Taking care of one’s skin isn’t the concern of only one gender, with men around the world increasingly using personal care products beyond just shaving cream and hair gel. Announcing in 2018 that it was launching its men’s personal care brand, Boy De Chanel, Chanel prefers to call men’s usage of personal care products self-confidence1. According to them, “Men should be free to use make-up products to correct their appearance, without calling into question their masculinity.”
However, if you’re looking for insights on protein powder and fitness, you can check out our article on the Malaysian sports nutrition eCommerce market.
But how big is this market exactly? Why are men in Malaysia buying these products and how does eCommerce tie into all this?
For this article, men’s grooming products’ definition includes:
Globally, men’s grooming products sales are expected to hit USD 166 billion in 2022, according to Allied Market Research2. Twincraft, which manufactures bar soaps, mentions that Western Europe is the largest market for male personal care. Asia Pacific, on the other hand, shows the highest growth within this segment.
Within Malaysia, the men’s grooming market grew by 8% from 2017’s MYR 935 million to hit MYR 1 billion in 2018 according to Euromonitor. This market is expected to hit MYR 1.57 billion by 2023 with a compound annual growth rate of 9 per cent.
When it comes to the eCommerce personal care market in Malaysia3, there is much to look forward to. Revenue in this segment amounts to US$402 million in 2020, and is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2020-2024) of 10.2%, resulting in a market volume of US$594 million by 2024. User penetration is 23.0% in 2020, and the average revenue per user (ARPU) currently amounts to US$53.93.
Malaysia’s been seeing rising GDP per capita lately, but this is tempered by rising inequality between the higher income and middle class of the country. Many middle-class Malaysians face higher taxation, and stagnating wages which could be driving their price sensitivity.
Supported by Malaysia having a high internet penetration many Malaysians, particularly tech-savvy millennials, turn to online shopping to for better prices and product availability. According to a 2018 study by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission4:
The same study found that women are more likely to shop online than men, but only slightly. eCommerce adoption stood at 53.9 per cent for women and 48.8 per cent for men. If you’d like to find out more insights on Malaysia’s eCommerce consumers, check out our article on who Malaysia’s online shoppers are as well as our Malaysia eCommerce insights resources.
Armed with this background, let’s dive into the trends and behaviours that drive the men’s grooming eCommerce market in Malaysia.
In 2012, L’Oreal commissioned a study5 involving 500 Malaysian male respondents to find out their attitudes and behaviour towards personal care products. This covers Malaysian men’s primary motivations for using these products, their greatest concerns, and even some of their personal care habits.
Tying back to Chanel’s self-confidence statement, the L’Oreal study found that 56 per cent of the Malaysian men use these products to build self-confidence. They also use these products to maintain personal hygiene and appearance at work.
They build self-confidence through these products by addressing some of their primary concerns:
While these are the major concerns, there is also evidence of Malaysian men buying items like brow pencils, concealers and foundation. One MAC store6 in Malaysia started noticing Malaysian men coming into the store themselves to buy the products they want, their choices empowered by all the information available to them.
Tying in with the L’Oreal study’s findings, Euromonitor7 highlighted that men’s skincare products are becoming increasingly popular in Malaysia. The Star8 reports that Malaysian men are also becoming more aware of what they want out of skincare. To cater to that, Lab Series – a men’s skincare brand – categorises its product according to skincare concerns to make it easier for men to find products for their skincare needs.
This matches what Lazada does as well. On Lazada’s men’s care page, it also has filter categories for skin issues: dryness, dullness, and inflammation, dark spots and hyperpigmentation. This can be further filtered by skin type (normal, dull, oily, etc.), skincare benefits (moisturizing, brightening, etc.) and even product form (GEL, emulsion).
The L’Oreal study also revealed that men tend to buy men’s grooming products for themselves, as opposed to letting their partners buy it for them. With their increasing sophistication, you could take a page from Lazada and Lab Series’ online store playbook and categorise your men’s personal care products by skin condition, product type, benefit and more to add to their online shopping experience.
In a personal care industry that is highly saturated with products targeting women, many leading brands are turning to men’s products to grow their market share. In recent years, there have been a number of aggressive new launches within luxury men’s products, according to Euromonitor9. For instance, brands like Ermenegildo Zegna, Louis Vuitton, Emporio Armani and Montblanc have all launched luxury men’s fragrances.
Other cosmetics lines not usually associated with men’s grooming routines are also popping up. The aforementioned Boy de Chanel cosmetics range includes foundation, eyebrow pencils and lip balm. The MAC store mentioned in The Star’s article saw some Malaysian men spending MYR 200 to MYR 300 on their make-up sets.
While these types of products could take a while to become mainstream, there are other indicators that there are men in Malaysia who make use of these products. Syameel, a Malaysian influencer, regularly posts about skincare and cosmetics routines and tips on Twitter. He also features and talks about products like cleansers, toners, moisturisers, exfoliators and other products. He currently has 45 thousand followers on Twitter10 and 86 thousand followers on Instagram11 with good engagement from his followers. We’ll be covering a little more about how influencers can help you reach consumers in Malaysia’s men’s grooming eCommerce market further below.
