Largest Market for Men’s Skin Care in the World: South Korea!

Posted on September 23, 2012


The rise of men’s grooming is taking over the cosmetic industry. Aside from the immense sales growth of men’s skin care products seen over the past 5 years that any Fortune 500 company would die for, the increase in the opening of men’s-only skincare retail storefronts world-wide and the rise of male celebrities being used as spokesmodels for the latest youth elixir point to just that.

Now where do you think the biggest market for men’s skin care is around the world? Nope … it is not the USA. And not suprisingly, it is South Korea. Just like their female counterparts, South Korean males now don all the latest skin care innovations they can get their hands on, from inexpensive spray refreshing misters to luxury anti-aging stem cell skin care products. According to global market research firm Euromonitor International, South Korean men spent $495.5 million on skincare products in 2011. That accounts for 21% of all GLOBAL SALES! And with just only 19 million men in South Korea compared to over 100 milion men in the USA that makes this figure even more astounding. Analysts estimate that men’s skin care sales in South Korea can easily top $800+ million so the market is still growing at an astronomical rate.

Korean Celebrity – Jang Guen Suk

Now the question is why do South Korean men love to take care of their skin? Pre-1990s, the ideal South Korean male was rough and tough … one that wore a wife-beater tank top with cigarette in mouth. Don’t ask me how the trend changed, but effeminate male beauty is now a marker of Korean social success. South Korean men get bombarded daily with messages from popular media that imply flawless skin is key to attracting a romance as well as scoring big in your career. And in Korean society now, first impressions are very crucial and having great skin is now part of upholding that “god … I have to date him” first impression!

Did you also know that almost every South Korean male carries their own personal grooming kit with them? The percentage is so high that if I were on the streets of Seoul, I would easily bet a benjamin that any 20-something working male had some kind of male grooming kit with them. Now man bags with a purpose!

And just like the popular use of skin care products, South Korean men use makeup too. To us living in the USA, you would think no straight man here would be caught dead applying mascara and lip gloss at their local Starbucks. However that is not the case over there. In the hippest crowded cafes in Seoul, you’ll often see a stylish young girl apply lipstick after drinking her $20 latte and then nonchalantly apply it to her male companion’s lips. Korean Airlines even holds an annual class for male flight attendants on how to properly apply make-up.

Now I wonder which South Korean men’s skin care brand of 2012 is the best? I do not know the answer to this as I have yet to try a male-specific product line from the land of Gangnam Style. Psy sure has great looking flawless skin. Whatever he is using, I should be too!