Korean skincare is BIG business. Driven by the global phenomenon of K-pop, Korean cosmetic products have won over Westerners. The explosion of interest in Korean skincare products means the global ‘K-beauty’ product market is set to grow to $31.6 billion (£23.8 billion) by 2029.
However, Korean skincare brands are falling down at the point of sale. Their marketing efforts are being let down by imperfect translations and poorly localised e-commerce websites.
The rise of ‘K-beauty’ has lessons to teach brands looking to move into new markets – both on what to do and on what not to do. Using the example of Korean skincare, in this article, we’ll explain how to do localisation the right way.
Why are Korean skincare products so popular?
Korean skincare’s popularity is in no small part due to the trend of K-pop, but there’s more at play here than hero worship.
Korean skincare products boast advanced formulas, which are streets ahead of European skincare brands. Then there’s the US which is one step further behind thanks to restrictions on ingredient usage enforced by the FDA.
The superior formulas and ingredients of Korean skincare products mean there’s a wide audience for the products. The challenge is getting them to the global consumer.
The most popular e-commerce outlets include SkinSider and YesStyle. Both target European consumers who are keen to explore Korean beauty. Social media influencers have fuelled this growing trend, by recommending these brands to their communities.
This organic publicity is great for Korean skincare brands, as it directs many new customers to view their products online. Bestselling products from brands like Iunik and Purito are flying off the virtual shelves.
Unfortunately, when customers arrive at the point of sale, they encounter poorly translated marketing messages, and in some instances untranslated website copy.
What you can learn from K-beauty’s marketing missteps
‘Stay Safe’ is a section on YesStyle’s UK website. It’s a collection of wellness and hygiene items, such as cloth masks for protection against COVID-19, hand sanitisers and vitamins for the immune system.
While the majority of the website is well translated, above we can see a clumsy translation.
“Keeping both your insides and outsides safe is a must!”
This is a sentence that wouldn’t be written by an everyday English speaker. While the meaning is clear, it’s poorly expressed. And the more instances of unnatural language on your website, the more likely customers will lose trust in your brand, especially when entering a new market.
Our top tips for mastering e-commerce localisation
We’ve seen how much potential the Korean skincare market has in the West. With expertly implemented e-commerce localisation strategies the sky’s the limit for K-beauty.
The following tips don’t apply only to Korean skincare brands. Any business looking to optimise their entry into overseas markets, should follow this advice.
Say no to Google Translate
It has improved dramatically in recent years, yet Google Translate still misses the mark for accurate language translation. Google Translate is often featured in the news for its service improvements, and it’s true it has come a long way.
Advances in machine learning have led to improvements in the tool’s ability to auto-translate. But, as smart as an algorithm can be in 2020, it loses ground when compared with actual human intelligence.
The ability to make fine judgement calls about language nuances is still the purview of humans. As translators, we can breathe a sigh of relief that the technology is not up to scratch just yet.
Use local speakers to translate content
When a brand launches a website in a new territory, it’s important that they use local, native speakers to translate their existing content. Why? Because content that speaks the natural language of consumers, builds confidence and trust. This is especially important in the case of new and unproven Korean skincare brands.
A product or service that is personal in nature, like skincare, needs clear and confident marketing messages. By using a native speaker, marketing messages have more clarity, are naturally free of language errors and can be easily understood by consumers – all of which builds consumer trust.
E-commerce is competitive; the brands that win new customers are those with clear and succinct messaging.
Think long term
Korean skincare brands are enjoying incredible levels of success at the moment. Long term success can be achieved from investing time and resources in translations. Rather than rushing translation at the last minute, or simply using Google Translate, a well-executed translation strategy will build success for the long term.
All this will help the Korean skincare industry to build on the quick wins it is currently experiencing.
Expert translation services
Here at Bubbles Translation, we have years of experience assisting multinational brands as they venture into overseas markets.
We’ve formed partnerships with world renowned brands like Disney, Facebook and The New York Times, and we can help your brand on the way to achieving international recognition. Our client list is affirmation of our high quality translation services, so get in touch today.