Editor’s note: Euromonitor International is a market research firm headquartered in London. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “The growth of K-beauty in the U.S. market.”

The 2018 Winter Olympics may be over, but the world is still buzzing about all things South Korean. South Korea has continued to emerge as one of the top drivers for global economic and fast-moving consumer goods industries, which is inspiring many new trends in other countries.

South Korean culture comes in many forms – in song, movie, television, food and distinctive fashion. The overall culture and consumption of the population in South Korea is very much influenced by popular actors and singers endorsing the products. Fans are more likely to buy products that their idols are endorsing, which causes major market shifts and can increase consumption significantly. Moreover, as the actors and singers become popular overseas, so do the products that they promote. As a result, manufacturers compete to get the most popular representatives for their brands, and this forms a major part of their overseas expansion strategy.

There is no doubt that many brands and manufacturers have utilized the Olympics to catapult their products onto the world stage during South Korea’s moment in the spotlight. This can be seen especially with the growth of K-beauty products in the U.S. market.

Social media influences growth 

In 2015, South Korea’s beauty exports to the U.S. grew 59 percent, reaching $207 million. Social media has propelled the growth of K-beauty in the U.S. by turning skin care and makeup routines into creative outlets for self-expression. The rapid proliferation of social media since the late 2000s has provided fashion-forward individuals with a myriad of platforms to spread the gospel of K-beauty. Makeup and skin care-loving Koreans took to YouTube, blogs and Instagram to share their interests with the rest of the world. Product reviews and makeup tutorials engage and educate viewers, while transformation videos, in which YouTubers alter themselves into recognizable celebrities, highlight the astonishing power of makeup and excite the viewer’s imagination.

Social media celebrities have been more successful at promoting Korean skin care than corporate or government-sponsored marketing campaigns because they focus on the topics that truly excite them, while also providing compelling video and photographic evidence of their personal skin care journeys.

U.S. Millennial market

As the generation that inspired the term hipster, many Millennials passionately embrace individualism. These fashion-forward children of the information age investigate products online before they shop, relying on reviews and tutorials to appraise product efficiency; thus they readily seek out niche and foreign brands. Because Korean skincare transcends the traditional Western cleanse-tone-moisturize routine, K-beauty’s myriad of products like serums, essences, ampoules and masks can be customized to an individual’s exact skin care needs and preferences. The array of products appeals to Millennials who are paying more attention to their skin’s unique needs than previous generations.

Many Millennials respond strongly to novelty and emotional appeals, making room in their bathroom cabinets for products with cute designs, alluring scents, transforming textures and on-trend ingredients which set them apart from mainstream American beauty products. This drives interest in brands like Tony Moly, with products packaged to look like whimsical cartoon fruit and animals, and Missha, whose collections include imaginative collaborations with Hello Kitty and D.C.’s Wonder Woman. The fun of K-beauty appeals to even the youngest Millennial consumers; Leah Park, co-owner of Korean beauty retailer Choc Choc in Chicago, remarks that customers as young as 10 years old come to her store to purchase cute products like sheet masks printed with animal faces. South Korean brands stand to gain significant market share in the U.S. teen and preteen market with endearing product design and packaging.

Korean brands like Innisfree and Skin Food have a “natural” angle to them, aligning well with increasing Millennial interest in natural, organic and sustainably sourced products across all areas of beauty and personal care. Euromonitor International’s 2015 Beauty Survey found that 13 percent of U.S. respondents seek out natural or organic color cosmetic products and 20 percent seek out natural or organic skin care products. Thus, Korean beauty brands hoping to enter the U.S. beauty market would do well to emphasize their products’ gentleness and natural ingredients further.