Internet retail could open up male skin care market in China

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Skin care, Gender

Online retail could be the key to success for companies trying to tap in to the male skin care market in China.

The segment has suffered from traditional Chinese ideas of masculinity which leave little room for beauty products and complex skin regimes.

However, this is beginning to change, according to market research company Ifop Asia, and internet blogs, chat rooms and retailing sites could help.

According to the researcher's report, the growth of the segment in 2009 is likely to be nearly three times that of the skin care market as a whole – 26 percent in comparison to the 10 percent growth that the skincare market is predicted to enjoy.

By 2010 the male market for skin care will be worth RMB 4bn ($586m), 5 percent of the total skin care market, it predicts.

Being conscious of one’s appearance and the desire to look good is beginning to grow among Chinese males, according to Ifop Asia.

A good appearance is increasingly being seen as a way to help attain the lifestyle and values that make up part of the image of the perfect man, such as being successful in the workplace and being attractive to women.

However, being overtly sexually appealing goes against the trustworthy, reliable and modest ideas of masculinity, and skincare is still seen by the majority of the male population as a slightly feminine pursuit.

Internet opportunities ‘huge’

This is where the internet can help, according to the company.

Men who are unwilling to shop for skin care at beauty counters and in department stores for fear of appearing feminine are increasingly turning to the internet.

In addition, internet forums where men can share information and advice about skin care are becoming more popular.

“Men are more open to sharing comments online than in the real world,”​ the report said.

Ifop Asia suggests companies wishing to make inroads into the Chinese male market should focus on conveying responsible, powerful and masculine values with their brands and to avoid over claiming sex appeal and femininity.

In addition, it advises simplifying the shopping experience in stores to avoid the embarrassment factor of a feminine image as well as embracing online retailing.

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