Male beauty is one of China’s fastest-growing consumer product markets, and the growth of male beauty product purchasers has surpassed women. From 2016-2019, the Chinese male beauty market increased at an average annual rate of 13.5% (global average was 5.8%). It was valued at $1.9 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow around 50%, reaching $2.8 billion by 2025.
Thanks to the rise of beauty culture and shifting gender roles, young Chinese consumers have manifested an increased acceptance of skincare and makeup use. More men pursue elegance and use skin care to enhance their beauty. According to CBNData (in Chinese), male beauty products top consumers are men born in the 90/95s, who have developed skincare routines during college or even before (nearly 80%).
Enhancing charm has become the main driving force for men’s skin care. In recent years, men’s skin care awareness has gradually increased. According to data released from Tmall Beauty, 88% of men believe that skin care should be treated as daily care. Basic cleansing and facial creams are the main consumption categories for men. Nonetheless, the rapid growth of high-end categories such as toners, eye creams, and body care are driving the consumption trend of the overall male-specific skin care market.
Different generations, different preferences
Different generations of skin care products have different preferences. Among them, the post-80s/85s prefer more refined eye masks, facial essences and aftershave lotions; the post-90s apply facial masks and daily sunscreen, and the post-95s pay more attention to basic cleansing.
The rise of China’ small cities
Since small towns have limited purchase channels for skin care products, so small-town men are more inclined to shop online. Tier 4 and below cities are the second largest market for male skin care, and the number of consumers as well as the amount of consumption are growing faster than other cities.
Male influencers numbers have grown too. They now account for more than 30% of the total number. With younger people as drivers of the sector’s rapid growth, local brands turned to Gen-Z platforms, especially Douyin and Xiaohongshu (aka Little Red Book), in search for content seeding opportunities.
This was not a casual choice. Both platforms, in fact, have a strong base of KOCs (key opinion consumers) and beauty influencers. Partnering with local brands, male influencers are sharing their beauty routines and expertise on content-sharing platforms, where beauty has become one of the most popular livestreaming categories among male consumers. Therefore, young male consumers are embracing the idea of wearing makeup: the rate of men learning how to apply cosmetics is growing twice as fast as women in China.
What are the main factors that make the difference during the male decision-making process?
- Multifunctional beauty products: products offering two or more benefits for the skin at the same time.
- The ingredient list in products: videos of beauty experts and KOCs analyzing the composition of the skincare products are going viral.
Healthy and transparent formulas are the keywords to success.
Despite China’s growing acceptance of male beauty, to win in this dynamic market, beauty brands may still need to be careful when choosing products or marketing messages to target their audience. Opportunities for overseas brands may lie in their collaborations with industry livestreamers to stay up to date with user insights, industry trends, and establish long-term relationships with Chinese consumers.
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