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Beauty Branding: What Western Brands can Learn from Asia

Posted By: SGK February 18, 2016

Around the world, stereotypes of masculinity and beauty are changing– and changing rapidly. In fact, from 2012 to 2014, the global male grooming market grew by 70 percent, with an expected worth of USD 21.4 billion in 2016. And if those numbers don’t impress you, what about this: in China, the men’s grooming category is growing by 20 percent a year!

Read: Men’s Beauty Goes Big in Asia

According to SGK’s Director of Growth, Kathryn Sloane, this rapid growth is due to several factors. While beauty trends for both men and women come and go, something remains the same for men’s beauty, particularly in Asia.

Unlike men’s beauty standards in the US, UK, and Australia, in Asian culture, good looks and proper upkeep are signs of success and sophistication. Where in the US, men wearing foundation is almost unheard of.

Big B and little b products are the key differentiators in these cultures. In the West, little b beauty products refer to the products designed for basic hygiene, like razors, while in the East, big B beauty products are used by men to flaunt their individuality, like nail polish, and eye shadow. The use of big B beauty products in Asia is often associated with confidence and professionalism, and is socially encouraged.

While Western men typically don’t talk openly about beauty trends or personal grooming habits, it may surprise you that the U.S. led the world in new men’s grooming product launches in 2014. However, despite the increase in new product development, Western markets don’t quite match up with Asia in terms of actual sales. For example, in South Korea, men use an average of 13 grooming products per month!

From the metrosexual look of 10 years ago, to the rise of the bearded hipster, there is something to be said for men’s beauty trends in the West. Nowadays, men are taking on a new pride for grooming – from “craft” beard care to the reintroduced tradition of male-oriented barbershops, it may be time for Western brands to go bigger.

In the first 2016 issue of Patterns, Kathryn Sloane offers 5 things brand owners should consider when exploring the grey area between little b and big B beauty. She also explains in more detail what the West can learn from the Asian markets, especially in Vietnam, Thailand, and Taiwan, which show the strongest category growth in Asia.

Read Kathryn’s entire article titled “Men’s Beauty Goes Big in Asia: What Can Western Brands Learn?” in the new issue of Patterns.