Import from Korea
Korea the economic miracle
Korea is one of the most highly industrialized countries in Asia. The country’s growth rate is enormous. Korea has developed from a developing country into a highly developed economic nation in a very short time.
Due to trade agreements between the EU and South Korea, there are no customs duties on most items from South Korea, which makes importing particularly attractive.
Cosmetics from Korea – K-Beauty – Korean cosmetics and care products as an export hit
Koreans attach great importance to their (body) care. In particular, flawless and radiant skin is a sign of beauty. It is not for nothing that Korea is one of the top leading industries for cosmetics and skin care. There is a range of different products that Koreans use every day and are either already in use here in Germany or more and more are on the rise. Moisturizers, make-up with integrated UV protection, face masks, BB or CC creams or different types of lipsticks. What is special is that men in Korea do not skimp on care (and the use of makeup), so Korea is a pioneer in terms of care products especially for men. With the big hype of Korean culture with K-Pop (Korean music genre) and KDrama (Korean TV series), the K-Beauty trend is also booming more and more. Young women not only want to dress like their role models from Korea, they also want to apply make-up and groom themselves accordingly. YouTube is overflowing with tutorials on how to do the perfect makeup or how to keep up with your daily grooming routine. Of course, only Korean products are used in these videos, which are (still) difficult to obtain here in Germany.
Besides the hype surrounding Korean culture, what makes Korean cosmetics so special now?
Korea is always one step ahead. The cosmetics industry is constantly developing new recipes, ingredients and textures. It is not for nothing that it is called in Korean: 빨리 빨리 = (Balli Balli) fast, fast.
With the “Balli Balli” culture, it’s no wonder that face masks are a must-have in Korea. It’s hard to imagine Korean life without them. In Korea, these are mostly masks made of cloths that are only placed on the skin and have to act. And in Germany, too, the majority of women use them regularly.
Looking at Korean women, one realizes that the highly developed cosmetics industry and the use of Korean products seems to be working after all. Korean women have flawless skin. And if you should see one or the other pimple, dark circles or something similar, there is the perfect Korean make-up that makes it disappear immediately.
Korea has many different TOP beauty brands. These include: Missha, It’s Skin, Etude House, Innisfree and many more. Korean cosmetics range from the cheap version, to vegan and purely natural products, to the luxury segment.
Since Korea attaches great importance to health and, in addition to modern approaches, continues to rely on natural healing methods, Korean cosmetics and care products with natural ingredients such as green tea, honey, lotus, aloe vera for moisture, ginseng, as well as very exotic ingredients such as snail slime or algae.
Korean cosmetics and skin care are inseparable. Wearing (Korean) make-up requires special intensive care before and after applying the make-up. That is why there are many products that build on each other and can be launched and sold together perfectly.
How does the import of Korean cosmetics work?
Since the laws regarding ingredients and processing of cosmetic products differ in Korea and Europe, not every product that comes from Korea is suitable for import. In order to meet the demanding EU regulations, you need to have a certain knowledge in order to be able to import as smoothly as possible. This is where we come into play for you. With us you will find trained specialists with many years of experience in importing Korean (and also from other countries) cosmetics that meet European standards. European laws determine which ingredients are permitted in the EU and can therefore also be sold in stores. For you, this means: Whether manufactured in the EU or imported from other countries, especially Korea, the products must meet these requirements. We will support you in this process so that you have a smooth and uncomplicated import process and you will only sell the legally permitted products in Germany. For more information regarding the regulations for the import of cosmetic products see:
A brief overview of Korean culture
and the business etiquette in Korea
The Asian culture and thus also Korea is shaped a little differently than our western culture. There are other focal points in cooperation and the business etiquette also has its peculiarities. So that you too can build up and maintain a successful and long-term business relationship with Korean companies and business people, here are a few special features that you should know and consider before making initial contact. In Korea, due to the special nature of the language, which can be divided into different forms of politeness, respect for the age and status of the other person is in the foreground. In Korea it is common practice not to address others by their names but by their titles (e.g. teacher Kim, manager Kim). Respect for old age is expressed through a higher form of politeness in the language. There are also other gestures (bowing deeper when greeting or pouring alcohol) that show this respect in addition to language. This respect does not mean that one is inferior or has to be submissive. It is respect for the whole of society in which everyone is a part. Koreans see themselves as a big whole. The community and not the individual comes first and if everyone follows these rules, there will be harmony and a community fabric. This community aspect is one of the reasons why it is so difficult for a foreigner to be included in this group. First of all, you have to build trust with the respective business partner and show that you understand the culture and the responsibility for society as a whole. In the end, the key to good cooperation and partnership between you and a Korean company is the personal relationship. Once you have established this bond, nothing stands in the way of business success.
