An age-old philosophy that is now a giant beauty brand

Cleverly introducing brands tailored to various needs globally, while strengthening its business has made Amore pacific a force to be reckoned with

By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By BLOOMBERG

IT WAS sometime during the 1930s in Gaeseong, Korea, when a mother of six, Yoon Dok-jeong, came up with the idea to sell camellia hair oil, made in her household kitchen and said to be for the stylish women of the day.

Innisfree’s Jeju Cherry Blossom contains cherry blossom leaf extract, known for its skin brightening properties

The oil, meticulously crafted, was pure and hand-pressed from camellia seeds, a centuryold concept inspired by the powerful nature of traditional Asian beauty.

Yoon’s second son, Suh Sung-whan, soon learned the trade and would go on to establish Amorepacific Corp in 1945, which today, is one of the world’s most forward leading innovative beauty companies and the 14th-largest cosmetic group in the world.

According to the company’s portfolio, it has a range of 33 brands under its umbrella which include well-known names like Laneige, Mamonde, Innisfree, Etude House and Sulwhasoo.

Needless to say, the group had truly realised its vision in turning the Asian beauty concepts of health, balance and harmony with nature into brands that are now successful and known worldwide.

The company’s first branch was opened in Vietnam in 1998, and before long, the group had expanded to Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.

With Asean becoming more prominent, the Asia-Pacific region is projected to sustain growth and continue to draw attention from global beauty companies for its potential.

While the group has most definitely benefitted from the wave of Korean soap operas and its bursting music scene, the incredible growth the group has undergone is no simple fad that is bound to die off soon.

Cleverly introducing brands tailored to various needs globally, while strengthening its business has made Amorepacific a force to be reckoned with.

Interestingly enough, products under the various brands within the group have secured an edge, both scientifically and technologically, throughout time.

Laneige
This unique brand that was founded in 1994 has its roots in the interaction between water and skin, and how moisture is the key to vibrant and beautiful skin.

Laneige Sleeping Mask is said to give the skin a lively, well-rested and moisturised appearance

Discovering the power of moisture, Laneige developed “Water Science” which became the core technology to the brand, by converting water into explosive moisture energy.

Using the same technology, Laneige ventured into the study on the impact of sleep on the skin, while looking for a solution for skin issues resulting from sleep deprivation.

As a result, the group launched Laneige Sleeping Mask in 2002 and introduced a new category of beauty products in the global market as its flagship products.

The mask is said to give the skin a lively, well-rested and moisturised appearance, while helping it regain skin back to its healthy condition overnight.

Sulwhasoo

The origins of Sulwhasoo began when Suh travelled to France in 1960 to broaden his horizons and looked around the town of Grasse, known for its perfumes.

Sulwhasoo Cushion Compact set to revolutionise the global make-up culture

However, with the realisation that ginseng was a representation of his birth country, he was determined to produce cosmetics using the powerful plant.

Since the plant had never been used to make cosmetics, researches began from scratch and finally came up with a product called ABC Ginseng Cream, leading to the birth of Sulwhasoo.

The study using plant’s flowers, leaves, stems, as well as its cultivation environment was named “Ginsenomics”.

Results showed that ginseng saponin active in the skin was found in small amounts and was hard to extract.

For example, Compound K was good for ageing skin, while Ginsenoside F1 had skin brightening properties.

Today, after countless creams and serums containing ginseng as its main ingredient, the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream EX is the epitome of the brand’s science and is a leading anti-ageing cream in the current market.

Additionally, the line’s latest launch, the Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essence, includes capsules that contain ginseng seed oil to provide extra nourishment.

Meanwhile, another one of its mega achievements is the cushion compact, set to revolutionise the global make-up culture.

Recognised as one of the most innovative products, Amorepacific became the true pioneer of cushion compact and created a cosmetics category called “cushion” with the launch of IOPE Air Cushion in 2008.

Today, more than 100 million cushion compacts have been sold, prompting other beauty giants to release their own versions of the cult product soon enough.

Mamonde
Initiated in 1991, the name Mamonde comes from the translation of “my world” and is inspired by flowers and the study of them.

Mamonde’s Red Energy Serum, formulated with the ‘Blossoming Energy’ technology

The brand believed in flowers being the source of vitality for plants, since it has to thrive in its natural elements and survive, before eventually going into full bloom.

By continuing to study the natural conditions of plants, Mamonde discovered “Blossoming Energy”, an element that combines the core energy of flowering and the process that keeps it in the healthiest, safe condition.

Since then, the brand has entered the Chinese market and was also the first beauty brand to achieve RM35.03 billion (100 billion won) in annual sales in 1994. In a statement, the brand said that a part of its new line is Mamonde’s Red Energy Serum, formulated with the “Blossoming Energy” technology.

“The solution strengthens the skin’s core functions, restoring damages from external elements including fine dust, ageing, dry weather and frequent use of make-up. Safe for sensitive skin and hypoallergenic, the serum is mild on the skin and is known to create a radiant and natural glow,” it said.

Innisfree
Suh’s aim to continue his mother’s legacy soon led him to Jeju Island, also nicknamed the Hawaii of South Korea.

Despite it being a barren piece of land, he saw the potential of turning it into a green tea field and he was right, the natural elements — including the volcanic ash soil, mineralrich water and the right temperature, as well as precipitation levels — made it a grand harvesting spot.

In 2002, the harvest of its field formed the beginning of Innisfree, and until today, it has continued to unlock the many benefits derived from the island’s natural rare reserves.

Over the years, the brand has achieved many firsts like the launch of the Jeju Green Tea line in 2008, launch of Jeju Volcanic line in 2010 and store openings in both Singapore and India in 2013.

One of the newer lines is the Innisfree’s Jeju Cherry Blossom which contains cherry blossom leaf extract, known for its skin brightening properties and betaine, a nature-derived moisturising ingredient.

Etude House
Since launching in 1985 as Korea’s first specialised make-up brand, Etude House has evolved and revolutionised its products into playful and colourful packaging to create a culture.

Mamonde believes in flowers being the source of vitality for plants

Etude, a French word, was actually inspired by Chopin’s “Etudes” — how he turned work into melodies. The group wanted the same sentiments portrayed in its products.

Targeting the slightly younger female demographic, Etude House has more than 660 stores in 10 countries, including Malaysia. Etude flagship store in Malaysia opened in 2017 at Sunway Pyramid, riding on the “Hallyu” or better known as K-Wave fans in the country.

Some of its more popular items include Dear Darling Tint which has a refreshed feeling on lips like ice and Look At My Eyes, an eyeshadow range that promises staying power.

Global Group
Amorepacific achieved international sales of RM7 billion in 2019, driven mainly by sales growth in North America and Asia.

The continuing growth of Laneige, the Sephora US debut of Innisfree and Primera, as well as the launch of Innisfree in Canada have helped spur further growth.

Closer to home, the group entered into a business partnership with the largest distributor in Indonesia, PT Mitra Adiperkasa Tbk (MAP).

MAP group currently operates some 2,300 stores in 70 cities within the country and from this agreement, Amorepacific will be able to expand all its brands through MAP’s retail channels.