Propensity to Undergo Cosmetic Surgery and Services in Seoul

Kit Teng Phuah, Kelly Kai Seng Wong, Jenn Ling TingJL
International Journal of Community Development and Management Studies  •  Volume 3  •  2019  •  pp. 001-016

The focus of this study is to find the relationship between the components in Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) such as attitude, subjective norms (Media), subjective norm (celebrity), psychological attribute (self-esteem) and psychological attributes (social status) which influence Seoul Korea female intention to undergo cosmetic surgery in Seoul, Korea.

South Korea was ranked third in the world of cosmetic surgery in 2015. The Korean cosmetic surgery market is a promising market with 24% market share of the total world market. The market data about female willingness to undergo cosmetic surgery strongly suggests that marketers who work in the beauty and health industries associated with cosmetic surgery should pay attention to Seoul Korean women who are in the age group under 40 years old as the potential target market. In Korea, cosmetic surgery is frequently mentioned in normal conversation as a general topic and it is naturally settled as a culture.

The Seoul Korean female behavior with respect to use of cosmetic surgery is approximately determined by factors underlying the consumer’s behavioral intent. Thus, the theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) is used in this study because it attempts to explain consumer intentions and has a strong power of prediction of utility for a wide range of human behavioral attributes such as attitude, subjective norms (Media), subjective norm (celebrity), psychological attribute (self-esteem) and psychological attributes. A survey was conducted in Seoul, Korea where 400 female were interviewed by self-administrated questionnaire. Descriptive analysis, exploratory factor analysis and multiple regressions were used to examine the factors that influence Seoul Korean female intention to engage in cosmetic surgery.

This research provides an insight to the health and beauty industry, marketers, decision makers and academics on the factors that influence Seoul Korea female intention to engage with cosmetic surgery.

According to the research findings, Seoul Korean female attitude towards cosmetic surgery are generally positive, or favorable intention. That is to say, they usually think that the most effective way to improve their appearance and social status is to undergo cosmetic surgery. The study results (both qualitative and quantitative) support the proposition that the variables such as the media and the celebrities play important role in influencing females to do surgery. The results also provide important information to formulate and design strategies for the development and effective conduct of advertisements and promotions of cosmetic surgery. Lastly, other potential influencing factors were psychological attributes which are self-esteem and social status.

It is suggested that psychologists can try to find the clinical roles in helping the cosmetic surgery patients by identifying patients who may not adjust well psychologically or psycho-socially after surgery. Psychologists can examine the issues related to cosmetic surgery due to the increasing popularity and the link between appearance, body image, eating disorders, sexual functioning and social phobia.

To help to fill in the research gaps, it is recommended to examine on how cosmetic surgery makes patients feel, how cosmetic surgery affects those around the recipients and what the effect of cosmetic surgery would be on children and teenagers.

The increasing number of cosmetic surgery is having a dramatic impact on the Korean society. In Korea, the number of cosmetic procedures has nearly doubled in the past few years. Distorted perception of self-image, over dependence on the social media is enormous and cannot be overstated had also caused the dramatic rise of cosmetic surgery. The impact of social media has resulted in the rising demand for injectable facial fillers, liposuction, breast implants, buttock augmentation and Botox among younger generation.

It is suggested to conduct further research involving Korean females who have undergone cosmetic surgery. The extended research should attempt to determine the level of satisfaction towards non-core and post cosmetic surgery services. That is, after sales services, the skills and knowledge of the doctor, the clinic environment and other attributes that further define the total or augmented product.

Beauty Industry, Women Behavior, Cosmetic Surgery, Intention, South Korea
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