SHANGHAI – A Chinese beauty and wellness group is diversifying its portfolio by investing in a Japanese men’s skincare brand, a move that speaks to the growing importance of the Chinese men’s cosmetics market.
Ushopal on Tuesday announced an undisclosed amount of investment in Japanese company Bulk Homme at the 4th China International Import Expo, with the company becoming a major shareholder in the latter. The Chinese company is also injecting money into British skincare brand Argentum, with the aim of increasing its global influence.
“We review categories and brands at least two years in advance to assess market development and tailor them to our portfolio,” William Lau, partner at Ushopal, told Sixth Tone after the show. “Men’s skincare is an example where we started reviewing the category in 2017 and expected it to pick up again in 2020.”
A man visits the Usshopal booth at CIIE on November 9, 2021. Jiang Yaling / Sixth Tone
While some of the biggest beauty ambassadors in China, such as Li Jiaqi, promote “Made in China” cosmetics, Ushopal goes one step further by partnering with international brands and leaning on products from care for men. In 2020, the Chinese men’s cosmetics market reached 16.4 billion yuan ($ 2.6 billion) – an increase of about 6.6% year-over-year – and is expected to reach 18 billion. yuan in 2021, according to to the global data company Statista.
Meanwhile, Chinese men on average used more than two types of facial care products last year, more than in 2017, according to at market research firm Mintel.
As social perceptions of the traditional definition of masculinity gradually evolve, more and more men, including male celebrities, have embraced skin care and makeup products – once used primarily by women – in their daily regimen. However, they have often been mocked and labeled as “sissies” by trolls, while broadcasting regulators nationwide crack down on artists with “bad aesthetics.”
Lau declined to comment on whether such bans and intolerances towards men with makeup would affect the market for men’s cosmetics.
Founded in Shanghai in 2017, Ushopal specializes in introducing niche luxury brands to China. Its portfolio currently includes more than a dozen brands, including French perfume brand Juliette has a Gun and Natura Bissé from Spain.
Lau said Bulk Homme’s target consumers are the “new generation of luxury male consumers looking to improve their limited options.” He added that the current market in China for male consumers is similar to the growth of women’s cosmetics five to 10 years ago.
(Header image: visual of people)