Next Blue Ocean: The Male Grooming Industry

Source: Shu Uemura Weibo Official Account, Wang Yibo as brand ambassador

Under the confinement period in China, as per report by Kantar, beauty sales have dropped by 13% year-on-year in January and February, yet online channels saw a 7% growth. In particular, Tmall saw an 41% growth in cosmetics sales from same period last year. To some extent, it is fair to say that the beauty industry did not suffer much as other industries did since the outbreak of COVID-19.

One thing worth noting is that, the male grooming market, though not as often noticed as the female beauty market, is booming in China. As young male actors and singers are gaining more popularity with the title of “Little Fresh Meat” and male beauty bloggers are emerging, more and more Chinese men have started to understand the necessity of daily skincare and even makeup.

The male beauty market is taking off

According to the “2019 Men’s Skin Care Consumption Trend Report” released by CBNData and Tmall Beauty, 88% of the 2000 male respondents think skincare is an essential step as daily routine, and 75% will spend 5 to 20 minutes on skincare. Among the major consumers in the male grooming market, the post-90s account for 60%, and the post-95s are showing even greater consumption power and growth potential, among which 63% have developed the habit of using skincare products before the age of 18.

Source: L’Oréal

Men’s needs for grooming products are mostly similar: they want neat packaging but clear descriptions, products with effectiveness and simple procedures. More and more beauty and skincare brands have noticed these emerging signals and begun to develop such product lines for male consumers.

One step further into gender-inclusive products

Compared to the female beauty market, where products have rich categories and diversified functions, the development of the male grooming market appears to be relatively inadequate – except for the aftershave, facial cleanser and other products that men specifically need, which limited male consumers’ choices in male-dedicated brands and categories.

 “2019 Men’s Skin Care Consumption Trend Report” pointed out that 48% of male consumers have used neutral or female-dedicated brands; 41% of them prefer to buy male-dedicated brands or product lines and have used neutral or female-dedicated brands. It can be interpreted that the male grooming industry still has room for further expansion, and great potential lies in products that emphasize gender inclusiveness.

Source: Chanel

Beauty and skincare brands are speeding up the launch of male grooming products. Chanel first launched the Boy de Chanel line two years ago. In August this year, Chanel further enriched this series by launching male-dedicated makeup products, including concealer, foundation, eyeliner and nail polish with black and white colors.

Chanel is making a steady move, which might also be considered as proactive, to deploy more male makeup products that were not accepted by men in the traditional sense. However, just like the fashion industry, gender-inclusive products are a new trend that can win the hearts of the younger generation.

The data shown in the “2019 Male Skin Care Consumption Trend Report” reflects that the new trend is shifting the market landscape – neutral and gender-inclusive brands are expected to gain a larger share in the future beauty market. Though genderless beauty products are still niche, and not all consumers are well informed about this product category, the fact that Chinese male consumers are evolving to be more digital-savvy to access information and more sensitive to self-care remains a positive signal, entailing emerging opportunities for the male grooming industry.