“It’s amazing! This cologne makes men smell like sunshine!” a male beauty blogger exclaimed as he livestreamed a male grooming routine.
Before spraying the perfume, he applied moisturizer on his face and dotted concealer on his pimples. Finally, he used hair gel to make a “perfect hairstyle.”
This type of livestreaming, unheard of in China until very recently, is now common on Chinese social media platforms.
Using male grooming products was somewhat of a taboo for men in China, but the younger generation is more accepting of skin and body care products and even fragrances.
“Using facial skincare products is part of my daily routine. If there’s a party, I like wearing cologne,” a 20-something college student surnamed Luo told the Global Times.
“Chinese men’s attitudes toward their appearance have changed dramatically. My father’s generation almost never used skin care products. A small bottle of cream, like domestic brand DaBao that is worth no more than 10 yuan ($1.45), was a luxury for them in the past,” he said.
“But now we have more choices. I think caring about your appearance shows regard for others as well as enthusiasm for life,” Luo said.
Chinese men are much more likely to invest in their appearance now, often buying products from e-commerce platforms that in the past might have been seen as just the preserve of women.
According to a report Alibaba Group Holding sent to the Global Times on Thursday, more men are buying beauty products, including lipsticks, eyebrow pencils, sunscreen, facial masks and other cosmetics on the company’s Tmall platform.
In 2018, sales of skincare products tailored for men such as cleansers, facial masks, cosmetics and lotions and creams increased 51 percent, 58 percent, 89 percent and 114 percent on Tmall, the report said.
And there is increased interest from both domestic and foreign firms in catering to specific segments of this burgeoning market.
Armani launched a men’s skincare line in the US in June and is set to enter the Chinese market in 2020, media reports said.
In September 2018, L’Oreal China said it would partner with Tmall’s research and development arm to create male beauty products specifically for the China market.
They have divided men into five distinct personality types: Fans of Professionality, Yappies, Beautiful Faces, Hair Styling Lovers and Traditional Men.
These precise big-data based consumer insights show that China’s men’s grooming market is entering a stage of segmentation.
“More and more male consumers are not limiting their grooming habits to basic facial care, but have begun to look forward to more refined, professional and high-end products,” L’Oreal China said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Thursday.
Men’s grooming is also expected to be the most dynamic growth category in the cosmetics market, it noted.
There is a Chinese saying that “a girl will doll herself up for someone who loves her.” And now it can be said that “a man will make himself up for someone who loves him.”
Beauty products are no longer just for women in the traditional sense, but have gradually become an important way for men to gain self-confidence and express themselves.
Yet it is women that have become a driving force in the growth of men’s products as they are likely to buy grooming and cosmetics products for their boyfriends or husbands.
According to a report released by Tmall, about 20 percent of men’s cosmetics products were bought by women, 50 percent of whom are aged below 30.
“Many people related men wearing cosmetics to being sissy in the past, but this type of thinking is outdated,” a teacher surnamed Cai in Changsha, capital of Central China’s Hunan Province, told the Global Times on Friday.
“I bought lotion and cologne for my husband, hoping he has good skin care to look young,” she said. “Cologne may help him maintain a good image in public in summer.”
Cai said there was no question of it affecting a man’s sense of masculinity.
“Men’s adoption of beauty products will not affect one’s masculinity, because feeling confident is what matters,” she said.
“Right now, Chinese society is showing more inclusive aesthetic standards and people are more tolerant of men wearing cosmetics. Young Generation Z consumers are especially willing to try various styles of beauty [products],” said Chen Min, CEO of Donger Media.
Chen told the Global Times on Thursday that the underlying factor driving the trend is that subcultures in Chinese society have brought changes to the way that people express themselves and show their identities.
Male cyber celebrities, such as Li Jiaqi, who livestreams reviews of lipsticks on Alibaba’s Taobao platform, attract plenty of young followers, which helped the market to flourish, Chen said.
Dubbed the “Lipstick King,” Li once sold 15,000 lipsticks in just 15 minutes, according to media reports.
The scale of the men’s grooming and cosmetics market in China was 31.1 billion yuan in 2016 and rose to 34 billion yuan in 2017, according to the latest information released by industry information website chinabaogao.com.
The global market is forecast to reached $78.6 billion by 2023 and the Chinese grooming and cosmetics market nurtures great growth potential, said a report by domestic news site eastmoney.com on July 1.
A 30-something Beijing-based white-collar worker who asked for anonymity, said he spent 5,000 to 7,000 yuan annually on grooming and cosmetics products.
“I use toner, cream, essence and eyecream and sunscreen in winter, but only toner and sunscreen in summer,” he said.
Chinese people are eager for a higher quality of life thanks to the current emphasis on promoting higher-quality consumption, which has changed spending. The rising grooming and cosmetics market and male spending power shows that the “he economy” is thriving in the Chinese market and will continue to do well in the near future, Chen said.
Big global brands are turning their attention to other luxury products for male consumers in China.
In May, Italian fashion house Fendi for the first time showed its men’s and women’s collections together in Shanghai.
Prada also took its Spring/Summer 2020 men’s fashion show to Shanghai in June. It was the first time Prada had staged its men’s show outside of Milan.
Luxury brands are more frequently showcasing their products for men in the Chinese market, industry insiders said. This indicates an increase in attention to the men’s market, as the range of products they offer has continued to expand.
This includes jewelry, cars, wines and electronic products geared toward male consumers.
“We’ve seen so many more male customers this year, and almost 60 percent of our daily revenue comes from them,” a salesperson at store selling smart sports bracelet in Beijing’s affluent Chaoyang district told the Global Times.
Consumer analysts agree that with the rise of the post-90s generation as a major source of consumption power in the country, the development of the “he economy” will see more rapid growth in the future.