Cosmetics battle rages between 'purple' and 'brown' bottles

Park Sui in Seoul/The Korea Herald
Asia News Network

Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - Korean cosmetics brand MISSHA's "purple bottle" (Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule), a type of nutritional face oil product, sold 1 million bottles in January. As a reinvention of Estee Lauder's "brown bottle," it has been well received by Korean women.

Estee Lauder's brown bottle (Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex) has been a popular facial oil product across the world for several decades.

When MISSHA launched its purple bottle in January 2012, the Korean company was criticized for apparently attempting to benefit from the reputation of the famous brown bottle. However, the Korean product recorded sales of 10 billion won (US$926,000) in just three months.

MISSHA accentuated the product's mildness by stressing four "nos" of the purple bottle - no paraben, no ethanol, no artificial dyes and no synthetic perfume. A number of purple bottle users posted positive comments online.

Price competitiveness is another strength of the MISSHA purple bottle, which costs 42,000 won per unit, while Estee Lauder's brown bottle costs 155,500 won.

For all the recent positive developments, MISSHA has a long way to go to catch up with Estee Lauder's time-honored product. The U.S. cosmetics firm's representative brown bottle, especially popular among people in their 40s and 50s, has dominated the anti-aging essence market for the past 28 years.

"The price of Estee Lauder's brown bottle may seem high, but it is cost-effective since one bottle can be used for six to seven months," said Kang Hyun-ju, 50, a brown bottle user.

MISSHA is holding a 30 percent discount event to celebrate the purple bottle's 1 million sales record.

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Pix: 20130213-007