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South Korea: Largest Market for Men's Skin Care Globally

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Sales of men’s skin care in South Korea was US$565 million in 2012. This represented nearly 21% of global sales of men’s skin care, placing South Korea as the biggest market for men’s skin care globally. China is expected to overtake South Korea as the biggest market globally for men’s skin care sales from 2013. In terms of per capita spending however, South Korea will remain at the top over the 2012-17 period with Korean males spending more than double of their counterparts in Denmark – the country ranking second highest where per capita spending on men’s skin care is concerned.

Men are increasingly image-conscious globally. It is becoming increasingly acceptable for men to care about their looks – vanity is no longer women’s prerogative and has not been so for a while now. Manufacturers are recognising this need as well as driving it through providing products targeted at men. One of the latest global brands to jump onto the men’s skin care bandwagon is SK II with its SK II Men range of products launched in 2012. In South Korea, male-specific skin care brands include Hera Homme, O Hui for Men, Vonin, Odyssey as well as The Face Shop for Men, Missha for Men and so on. Endorsement of skin care brands by South Korean male celebrities is also not uncommon and has helped to drive the trend of male grooming in South Korea. With the spread of K-pop culture across the globe, especially following Korean singer Psy’s runaway Gangnam Style hit, Korean brands’ presence worldwide has also increased. A consistent marketing message, including the same male Korean celebrities, is typically adopted for most of these Korean brands in their international locations with local celebrities being roped in as well to promote the brands. This has resulted in a very visible male endorsement of skin care products and relatedly, a reinforcement of the message that it is ok for men to use skin care products and even cosmetics.
Retailers have also made efforts to contribute to and further drive the growth of men’s skin care sales. In South Korea, Amore Pacific launched Manstudio in 2011, a one-stop shop to meet South Korean men’s grooming needs. The shop carries Amore Pacific’s brands ranging from Laneige Homme to Hera Homme and also provides personalised consultations and services. In Singapore, WhatHeWants is a retail concept targeting men. It not only carries only male-specific brands and products but also has brands that are not commonly found in mainstream retail channels. These retail concepts not only target men in terms of the product offering but also provide an environment that makes it more comfortable for men to shop for skin care products without feeling self-conscious. Singapore also witnessed two of the world’s firsts pertaining to men’s grooming. July 2012 saw the opening of a flagship store for Lab Series, an established global men’s grooming brand, in upmarket shopping mall Ion Orchard. Biotherm Homme followed suit in 2013, opening its first standalone men’s store also in Ion Orchard.

Skin care products for men have also evolved beyond the simple cleanse, tone and moisturise regime. Serums for men are available, alongside the popular BB cream and sheet facial masks. For example, Lab Series Skincare for Men’s Power Brightening Serum +DR4 is a serum that promises to lighten dark spots and colourations to create an even skin tone. The Face Shop for Men has sheet masks such as the Neo Classic Homme White Surge Mask and the Neo Classic Homme Ener-Surge Mask with the former promoting clearer skin tone and the latter addressing tired-looking skin. BB cream products for men are offered by most major Korean brands – both mass and premium – as well as global brands such as Biotherm Homme.

A further case in point is the availability of ‘camo cream’ products by Korean brands such as Innisfree and The Face Shop. ‘Camo cream’ or camouflage cream is essentially a version of the standard military-issued face paint that offers more moisture and sun protection for Korean male soldiers’ skin. Sales of these products have been good, according to trade sources. Even soldiers are not averse to taking care of themselves whilst protecting their country!

The focus on men may also be seen as a strategy to increase the consumer base beyond just women who make up the traditional consumer base for beauty and personal care manufacturers. Over the years, beauty and personal care manufacturers have increasingly targeted babies, children, tweens and so on through further segmenting the consumer base. Men form a sizable portion of the consumer base. According to Euromonitor International’s Countries & Consumers research, globally, males make up 50% of the population in 2012. Drilling down further, males aged 20-39 account for nearly 16% of the world’s population in 2012. Efforts to derive sales from men are therefore not expected to dwindle over the coming years.

The latest trend on the male grooming front includes a resurgence of salons providing grooming services for men. For example, in Singapore, we see the debut of shops such as We Need a Hero (www.weneedahero.sg) which offers services ranging from haircuts, shaving, brow shaping as well as waxing for men only. Barbershops are also seeing a revival, albeit in a modernised format. Truefitt and Hill, the world’s oldest barbershop based in the UK, opened its doors in Singapore in March 2013 and offers services ranging from haircuts and shaving to massages and manicure/pedicure services. Such developments are expected to further drive growth of men’s grooming in the region and globally.

Based on Euromonitor International’s latest research on Beauty and Personal Care across 80 markets globally, the prospects for men’s grooming remain bright in the next five years. Men’s skin care, in particular, is expected to post a constant value CAGR of 7% globally for the 2012-17 period. Region-wise, Asia Pacific is expected to continue to lead this growth, posting a constant value CAGR of nearly 10%, despite being the region generating the highest men’s skin care sales globally. The fastest growing men’s skin care markets are projected to be India, Indonesia and China, given the underdeveloped nature of the category in these markets.

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