The Korea Herald


Imported cosmetics prices highest in Korea: report

By Korea Herald

Published : Sept. 13, 2012 - 20:55

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Imported cosmetics brands are selling their products at higher prices in Korea than in major overseas markets, with lipsticks showing an up to eight-fold difference in prices, a consumer advocacy group said Thursday.

According to a recent survey by the Seoul YWCA, the cosmetics prices at Korean department stores were the highest among eight countries, including Japan, Australia, Italy, Germany, the U.S., the U.K. and France.

Based on purchasing power parity among countries, Korea was selling cosmetics at 30 to 40 percent higher prices on average, almost double the prices in Australia, said the report, which was sponsored by the Fair Trade Commission.

The 13 U.S.-made products, including those from Estee Lauder, Kiehls and Clinique, were on average 51 percent more expensive in Korea than in U.S. department stores.

French brands like Chanel, Lancome and Sisley also were selling their products at more than 20 percent higher here than in France.

Prices at department stores were most expensive, followed by online shopping malls, individual importers and duty free shops.

Of the four best-selling items surveyed ― essence, eye cream, compact foundation and lipstick ― the biggest price difference was found in lipsticks, with a sales price of 36,714 won ($33) each at department stores compared to the import price of 4,673 won on average.

The group said the price difference was bigger than in other previously surveyed products such as imported electric irons with a 2.3-fold difference, frying pans with 2.6-fold and whiskeys with 5.1-fold.

“Due to the exclusive sales of a few importers, the market competition is not working properly. Alternative sales channels need to be activated, with importers fixing prices at reasonable level,” said a YWCA official.

By Lee Ji-yoon (