When you first meet, please do not fold your hands like a monk and bow. Korea is not to be equated with a specific religion. However, in Korea it is a sign of politeness to bow slightly or tilt your head slightly forward. The older and the higher the other person is in society, the deeper the bow has to be. Korea has also become more modern and you can no longer go wrong by shaking hands with yours. However, bowing slightly is a sign of respect (and most importantly, shows that you’ve engaged with the culture) and your Korean business partner will, too.
When you get to know each other, exchanging business cards is the be-all and end-all. If you receive a business card, accept it with both hands and please do not just put it in your jacket pocket right away. Take an interested look at the card and once you are seated, place the card in front of you. Also hand over your business card with both hands, while you are welcome to bow a little.
A small gift from home is always very welcome. In Korea it is also common to give away fruit baskets, alcohol, German branded goods or good chocolate. You don’t have to bring an extremely expensive gift (in addition, Koreans then feel obliged to do the same) – but a small gift, something typical from Germany, is welcome.
Alcohol and food culture:
The biggest part of building and strengthening your relationship with Korean business partners takes place in bars and restaurants. You will quickly notice that your Korean business partners like to prolong the evenings with you. It is customary to eat and drink extensively together. Soju will become your best friend for this time. Unfortunately, you will definitely score more by drinking along and should not refuse one or the other glass. It’s also possible that after dining out, you’ll move on to a karaoke bar and have some fun there. When it comes to eating, there are a couple of things you might want to watch out for.
1. Never stick the chopsticks in the rice. Just put them next to the bowl.
2. Slurping and slurping is allowed and shows that you like it. (but that doesn’t mean you have to do it)
3. No blowing your nose. If your nose is running from the spicy food, just go to the toilet for a moment.
4. The eldest or the most senior may take the first bite. Again, the respect that runs through Korean culture is evident. So it’s best to wait until you start eating.
5. Pouring alcohol: If you want to show special respect, use both hands to pour a new glass of soju (Korean liquor) for your business partner.
As mentioned above, Koreans often don’t even address each other by their real names. Usually one addresses his opposite with the respective title or the title plus last name. For example Manager Kim. In Korea, first names are written first, followed by last names. For example, if you see the name Kim Doyeon on the manager’s business card, “Kim” is the last name and “Doyeon” is the first name. You can therefore address Mr Kim as: – Mr Kim – Manager Kim. If your business partner speaks German, then you can’t go wrong with Mr. Kim.
Koreans not only dress well in everyday life. You should always come to business meetings or negotiations in a suit, preferably in darker shades, and a white blouse and tie. Women should also apply subtle make-up and keep their outfit colors subtle and classic.
Read between the lines:
Unfortunately, you will not always get clear words from Koreans. You will find that Koreans like to talk around a yes or no. How so? Here, too, the social aspect and “thinking of the other person” play a role. A no means bad feelings and a rejection. Nobody wants to know that and that is why it is rarely spoken to you. You don’t want to disturb the harmony and therefore prefer to convey in a different way that a partnership or further cooperation is probably out of the question. So read between the lines. A yes also does not mean a “direct yes” – but often only that what was said was heard. In the end it means for you: don’t always rely on the fact that everything is safe.
After the first contacts:
If you already have a deal in the bag, are entering into negotiations again or something similar, it is very important to maintain and maintain the business relationships. Feel free to contact us by phone or email in the meantime. Definitely visit your business partners when in Korea. You are also welcome to invite yourself to Germany and do something typical of the country.