Not to count out men’s hair care and shaving products, according to Euromonitor12 men’s hair care contributes the largest amount to Malaysian men’s grooming’s total sales. This can also be seen when visiting the men’s care sections of Shopee and Lazada, where hair pomades, anti-balding products and also beard care products make up most of page 1 on both sites. Euromonitor also states that Gatsby and Brylcreem are among the top three men’s grooming brands by market share in Malaysia.
On the other hand, as the L’Oreal study revealed men in Malaysia are concerned about their skin. Men’s skincare products are becoming increasingly popular in Malaysia. Leading brands in the category, Garnier, Biore, Nivea for Men, and L’Oreal Men Expert are continuing to launch new products. These include products like Garnier Men Power White Moisturizer, Men’s Biore Oil Buster Acne Action White Clay Facial Foam.
This skincare and men’s grooming trend doesn’t just stop at established Western brands, Korean and Japanese men’s grooming products also have a place in Malaysian men’s grooming routines. According to a 2019 Statista13 study on the origins of skincare products used by men in Malaysia, Korean products appeared in 25 per cent of respondents’ routines while Japanese products appeared in 24 per cent.
To get an idea of what these products could be, Zalora’s men’s grooming category features the following brands:
As for Japanese brands, Follow Me has men’s hair care products like pomades and hair creams while Biore is owned by Kao Group. This ties in with Nielsen’s14 finding that Malaysian consumers prefer global brands.
If you’re stocking up on brands like these, but haven’t started selling into Malaysia you’ll want to test the market before making any major commitments. Cross-border eCommerce, supplemented with cross-border shipping into Malaysia could be a good way for you to test the market. Be sure to find a reliable cross-border shipping partner with a strong logistics network in Malaysia, particularly in the Klang Valley where eCommerce penetration is the highest in the country.
Now that we’ve got a better idea of what’s driving men’s grooming purchases in Malaysia, it helps to know can influence their purchasing decisions and also better understand how their preferred channels for purchasing these items.
The L’Oreal study also uncovered that Malaysian men cite television as the medium that influences their men’s grooming purchases the most. This can be coupled with local spokespeople that they can identify with.
Brands have been making use of this finding. Fahrin Ahmad15, who acts in numerous films, TV shows and dramas, was a spokesman for L’Oreal Paris Men, GNC and now also runs a store on Shopee which sells men’s wear and fragrances. In 2014, Garnier Men tapped actor and singer Aiman Hakim Ridza as their spokesman. But it appears that using sports teams can work as well.
Nivea For Men also managed to use television to link their product with football and confidence. By teaming up with local football teams and attaching confidence with natural competitiveness over a national past time, they developed a series of branded content which aired on national TV. It started off with some Youtube pre-roll ads and video skins on popular football websites which directed viewers to Nivea’s campaign Facebook app.
At the app, they were asked to sign up for a grassroots football tournament, where participants needed to submit user-generated content videos of their team and stories. In-store, members of Malaysia’s Harimau Malaya football team came to surprise shoppers and drive PR for the event. During the tournament, the final two teams out of fifty gained guidance from Harimau Malaya footballers while the participating players gained a Nivea Men makeover to get them ready for the finals. The finals were aired as branded content on national television.
This integrated campaign resulted in greater social engagement and increased market share, as reported by Marketing Interactive16.
Social media is still a great way to reach Malaysians. Malaysians spend an average of 5 hours and 47 minutes a day across social media platforms as reported by Yougov17. Top platforms include Facebook (81 per cent of Malaysians use this), Instagram (64 per cent). They use social media for staying up to date with news and current events, but also to find funny and engaging content (48 per cent) or to find new products to buy (45 per cent). According to Starngage18, 71% of consumers are likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference.
What that means is that influencers who are also active on social media still have a lot of say in the matter as well. Ken’s Apothecary and Laneige taps on Andre Amir19, a menswear personality who has won awards like Esquire Malaysia’s Best Dressed Man and Style Star of the Year. Andre Amir has 75 thousand Instagram20 followers, is frequently featured in media like The New Straits Times newspaper and Harper’s Bazaar. Then there’s also social media skincare influencers like Syameel on Twitter and Instagram.
Malaysian men still mostly buy their personal care products at brick-and-mortar stores like grocery chains (Tesco), health and beauty retailers (Watsons, Guardian) and the like. However, with cheaper prices and greater product variety offered by online platforms, this is likely to change.
Malaysians are quite price-sensitive and love good deals. One of the highest selling products on Shopee’s21 men’s grooming section are Gillette blue razors sold at very low prices. Items shipped from overseas, such as hair pomades and electric razors are also being bought online there, which shows Malaysian men’s appetite for cross-border purchases.
While conversations about men’s grooming have not become mainstream yet, there’s a growing market for products like men’s skincare and maybe even cosmetics. Malaysian men are becoming more informed about what their grooming routines should include and primarily buy these products for themselves. If your brand can find a way to relate to them personally, or even ignite feelings of confidence or competitiveness, they may open up more to your products.
Last but not least, if you’re selling your products cross-border into Malaysia the delivery is the moment of truth for your male Malaysian consumers. Be sure to partner up with a shipping partner with good knowledge of Malaysian customs and a reliable eCommerce delivery system in Malaysia to give your consumers the online shopping experience they’ll love.
Interested in Malaysian Health and Beauty eCommerce insights? Find more of them here!
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