Smells like success: Growth of men’s fragrance surpasses make-up and skin care in China

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Men’s fragrance category is leading the way in China, exceeding make-up and skin care in terms of annual and quarterly growth. [Getty Images]
Men’s fragrance category is leading the way in China, exceeding make-up and skin care in terms of annual and quarterly growth. [Getty Images]

Related tags: Fragrance, men's grooming, China

The men’s fragrance category is leading the way in China, exceeding make-up and skin care in terms of annual and quarterly growth, according to data from one market research company.

According to market research company NPD Group, China's prestige beauty market saws sales of $10.8bn from e-commerce alone in 2020.

This was in part driven by China’s three biggest e-commerce festivals: Women’s Day in March, the 618 campaign in June and Double 11 in November.

The same data showed that the men’s prestige grooming surpassed the growth rate of the women’s segment, growing 75% compared to the women’s 35%.

In the men’s category, skin care and fragrance products drove the growth, with skin care recording growth of 65%.

However, it was the fragrance category that was the big winner, growing a staggering 90% over the year.

According to NPD data, the momentum has continued in 2021. In the first quarter of the year, men’s fragrance grew by 117%, contributing to 61% of the total sales gain.

Top men’ fragrance brands that are dominating the market in this quarter are Chanel, Bulgari and Tom Ford.

Comparatively, men’s skin care sales, which still makes up the bulk of the entire male grooming market, grew by 46%.

Brands such as Biotherm, Chanel, and Bulgari were among the top men’s grooming brands in China in the quarter in terms of sales.

The category to watch

This data suggests the men’s fragrance market is the one to watch in the coming years, said Samuel Yan, e-commerce commercial lead, China, The NPD Group.

“With more effective marketing and advertising from fragrance brands, more male consumers have started to use fragrances. Fragrances are also regarded as a good gift during special holidays like Valentine’s Day. Also, there have been more male beauty influencers on social media promoting fragrances, which also helps to contribute to the growth,”​ explained Yan.

Mostly, purchases were made online more. Referring to NPD’s China Consumer Sentiment study conducted in April 2021, Tmall and JD.com were among the top e-commerce platforms preferred by male consumers when it came to purchasing beauty products.

Knowing this, Yan highlighted that it was important for brands to have a strong social media presence in China, especially since this is where it seems that most male consumers get their information from.

“In China, social media is very important, so the top-ranked men’s grooming brands are all active on social media platforms.”

Aside from social media platforms like WeChat and Douyin, sports apps and online gaming apps are among the most effective ways to reach male consumers.

Yan highlighted Beiersdorf’s efforts to promote the Nivea Men’s line among male consumers by working with Tencent and its hit mobile game, Honour of Kings.

Additionally, to attract male consumers, brands can also develop social media content around ingredient information, before and after comparisons as well as product trials.

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