Retail in Asia

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In South Korea, skin care cosmetics for men are big business

South Korea has become famous in recent years for skin-care products for women, which incorporate everything from regenerating snail mucus to animal placenta. Now young – and some not so young – men are also buying into the beauty obsession that has swept this land, boosting the nation’s already booming cheap cosmetics business.

As the women’s market has become saturated, beauty companies have been stepping up their marketing to men. It’s a huge prospect in South Korea – and increasingly in other parts of Asia, thanks to the phenomenal popularity of Korean dramas and music – where the masculine ideal of beauty might be described as "metrosexual" in the West.

More than 10 percent – or US$1.5 billion – of domestic beauty-product sales are now coming from products for men. The men’s market has been growing at about 9 percent each year for the past four years, said Kang Jae-joon, head of equity research in Korea at the investment manager Franklin Templeton.