Exporting and Moulding Ideals of Beauty: Boom of the South Korean Cosmetic Industry in the Era of Globalisation

University essay from Lunds universitet/Centrum för öst- och sydöstasienstudier

Abstract: The present thesis focused on analysing the recent opening of the South Korean cosmetic industry to the Western world, in combination to a trade of beauty ideals, facilitated by social media and the internet. More specifically, the study focused on three main levels of inquiry. Firstly, understanding how the South Korean beauty industry advertises its products abroad through social media outlets; secondly, understanding to what extent its foreign and domestic promotional campaigns differ, in relation to beauty ideals and gender norms; thirdly, elaborating the responses and reactions of Western consumers to the said advertisements. The thesis involved qualitative content analysis of selected pieces of literature on gender, beauty and media on a primary level, and the scrutiny and interpretation of cosmetics advertisements on a secondary one, along with consumers’ responses to the said campaigns. The promotional content that was taken into account comprised image advertisements, videoclips and official products descriptions from the two South Korean brands Laneige and Etude House. What emerged from the study is an employment of cultural and social codes to promote cosmetic products abroad, which generate consumer satisfaction and brand awareness, however further reinforcing gender-based stereotypes.

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