How China redefines Men Beauty Standards

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There is no denying that the male beauty industry is growing fast, especially in Asia Pacific, enjoying the fastest growth in the world. In China, Euromonitor expects the male beauty market to increase by 13.5% in 2019, more than double of worldwide forecasted growth rate (5.8%).

A market fueled by influencer-led promotion of male beauty

Chinese KOL Ryan 毛小星 promoting Kiehl’s on his Weibo account. Photo credit: Ryan毛小星

In China, “Xiao Xian Rou” or “Little Fresh Meat”, referring to flawless, young and handsome men, has become a popular phenomenon, that brands are smartly leveraging.

It started when some “Xiao Xian Rou” began to shed light on the composition of beauty products and analyze them through a scientific approach. They quickly gained notoriety by earning the trust of female audience. That is why, they are increasingly hired by brands to appeal to their female consumers. Early 2018, luxury brand Chopard signed up young Chinese singer Wang Yuan, member of extremely popular TFBoys, as its brand ambassador. The post announcing it on Weibo achieved 10+ million interactions on the platform, making it one of the most popular luxury brand post on Weibo of the year.

Chopard announced TFBoys member Roy Wang to be brand ambassador on Weibo
Chopard announced on Weibo TFBoys member Roy Wang to be its new brand ambassador. Photo credit: Chopard Weibo account

Today however, they are also endorsing male-targeted beauty brands and inspire men to be more confident about their look. It is becoming the new beauty standard for Chinese men, driving Chinese male beauty market to become soon the most lucrative in the world.

Rise of color cosmetics category

Personal hygiene was the first type of grooming products generally used by Chinese men, but skincare has been growing very fast the last few years. Demand has grown from just a facial cleanser to more sophisticated products such as masks, sun-blocks, lotion, whitening and moisturizing creams.

Recently, the color cosmetics segment has been emerging rapidly. According to the report “De-gendered Consumption: China’s Gender Trends Report” released by online retailers and in 2018, the sales volume of male beauty products has almost doubled year-on-year, between 2015 and 2017, with products such as face masks, BB creams, lipsticks and brow products rising as top sales. Data released beginning of 2019 by Alibaba shows that two products are standing out: lipstick for men and eyebrow pen for men, whose sales respectively rose by 278% and 214% on Tmall between 2017 and 2018.

We all have in mind the launch of Boy de Chanel last year in South Korea, the first makeup line for men of the French luxury group. In China, L’Oreal China recently announced a partnership with Alibaba’s Tmall Innovation Center to leverage the platform’s consumer data and create new male beauty products and experience. Both international and local brands are quickly investing to tap into this market. And this phenomenon is leading to the next trend in Asia: watch out for unisex beauty.