Image-conscious male consumers are buying more cosmetics than ever.
In South Korea, they call the look “chok chok” radiance, meaning dewy glow. Traditionally a feminine quality, this look is now being adopted by South Korean men as they emulate their idols, notably K-Pop stars and actors. The look is so popular that, foresight Research estimates, the country’s men use an average of 13 beauty products a month.
Where South Korea leads, the rest of the world is starting to follow. This year alone, L’Oréal has launched a men’s grooming range with David Beckham, while Chanel has launched Boy De Chanel, its first make-up range for men, in South Korea with a global roll-out to follow shortly. In China, hundreds of young male vloggers share beauty tips online.
Chanel’s slogan – “Beauty is not a matter of gender, it’s a matter of style” – sums up a change in the cultural zeitgeist which, Euromonitor forecasts, will drive global sales of men’s toiletries, shaving products and fragrances to more than US$60bn by 2020.
In some ways, the boom is not as new as it appears. In the 1970s, keen to sell what is essentially a perfume to men, the industry embraced the term ‘aftershave’. In the UK, Brut gave the game away with an advertising campaign starring sporting heroes that encouraged men to “splash it all over”. Nivea For Men, launched in 1986, was a harbinger of change to come and the brand’s parent company, Beiersdorf, launched a website for men’s grooming products last year.
Yet the revolution now seems to be gathering momentum. As reported in Bloomberg Businessweek, Beckham said: “The majority of guys I know do look after themselves.” Social media has encouraged this new attitude, especially among Generation Z. In the US, start-ups in skincare, antiperspirants and hair dye, backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital, are eschewing macho marketing for more gender neutral adverts and packaging.
In South Korea, looking good is an economic imperative – employers expect job applications to be accompanied by a photograph. The perceived need to emulate celebrities’ smooth complexions has sent sales of face cream soaring.
“In consumer and retail in the west, where many sectors are growing slowly – if at all – men’s grooming products is a significant opportunity for manufacturers and retailers,” says Anson Bailey, Head of Consumer & Retail, ASPAC, KPMG China. “Yet the established players will need to move quickly – and wisely – if they are to compete with a new wave of start-ups, inspired by Dollar Shave Club.”