Form over function: Are more male consumers embracing the aesthetic appeal of make-up?

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Are men adopting make-up as an aesthetic choice? ©FIVEISM x THREE
Are men adopting make-up as an aesthetic choice? ©FIVEISM x THREE

Related tags men's grooming Asia trends

Male-centric J-beauty brand FIVEISM x THREE expects to see more men adopting make-up as an aesthetic choice, rather than a practical one.

FIVEISM x THREE was launched in September 2018 by Pola Orbis Holdings subsidiary ACRO Inc, which also manages the popular J-beauty brand THREE.

When it launched, ACRO claimed that the brand was the most comprehensive men's make-up brand on the market and was the first to launch with a full range of men’s colour cosmetic products.

Since then, FIVEISM x THREE has expanded its retail footprint across Japan department stores and cosmetic boutiques and entered the travel retail market.

Since the launch of the brand, the business has expanded steadily. Although we had a tough time in the first-half due to the influence of COVID-19, we are expecting further expansion of the market as there are more opportunities to be had,” ​said Yuko Sakaguchi, senior marketing manager, FIVIESM x THREE.

Sakaguchi attributed the growth of the business to the increasing number of make-up users among men, a trend that Mintel has also observed in the APAC markets.

“North Asian markets such as Japan, South Korea, and China have taken another route of soft masculinity, embracing the femininity elements and delicate mannerism within, hence driving the growth of skin care as well as colour cosmetics,” ​said Sharon Kwek, Mintel associate director, South East Asia beauty and personal care.

She noted that the increasing interest in colour cosmetics was evident in the younger demographic, which utilise make-up to further enhance their appearances.

“The usage of cosmetics among younger men today challenges the masculinity conversation the industry has always been looking to address and redefine, and men today view that as an extended form of self-grooming. For instance, concealers are used to cover targeted flaws on their faces so that they look and feel good and present the best versions of themselves.”

With new behaviours such as increasing participation of video calls and conferences, FIVEISM x THREE expects to see demand for make-up continue to increase as men are becoming more conscious of their looks.

Cosmetic allure

However, Sakaguchi believes men are beginning to appreciate and enjoy make-up the same way women do, instead of looking at it as a problem-solving tool.

“Cosmetics are no longer just a women’s category but a manifestation of aesthetic sense and values regardless of gender.The number of men who enjoy make-up more actively is increasing, especially among Generation Z.”

This shift would see more adoption of products such as eyeshadow, lipstick, mascara and nail polish, products which the brand already carries.

FIVEISM x THREE defines its core consumer base as men who are “interested in new values, have a high sense of fashion, and are sensitive to trends”.

Aside from its home market, FIVEISM x THREE sees the most potential in Asian markets such as China, Korea, Thailand.

“South Korea and Thailand have a higher sense of aesthetics than other countries which is why the make-up culture has penetrated. In China, a similar situation has been seen in recent years, and the market is expanding as a number. It’s said to be the world's second largest men's cosmetics market after South Korea. We have great expectations that the men's beauty market will continue to grow.”

According to Mintel, Thailand is market to follow for the development of male beauty moving forward.

Its research has showed that men aged 25 to 34 in particular are a key target for colour cosmetics, with 32% having bought foundation in the last 12 months and over a third having bought lip make-up.

“More brands in Asia are seeing growth potential in the still very niche but growing men's makeup market, especially within the facial colour cosmetics segment. That will drive the growth of male beauty market forward,” ​said Kwek.

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