With men's skin care trend, brands put on a happy face

Updated: 2011-08-22 10:17

By Li Woke (China Daily)

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With men's skin care trend, brands put on a happy face

A man receives a facial mask and skin care service at a beauty salon in Xi'an, capital city of Northwest China's Shaanxi province. [Photo / China Daily] 

BEIJING - Turn on your TV set and take a look at Chinese commercials and you will see a number of male movie stars, such as Jackie Chan, Daniel Wu and Takeshi Kaneshiro, are becoming spokesmen for skin care products.

"I wear Clinique moisturizing lotion every day after washing my face with L'Oreal washing cream," said Kelvin Li, a 35-year-old human resources manager in Beijing. He said he started to using the products about five years ago, influenced by his girlfriend. "She always told me what to do to make my skin look better."

"I care about my skin and appearance, so I use toner and moisturizer daily, and sometimes essence. I put on sun cream during the summer and use a face scrub once a month," said a 27-year-old art designer who gave only his surname, Guo.

Guo is one of the customers targeted by international cosmetic labels, including Lancome, Clinique, Shiseido and Dior, that started to launch men's skin care lines in China several years ago to increase profits in the growing market.

Data from Euromonitor International, a market research and analysis agency, showed that the Chinese skin care market will see 11.5 percent growth in 2012, while the men's skin care market will surge by 24.4 percent next year. Sales of men's health and beauty merchandise in China will overtake North America's numbers this year and probably grow five times faster each year until 2014.

"Out of the thousands of beauty products available, very few are geared specifically toward men. Men have unique skin care needs but have far fewer choices in products than women do," said Lily, a L'Oreal saleswoman, who would give only her first name. "Given the national and personal economic growth, Chinese men are now more concerned about their skin and appearance."

"I spend around 400 yuan ($63) on cosmetics every month. Although that's a small part of my monthly spending, the 'face' issue is very important in Chinese culture," said Li as he poked his face.

The men's skin care market in China may reach $269.6 million this year, compared with $227.4 million for North America, according to Euromonitor International. It forecast 29 percent annual growth from last year to 2014, compared with 5.7 percent for North America and 7.9 percent for Europe.

Sales of men's skin care merchandise, at about 1 percent of the total beauty and health care market in China, are growing at more than double the pace of women's, according to estimates by Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia (CLSA), a Hong Kong-based brokerage and investment group.

Other data put the annual per capita spending on beauty and cosmetic products in China at only five euros ($7.19), while the figure in France is 130 euros, showing that China has huge potential to develop in the sector.

Because of the promising market in men's skin care, L'Oreal, Giorgio Armani and Biotherm launched "enclosure movements" in China early on, while other brands such as UNO and Vichy squeezed in later.

Meanwhile, in addition to the daily cleansing and moisturizing products, many brands also introduced a number of lines with whitening or anti-aging purposes.

"I noticed that men hesitate to buy or use products with names that are too girly," said Lily, "I have to work very hard to convince them that these products are for men only."

Regarding to the Chinese men's shyness and concern at being thought feminine, gf is better at the marketing strategies. The Chinese cosmetic brand puts lots of energy into building a customer club and providing follow-up services. From the first purchase, gf records each member's personal information and needs. Then it invites members to various events from time to time, based on their personal preferences. With these membership events, gf is killing two birds with one stone: making money and saving Chinese men's "faces".

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