In 2012 the estimated value of the men’s skin care market in the country was $565m, a figure that the market researcher estimates to represent around 21 per cent of the total global market.
Although China is expected to surpass this figure during the course of 2013, this does nothing to undermine the per capita spend, which is expected to remain the world’s highest during the period 2012 – 2017.
To put the figures into perspective, in Denmark, which as a higher per capita GDP to that of Korea, men spend approximately half as much on skin care as their South Korean counterparts, but Denmark still has the second highest spend on men’s skin care.
Euromonitor analyst Geok Leng, who is head of research for the group’s Asia Pacific division, points out that there are a number of home-grown male skin care brands in the country, which include Hera Homm, O Hui for men, Vonin and Odyssey.
Celebrity endorsements help boost market
These brands have a high market profile, and are often endorsed by South Korean celebrities, a phenomenon that has been underlined by the fact that global K-pop star Psy has a skin care range featuring his name and image.
“A consistent marketing message, including the same male Korean celebrities, is typically adopted for most of these Korean brands in their international locations with local celebrities being roped in as well to promote brands,” said Leng in his research notes.
“This has resulted in a very visible male endorsement of skin care products and relatedly, a reinforcement of the message that it is ok for men to use skin care products and even cosmetics."
Retailers have also played a significant part in the acceptance and uptake of male skin care, with Leng noting that Amore Pacific launching Manstudio back in 2011, a one-stop-shop entirely devoted to men’s grooming needs.
The stores carry male-specific brands, as well as a host of other brands found in mainstream retail outlets, a concept that makes it ‘very comfortable’ for men to buy their skin care products.
Growing product sophistication
Llikewise the type of products that are being offered to men in the country have also grown in both choice and sophistication, to include serums, BB creams and even facial masks.
Specific examples of more targeted and sometimes unique products include Lab Series Skincare for Men’s Power Brightening serum +DR34, which targets dark spots and promises to even the skin tone.
Likewise, a launch that made heads turn around the world recently has been the ‘Camo cream’ or camoflague cream from The Face Shop. This is a version of the stand issue South Korea military camoflague cream, but The Face Shop has customized it, to provide soldiers with the added properties of moisturisation and a sunscreen.
With the men’s grooming market growing fast in other markets across the globe, it is particularly interesting to see what is happening in South Korea as it is likely to act as a precursor to developments in other markets.