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Men's Beauty

November 19, 2023

A trending and growing category in the past few years has been men’s beauty. It goes beyond the “traditional” men’s category of grooming which mostly included shaving, shampoo and soap. Admittedly, this is an area that I’m not particularly familiar with. My wife has bought me cleansers and face creams in fancy packaging that still sit in their original boxes. I didn’t grow up using these things so they haven’t become part of my routine.  

For Gen Z however, access and knowledge, by way of TikTok and Instagram, have made products such as facial serums and masks more accessible. This generation also values self-care, a category to which grooming and paying attention to one’s appearance play a part. The trend began in Asia, particularly in South Korea, no doubt influenced by the popularity of K-Pop bands. Korea has been a standard for innovation and imitation in women’s beauty for years (Sephora has a whole K-Beauty category), so it’s understandable that it has been a leader in the men’s category as well. Household name-brands, such as L’Oreal, as well as niche players are embracing the men’s beauty category as a huge, relatively untapped market with lots of growth potential (see chart below). 

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Though men’s beauty is a big trend, it is one with a significant generation gap. A recent Ipsos study showed that 73% of respondents over the age of 51 would not consider using a cosmetics product (e.g. concealer, bronzer), whereas it was half that amount (37%) for men 18-34. For the older men, the most cited-reason for the hesitation was that cosmetics were for women. In contrast, younger men have grown up with cosmetics targeted to them. Even Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees was recently promoting an undereye concealer for the Hims brand. 

This multi-billion dollar trend is a boon for consumer brands. While some companies are working on their own “for men” branded lines (like L’Oreal as previously mentioned), some are partnering with new players that may not carry the “for women” stigma. Esteé Lauder recently acquired a 76% stake in Deciem, maker of the popular, gender-neutral skincare and cosmetics brand The Ordinary.

Somar will be watching this relatively new and growing market both from an investment perspective, and perhaps for some of our analysts, a user perspective. I may even try that alpha hydroxy acid face wash that’s been gathering dust in my cabinet.

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