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“I think how you present yourself is important as it represents who you are and makes an impression.” says Timothy Oh, a communications and digital manager living in Singapore when interviewed by the Straits Times1. Here, he’s responding to a question on why he invests in men’s skincare products. He spends almost SGD 400 on skincare every month, and started to take better care of skin five years ago, after he noticed more gender-neutral skincare products appearing in the market.
Timothy is part of a consumer segment that is warming up to investing more in men’s grooming products in Singapore. Many of them also shop for these grooming products online which represents a good opportunity for men’s grooming merchants and brands to get in on the action.
What are some of the trends that are driving this market, especially for online purchases? Before we can find out, it helps to get an overview of the Singapore men’s grooming eCommerce market.
In this article, Men’s Grooming includes the following product categories:
Euromonitor2 reported that the market size for this segment hit SGD 144 million or USD 103.7 million in 2018. Their most recent report estimates this to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 2 per cent to reach SGD 170.6 million or USD 122.8 million by 2023. Euromonitor also covers that most sales were mostly through offline channels, but eCommerce’s share is growing. However, it’s worth noting that the coronavirus may impact these estimates as it was not factored in at the time of estimation.
As for eCommerce, We Are Social’s latest Digital 2020 in Singapore3, Singapore’s total eCommerce market value is estimated to be USD 2.32 billion. They also mention that roughly the same percentage of men and women are shopping online, with 56 per cent of men compared to 57 per cent of women.
Shopee4 conducted a study on men’s grooming purchasers between March 23 and 25 in 2018. The study was based on a little over 3,000 Singaporean male Shopee users. The study found that nearly 70 per cent of them bought more in 2018 compared to the last, with purchases being mainly hair pomade, toothbrushes and pimple patches.
The study also uncovered interesting info on when they do their shopping. Most of the purchases tended to happen at midnight on Sundays and Mondays. Considering the busy schedules of Singaporean men these days, the convenience of being able to shop anytime, even when brick and mortar stores are closed, is a big plus.
The other reasons the respondents cited for purchasing these items online include affordable prices and product variety. 60 per cent of respondents in the study said they compare prices across multiple sites before making a purchase. As for product variety, JP Morgan reports5 that 60 per cent of Singaporeans have shopped cross-border, likely in search of products not available on Singapore’s shores.
This is further aided by Singapore having a really high mobile internet penetration rate of 93 per cent according to We are Social’s latest 2020 report3. Coupled with having one of Southeast Asia’s highest GDP’s per capita6, purchases of men’s grooming products online has good prospects. If you’d like to find more insights like these, we’ve recently updated our guide on Singapore’s eCommerce market.
Now that we know that men are increasingly purchasing these items online, let’s dive into the trends that could be causing this.
While Shopee’s sales of toothbrushes, hair pomades and acne patches doesn’t really break new men’s grooming ground, some skincare brands are highlighting increases in male store traffic from as far back as in 2013.
Brands like Etude House saw sales of its men’s products rise tenfold from 2013 to 20151 while mentioning that average spending per male customer increased. Later that year, they launched a men’s range consisting of a foam cleanser and a whitening and wrinkle fluid7. Escentials, a multi-brand beauty retailer, saw a 20 per cent increase in male consumers in 2014 and 2015. During that period, the average male spent SGD150 to SGD250 at Escentials1.
Euromonitor2 is also expecting male beauty to become more mainstream. According to them, male beauty is getting increasing attention from local media and also from local influencers on Instagram. This increased advocacy of men’s skincare and beauty supplements help to break down existing prejudices around beauty products and encourages men to try them out.
The expectation of male beauty becoming mainstream has led to some big names trying to get in on the action, such as Chanel releasing Boy de Chanel8 in 2019 and also some brands starting to adopt gender-neutral branding. Sulwhasoo7 in 2016 released a serum, an emulsion and an anti-ageing cream and a cleansing foam in 2016
These include travel, lifestyle and fashion influencer Edwin Hung9 (171 thousand Instagram followers) and Mediacorp artiste Benjamin Tan10 (44.8 thousand Instagram followers) who sometimes mention men’s grooming brands on their posts. Augustman also has coverage of men’s beauty products, including South Korean brands11.
Looking to ship men’s grooming products cross-border into Singapore? Janio’s strong network in the country will help you get your products into your customers’ hands on time and on target.
As opposed to their Malaysian counterparts who spend more on toiletries, men’s grooming revenue was mostly from fragrances. Some of the top fragrance brands mentioned by Euromonitor include Bvlgari, Boss, and Gucci.
