The Korean Wave… it's not just the size, but the fact that it keeps on coming

The Korean Wave… it's not just the size, but the fact that it keeps on coming

By Maz Amirahmadi · 6 July 2016 · 2 minute read


It was June, 2010.

"What is CC?" asked the lady. 

"I’m not really sure, but apparently it’s the thing that comes after BB" replied the man.

The lady in question was one of ABN Impact’s biggest clients at the time. The man was me, fumbling for an answer to a question relating to CC Cream (Colour Correcting), the new beauty innovation that had just been identified in our Bangkok Beauty online trends community. The meeting was set up to discuss the “Korean Wave” which was the main trend then taking over the beauty industry. We were initially there to try and get our heads around BB Cream (Blemish Balm). Now all of a sudden the conversation had moved to the next letter. 

Six years on, the Korean wave just keeps on coming and coming and coming.  Initially most prominent in Asia, it has now swept across the world.  Whilst I was doing my research for this post, I read in Wikipedia that Korean series reach over 90% of TV viewers in Iran.  Clearly the wave is crossing all cultures and religions as well as geographies.

Indeed, Korean drama series are often reported to be at the heart of the wave. According to anecdotal reports, the genesis of the wave came in the 1980s when the Korean government, having identified drama series as the potential springboard to driving "Hangul: 한류", sought to make favourable deals with TV companies across Asia. If this is indeed true, then you can only applaud the effort and success. From cosmetics, to eyewear, clothes, hairstyles, music, food, snacks, drinks… you name it, the Korean influence is there.

So, it’s very exciting for ABN Impact to be launching our office in Seoul. We certainly hope it’s a springboard to deeper understanding of consumer trends across Asia. 

Back to that 2010 meeting, the client asked when we thought the wave would subside. I can’t remember how we answered but if things continue as they are, maybe we’ll be running out of letters in the alphabet. Calling Dusty Hill of ZZ Top… it might be time for another comeback!

Over and out.