Well-groomed men give beauty industry a new face
Growing competition has forced local retailers to expand their services as modern males embrace skin care, writes Carol Chan
WITH THE DOUBLE digit increase in the sale of men's skin-care products recorded by local retailers in recent years, the launch of more skin-care outlets will no doubt result in a jobs bonanza for keen sales professionals. It was only a few years ago that the idea of a man in a facemask was met with raised eyebrows, but those days are now long gone.
Today, men's skin care is big business, with entertainers clamouring to sign deals as spokesmen for new products in an industry which is enjoying a boom.
To promote its range of men's skin-care products, Biotherm Homme invited Asian film star Takeshi Kaneshiro to be the line's spokesman.
So far, Biotherm Homme has received a positive response from male customers and the product is flying off the shelves.
'Nowadays, clean and tidy looks are considered one of the basic criteria for being respectable,' said Kitty Yim, marketing manager of Biotherm Hong Kong.
Such a view is supported by Watsons, which also provides a wide range of men's skin-care products in its 170 stores.
Maria Norrman, the merchandise director of Watsons, said: 'Because information on men's grooming topics is now widely available, men have become more conscious about their appearance than ever and they are more willing to use different skin-care products.'
As a result of overwhelming feedback from male customers, Watsons recently opened a
3,000 sqft beauty and cosmetic outlet called Pure Beauty at Times Square in Causeway Bay, which provides more than 400 products for the modern man.
Watsons stresses that it is the first Asian 'masstige' cosmetic outlet, a marketing term formed from the phrase 'prestige for the masses'.
'It is definitely a growing segment of the beauty industry,' Ms Norrman said.
Interestingly enough, men's skin-care products are increasingly being targeted at women who are concerned with the appearance of their male partners.
During the World Cup, a survey conducted by Watsons revealed that oily skin, acne and dark circles around the eyes created a poor impression on women.
'We discovered that more than 30 per cent of our female customers will purchase grooming products for their fathers, husbands or boyfriends,' Ms Norrman said.
To attract more male clients, providing access to professional beauty consultants is an important strategy. 'All our beauty consultants are certified by Frederique Academy with in-store exercises and formal exams,' Ms Norrman said.
Kinder Yeung Kin-tat, the beauty consultant at Pure Beauty, said he used male skin-care products first to enable him to give good and knowledgeable advice to customers.
'I tell the clients what I feel after I use the products. It gives more confidence to the customers,' the 25-year-old consultant said.
He also said that men tended to be open-minded to skin-care products such as facial masks, and that they no longer felt shy when explaining their skin problems to consultants.
'All of our skin-care lines have testers and we give a lot of samples to customers so they can try the different products,' Ms Norrman said.
Keeping the skin-care steps simple is also important to promote male skin-care products.
Ms Yim from Biotherm said men were looking for much simpler skin-care steps than their female counterparts.
They also preferred a lighter texture.
'Men need more education on basic skin-care steps, while women need more in-depth service from our beauty adviser,' she said.
Local retailers are confident in the industry's growing popularity.
Margaret Leung, the president of Clarins, predicted that the industry would continue to gather steam.
'The market will grow in double digits per annum in the coming five to eight years.
'More brands will appear and they will get more competitive,' she said.
Ms Norrman from Watsons was equally confident.
'With a more comprehensive range of products to be introduced in 2006, we foresee a 40 per cent sales increase,' she said. Local skin-care product retailers said they would hire more staff, such as beauty consultants and skin therapists, to cope with the fast-growing industry.
Mence, which sells skin-care products as well as providing a skin-care and body toning service, said it would hire 100 staff to cope with a planned business expansion.
Mence Tsoi Man-sze, chief executive of Mence, said there were good monetary opportunities. 'The basic salary is about HK$5,000. However, the commissions can range from HK$10,000 to HK$30,000.'