However, it should be noted that these were also driven by heavy online discounts of these products which ties back to Singaporean men’s affordable pricing motivation. But Euromonitor also predicts that revenue from men’s fragrance sales might end up growing further since fragrances tend to cost more per unit than other men’s grooming categories.
This shows that some men in Singapore are willing to spend when it comes to how they look and present themselves, and this has extended to things like skincare too.
According to the medical director of South Bridge Aesthetics Clinic12, men in Singapore are growing their understanding of good skin hygiene, skincare, and preventative anti-ageing treatments. That clinic has seen male patients as young as 23 years old and as old as 60. He attributes this to a competitive corporate culture, increasingly stressful working environments and rising affluence. Some of these treatments can range from SGD 300 to SGD 1,6001.
Other motivations that he mentions is that looking good and feeling good can likely lead to more success at work, or the pressure to look your best at social gatherings with friends, family and dates.
But a simpler way to sum-up their motivation for buying men’s grooming products is confidence. A male skincare fan interviewed by the Straits Times mentioned that he spends about SGD100 on skincare products a month which includes BB cream. He primarily uses BB cream to cover pimples or scars. Timothy, from the earlier Straits Times article, mentions his skincare routine involves facial wash, toner, sunscreen and serum to moisturise the skin, mainly from a South Korean brand.
If your online store sources these products from overseas, but you’re currently unsure of the demand for them in Singapore, you could try cross-border shipping. As you’ll be paying shipping costs only on confirmed sales, it has lower risk compared to setting up or renting warehouses straight in Singapore. Look out for a shipping partner with a strong network and good local presence.
It should also be noted that men may not be too familiar with multi-step beauty regimens and would prefer products that keep things simple, which ties in with our next point.
Originally spearheaded by K-dramas and K-pop, K-beauty has made inroads in most countries with Singapore being no exception. A 2019 Rakuten Insight study13 on the share of Korean beauty products out of all their beauty products owned by male respondents in Singapore showed that 75 per cent of respondents had at least a quarter of their beauty products from Korean brands.
Adding to that, Euromonitor2 also notes that tone-up creams targeted at men are starting to gain popularity. Tone-up creams are a hybrid of colour cosmetics and skincare, with the added benefit of being simple to apply. This is great for men who find make-up regimens difficult to follow. Tying back to K-beauty, these products are usually driven by South Korean mass brands via online marketplaces. These brands include Innisfree, Missha, and A’Pieu Madecassoside, among others.
National service-men are also receiving a bit of attention from this trend in the form of camouflage creams. In Singapore, national service is mandatory for all men. Some of them need to apply camo paint on their skin while during activities like jungle-training exercises. Some common issues include skin irritation, rashes and breakouts while keeping the camo paint on for too long.
To counter this, The Face Shop, a K-beauty brand, offers Arsainte Eco-therapy For Men Grooming Camo Cream. Some of its online product pages14 mentions it contains plant oil to minimise signs of irritation, is formulated to control excessive sebum and can easily be removed with cleansing foam.
Brick and Mortar outlets are still receiving most of the revenue from men’s grooming sales, but as was pointed out, channels that can cater to Singaporean men’s busy lifestyles are gaining more prominence.
While there are 24-hour vending machines2 that can now dispense fragrances, the Shopee study showed that online channels are here to stay. The convenience of deliveries and the draw of deals and discounts are set to keep eCommerce’s share of all retail sales increasing. In fact, Statista15 expects eCommerce to grow from an estimated SGD 2.7 billion in 2020 to hit SGD 3.9 billion in 2024. This especially so in light of events like the recent coronavirus outbreak, which could see people shunning physical stores in favour of staying home.
If you’re starting out, listing on platforms like Lazada and Shopee might be good to start with to get your products in front of as many people as possible. However, if you have an established brand and are looking to maintain control of the brand experience, brand.coms are still the way to go. You could try partnering up with certain influencers to get word of your brand and products out there, especially when it comes to how your product can help them build more self-confidence.
But the shopping experience is incomplete without delivery. Singaporeans are quite vocal on social media when it comes to eCommerce shopping and are likely to complain there when things go wrong. However, they’re also more likely than Indonesians to share their joy of eCommerce shopping if the whole experience meets or exceeds their expectations.
If you’d like to test out demand more before you commit to establishing warehouses, you could try cross-border shipping. With that said, it helps to work with a cross-border shipping partner with a strong network and good local presence in Singapore.
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