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Male Cosmetics in China: Handsome Profits on Offer

  •   8 Jul 2019
  •    Ye Chen
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    In China, the “Post-examination economy” has become a small but important driver of growth in the cosmetics sector, particularly for male cosmetics. The term “post-examination economy” was coined to describe the phenomenon of huge numbers of students splashing out on shopping in the period immediately following the end of the China College Entrance Examination (CEE, usually held on 6th-7th June every year). In this year’s post examination period, Pinduoduo, one of the TOP3 E-commerce platforms in China, noticed an interesting phenomenon. Their data showed that male users accounted for 40% of beauty products sales, and the average spending per male customer was significantly higher than female users.

    A market with huge potential?

    In fact, Pinduoduo is not the only enterprise to highlight the rising fortunes of the male cosmetic sector in China and several high-quality internet reports have corroborated these findings. A 2018 Weibo (A social media platform in China, like Twitter) Makeup Industry White Book shows that growth in the number of males discussing cosmetics online was significantly higher than that of females, and was particularly pronounced amongst the post-90s and post-00s group.

    According to 2018 Cosmetic Industry Report released by 360 Marketing Research Institute, the mobile traffic for men’s cosmetics experienced a rapid increase, growing by 194.7%. A 2019 Makeup User Insight Report released by Toutiao (Another Top information content platform in China) shows that the number of male users following cosmetic content increased by 10% year-on-year in Q1 in 2019. With the development of Internet, education, and technology, people, especially men in China are more willing to accept new ideas, even the idea that altering and beautifying external appearance using cosmetics is not exclusively for women.

    Popular cosmetics among male consumers

    According to the reports listed above, there are two popular categories of cosmetics among male consumers, personal care products and make-up products.

    According to 2018 Cosmetic Industry Report, the search volume for male hair care products increased by 351.8% while skin care products increased by 11.5%. This is mainly because hair loss has become a more open issue for Chinese men.

    The top performing products in the make-up segment were eyebrow pencil, BB cream, and lipsticks. According to 2019 China Cosmetics E-commerce Industry Analysis and Consumer Behavior Comprehensive Investigation Report released by iiMedia Research, the growth rate of male make-up was 89.0%. The number of make-up products used by men continues to increase, the market is maturing, and demand is trending towards specialization and high-end. Here are the TOP3 male make-up products in 2018:

    Interesting findings were also revealed on analysis of data included in the 18-35-year-old men’s trend consumption report released by Taobao, the biggest E-commerce platform in China. The data from this report shows that 18-35-year-old men bought about 1.2 million units of BB cream and more than 350,000 eyebrow pencils in 2018 on Taobao. Men’s eyebrow pencil sales increased by 163% year-on-year. The Top3 cosmetics for men in this report are BB cream, eyebrow pencil, and lipsticks.

    Large Multinationals in China’s Male Cosmetic Segment

    Despite a much steeper growth trajectory than in the past, China’s male cosmetic and grooming segment has always offered a lot of potential. Lab Series from Estée Lauder, which was launched in China in 1987, is one of the earliest men only skincare brands. In addition to L’Oréal’s flagship male grooming range “L’Oréal men” the group have also cooperated with David Beckham to launch another male only cosmetic brand, House99, in 2018.

    Other brands are now accelerating their China market entry campaigns. In April last year, Kiehl’s, (another brand from L’Oréal) carried out a “massive” promotion campaign (its first major campaign since launching in china over 9 years ago) for its men’s skincare products. Domestic brands are getting in on the act too with Chando, a well-known Chinese brand also releasing male only products in May last year. In August last year, CHANEL created a new line of makeup for men, BOY DE CHANEL, focusing on foundations, eyebrow pencils and colorless lipsticks.

    Armani also decided to update its whole line of men’s skincare products. Its new product line launched in America in early June and hit both the Canadian and the European markets at the end of June and will be available in Asia in the second half of 2019 and will be officially launched in China in 2020.

    Armani Beauty also launched a poorly received men’s skin care line in 2008. Its main function is anti-aging and it is marketed as a high-end cosmetic. The price ranges from 450 yuan to 1500 yuan, however despite its positioning in the market, sales were less than stellar. For its new range of products Armani has taken a different approach, positioning itself as a midrange and affordable product. On the US official website, the products are priced between $30 and $65 (about 207 to 420 yuan). After the launch of the new men’s skincare line, Armani Beauty’s original high-end men’s skin care will be discontinued.

    Male Cosmetics in China Set for Continued Growth

    18-35-year-old men’s trend consumption report shows the turnover of male cosmetics increased by 38% year-on-year. Consumption of FMCG by China’s younger generation is fueling huge growth in the economy and is likely to continue if China’s economy continues to expand. These empowered younger consumers have grown up in an era of unprecedented prosperity when China’s economy increased at a rapid rate and are willing to pay money to ensure their personal image goals are realized. Compared to the established female cosmetics sector in China, the male cosmetics sector is still developing and will need time and investment to develop further.
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