TOUN28

My main reason to visit Getitbeautycon! As I mentioned in the intro paragraph I discovered Toun28 in the big Chicor perfumery in Gangnam area a few days ago. The first thing I noticed was the distinctive brown paper packaging which, as it turns out, Toun28 developed itself (it’s a patent-pending design). Toun28 CEO Junsoo Park (whom I met at the show) told me that his company is constantly redeveloping the packagaging to make it even more sustainable.

A bit of background about the brand: Toun28 is a start-up brand which was launched in 2016. After they managed to secure funding from Korean consumer group Amorepacific’s digital investment division the brand started to roll out its unique beauty subscription model: Toun28 offers “adaptive skincare based on climate data” – freshly-made and fully customised beauty products that are tailored to your skin’s constantly changing requirements and the individual climatic conditions at the place where you live.

And this is how it works: you sign up on the Toun28 website and a company skin care advisor will get in touch with you. You meet this advisor at a café or public place near your home or place of work and he/she will complete a detailed skin care questionnaire with you – skin type, condition, specific skin care concerns; you can also tell him/her what your preferred product formats are (creams, lotions or whatever) and whether you’d like your skin care scented or unscented and which fragrance you prefer. Toun28 only uses essential oils in its products and you can even decide how strong you’d like your product fragrance.

The company takes the individial skin care data and combines it with climate big data – like, what are the climatic conditions of the area/location that you live in (temperature, humidity, pollution) – and will then predict how your skin is going to react to the changing weather because, as Toun28 says, your skin needs change every month depending on the season, weather and other climatic/external factors so using the same skin care products all year round don’t make much sense from a skin health point of view.

Once a month Toun28 will then send you suitable skin care products  that are formulated to address your specific skin needs that particular month. The brand name, by the way, refers to the 28 days that our skin needs for a complete renewal process, and the letters TOUN stand for T-Zone (T), the cheeks (O), the jaw/sides of your face (U) and the nasolabial section of the face (nose and mouth, N). The skin is very different on these four facial areas so the Toun28 skin care advisor will analyze each of these sections.

The brand’s product formulas are natural and three of the products in the line – the hand cream and the two SPF50++ sun protection creams B1 (dry skin) and B2 (oily skin) are organic as in, really organic. I bought the B2 sun cream and a friend translated the INCIs for me (at the moment, the product info is only available in Korean but I was told that English-language materials will be available soon) and the formulation is impressive.

The B2 cream, for example, is based on 46% organic black bean extract, zinc oxide as a filter, organic rice extract, organic grapeseed oil, calamine powder, processed plant oils, safflower oil, calendula extract and the preservatives used are a combination of licorice root extract, peony root extract and Chinese skullcap extract. A marvelously light texture.

Toun28’s ready-to-use product portfolio offers three body lotions, three face creams, a hand cream and the aforementioned two sun creams, plus 16 bars soaps which include four hair soaps, four body cleansing bars and three dishwashing soap bars. This company really takes the whole zero waste approach seriously!

Excepting the bar soaps, all Toun28 products are packaged in paper pouches (paper fibres on the outside, green polyethelene as an inside layer, with a plastic/aluminium covered spout and cap) – super portable and so stylish! The design is a real eye-catcher – the Chicor perfumery where I first saw the products had placed at least four other niche beauty brands next to Toun28 but the brand’s pack design really stood out on the shelf.

The company does not just use Korean climate data, by the way; they also collect international climate data and, as I was told at the show, the brand has around 20 customers that live outside of Korea and they still get their skin care products delivered each month, with products formulated according to the climatic conditions at their international location.

I’m really impressed by Toun28’s brand concept and now that I’ve tried out some of their products I like them even more. I can’t wait to see how the brand’s concept will play out internationally.

SIXTEEN

I love the playful and pretty packaging of Korean makeup brand Sixteen (part of the brand stable of Chosungah 22) . Check out the “eye magazines” (eyeshadow powder palettes that look like magazines, see pic below!)

One of the reasons why the “magazines” were trending so hard on social media after their launch in late 2017 was the unusual product concept: the two-tone eyeshadows are designed to be applied in one stroke. The square applicator brush takes up the two colours neatly and you can then apply them to your eyelids in one single stroke rather than applying one colour after the other.

I’ve never seen Sixteen at any of the Asian trade shows that I usually go to, so I spent quite a bit of time at their Getitbeautycon booth – also, one of the booth ladies spoke excellent English and told me all about the products. And I got to mess around with their bestselling Mochipacts which was so much fun!

Ok, so Sixteen’s newest launch is Filter Shot which offers to face makeup products, one for contouring and one for shading. Like the “eye magazines” these are one-stroke products: swipe the applicator brush horizontally along the two colours (don’t swirl!) and then apply it straight down your T-Zone or along your cheeks.

Another new launch are four new shades in the R U 16 Fruit Chu collection of lipsticks. The packaging looks exactly like an ice-cream or chocolate bars!

The brand’s bestsellers are the afore-mentioned Mochipacts (see above): blushers and foundations with a fabulous texture; firm and pliable at the same time so you can stick your fingers into the colours and mold it and then simply stroke the surface flat again. It’s quite addictive.

SEEDBEE

More amazing textures from Korean bath and body care brand Seedbee: I particularly liked the jiggly blue body cleansers you can see in the pic below – the texture is that of a very firm jelly but you can still poke it and play around with it. Seriously, I couldn’t keep my hands off these blue jellies!

The cleansing line-up also includes the two solid cleansing bars you can see in the picture above: one contains gold flakes, the other has a dark blue background with a golden moon and stars on it. They are sold in presentation boxes and are very often purchased as gifts.

The blue jelly cleansers are packaged in individual plastic containers which in turn are packaged in the powder blue bag you can see in the picture. The jellies come with a little net bag: stick the blue jelly into the bag and it’ll generate a very nice amount of foam.

Seedbee was launched two years ago and their products are sold in Korean consumer giant Amorepacific’s Aritaum perfumery chain as well as in Thailand, Canada and Russia.

TPSY

Love the bar design of Korean makeup brand TPSY‘s Getitbeautycon exhibition booth! TPSY was launched in 2016 and the two founders told me that they decided to call their beauty brand “tipsy” because they initially met in a bar and got married two weeks later! The decision to launch a makeup brand came very soon after, so TPSY is all about spontaneity and doing crazy things. I like that kind of backstory : )

TPSY has already achieved an impressive distribution, the brand’s 160-sku portfolio of eye, lip and face makeup products is sold in the US in Nordstrom (department stores), Ulta Beauty (drugstores) and Birchbox (a beauty subscription service which is now branching out into offline retail). In Korea, TPSY is sold online and offline in Lotte stores (which means a very solid domestic presence, believe me – Lotte is one of the big retail groups in Korea) and the products are also available in several other international markets, like Thailand, Kuwait and Mexico, with Europe to follow in the next couple of years or so.

The newest launch within the TPSY portfolio is the  range of Cushion Pop Foundations (see pic above; you twist the base to release the colour into the sponge-y applicator tip) which is available in ten shades. The colour palette is very inclusive indeed for an Asian brand, but of course the company sells its products internationally so they need a solid range of colours. I was also told that TPSY’s Korean customers tend to use the darker shades for contouring, so it’s a win-win situation I guess : )

I’ll leave you with some more pics from Getitbeautycon 2019. Enjoy!

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Filed under Asia, Brand Profiles, Events, Industry News, Retail, Show Reports, Trade Shows, Travel, Trends

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