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Men’s Beauty: A Billion-Dollar Opportunity for Brands

Posted By: SGK May 27, 2016

In a recent BrandSquare webinar, Kathryn Sloane, director of growth at SGK, explores some of the changing facets of the men’s grooming category.

Watch the entire webinar now: Men’s Beauty Going Big in Asia: What Can Western Brands Learn? 

Men’s Beauty Goes Big in Asia: What Can Western Brands Learn?

Since the term metro-sexuality was coined back in 1994, the men’s beauty market has been deemed a potential billion-dollar opportunity for brands. About 10-15 years ago in Europe specifically, there were enormous expectations placed on the male grooming market.

“For a long time, the market hasn’t really been delivering in accordance to those expectations, but this is really starting to shift now,” says Kathryn Sloane.

In 2016, the male grooming market, globally, was worth 21.4 billion dollars, which is expected to increase by 5 billion in the next 4 years. The US and the UK lead the world with new product launches that actively target men. However, Asia is where we are seeing the most amount of growth in the male grooming market.

But why are we seeing this growth in the first place?

The traditional stereotypes of men’s beauty are changing. In the US, man buns and craft beard oil are all the rage, while in Korea, K-pop culture is evolving the way men take care of themselves. Below are just a couple other trends we see changing the way men buy and use big B and little b grooming products.

Smile for the camera. Kathryn explains, worldwide, men are being photographed more than ever today – more than their parent’s whole lifetime in some cases! With this, there is no surprise the male grooming market is picking up speed with the increased interest of looking well kept in photos.

From the army to K-pop. Korean men are the world’s top per-capita consumers of skincare products with 1/5 of the world’s sales – using almost 13 products each! Some of the big B beauty growth has been attributed Korean military and K-pop culture. With the idolizes nature of K-pop culture and then going into the army and putting on thick camo-creams, now in Korea, 70% of military men use cosmetics, while the male grooming and cosmetics have become a socially encouraged practice.

Bollywood. Despite only recently developing, the male grooming category is booming in China – increasing 20% a year! As the middle class continues to grow, men equate men’s beauty care with sophistication and professionalism. While in India, Bollywood has helped skin-lightening products and lip balms become socially acceptable.

In Southeast Asia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Taiwan men are encountering the entire male grooming portfolio at once, rather than seeing some products as being manlier than others. With more spending money, men are looking to add more individuality to their look and are open to using a wider variety of cosmetic products like BB creams, lip balm, and foundation.

Read more about men’s grooming gadget trends: 5 Men’s Beauty Gadget Trends (and What They Mean for Brands)

 Few brands have built their products to respond to needs across both big B and little b male beauty profiles, so the opportunity to straddle both is something brands can achieve by:

  • Reimagining traditions
  • Disrupting the fixed routine
  • Tapping into cultural confidence
  • Addressing the fear factor
  • Engaging from the shelf, out

By providing beauty (looking good) and health (feeling good) products in one portfolio, brands can encapsulate both big B consumers and little b consumers. While the Asian market leads the world in embracing men’s beauty, Western men aren’t quite ready for foundation and lipstick, but they’re increasingly looking to flaunt their own individuality. Hold a mirror up to the East and visualize new opportunities for helping these men look their best.