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Gen Z Leads the Way: The Rise of Male Beauty in a New Era

In an age where global beauty standards are constantly evolving, the male beauty market is emerging at an unprecedented rate. With projections suggesting a valuation of $81.2 billion by 2024, according to Statista, it's clear that the traditional notions of masculinity are undergoing a transformation. But who's championing this shift, and how can brands effectively navigate this new landscape?

Who's Buying Into Male Beauty?

Contrary to what one might assume, it's not just men spearheading the beauty craze. According to Chinese lifestyle research company, Xiaohongshu, a whopping 65% of searches related to men's beauty products are initiated by women. Often, female family members play pivotal roles in influencing purchase decisions for older consumers. Yet, the younger Gen Z crowd tends to chart their own course, with many preferring to make their own beauty decisions.

Bank HSBC's identification of the "young urban male professional" offers an insight into this new breed of consumers who spare no expense on their appearance, fitness, and grooming. As global markets evolve, brands must be prepared to engage this demographic effectively.

Global Hotspots for Male Beauty

South Korea is unequivocally leading the male beauty renaissance. Citing a 2018 Global Data report, a remarkable 75% of South Korean men undergo beauty treatments at least weekly, with Gen Z showing an even higher inclination. Furthermore, driven by the appeal of "pretty boys" from K-pop bands and dramas, the 'boyish good look' is taking the world by storm. Recognizing this, Chanel Korea introduced its first makeup line for men, with influencer Park Daehwan at the forefront, advocating for the natural makeup look.

China, with its rapidly evolving consumer base, is also making waves in the sector. Xiaohongshu reported a 167% surge in "men's beauty" searches within two months. And platforms are replete with influencers like @你的男友 showcasing their grooming routines, driving a forecasted surge to a staggering $10 billion in China's male skincare market this year.

An analysis by The Independent highlights other prominent markets, including Brazil, the U.S., Germany, India, and the U.K. However, it's worth noting that while male beauty is on an upward trend in the U.K., British men are comparatively more reserved about self-care, as evidenced by research from Kantar.

The Call for Education and Gender Fluidity

One of the central tenets of this burgeoning market is education. Brands must actively educate men about the importance and benefits of skincare and beauty routines. With male beauty being a relatively nascent sector, consumers often find themselves turning to Google or beauty bloggers for advice, as suggested by Mintel's findings.

This era is also witnessing an unprecedented embrace of gender fluidity. An insightful study by Bigeye revealed that half of Gen Z perceives traditional gender roles and binary labels as archaic. Influencer marketing platform, Traackr, has seen a surge in gender-less beauty posts, signaling a shift towards a more inclusive beauty narrative.

Charting the Future of Male Beauty Marketing

Brands diving into this market should be cognizant of the evolving consumer landscape. Men, particularly of the younger generation, are results-oriented, valuing the transformative potential of cosmetics and skincare.

While Gen Z is comfortably embracing cosmetics across the spectrum, older generations show a predilection for online shopping from traditional male-centric brands. It’s a clear indication that brand strategies need to be tailored to cater to these distinct preferences.

One promising avenue is the subscription model, which can introduce consumers to a range of products they might not have considered otherwise.

In essence, the male beauty market is not just a fleeting trend but a paradigm shift in societal perceptions and consumer behavior. Brands that align their strategies with this changing narrative are poised to reap the rewards in this dynamic and rapidly expanding sector. Sources: Statista, Xiaohongshu, HSBC, Global Data, Chanel Korea, The Independent, Kantar, Mintel, Bigeye, and Traackr.


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