Pretty boys and dancing divas give South Korean cosmetics Asian appeal

Sun Dec 9, 2012 4:48pm EST
 
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By Somang Yang

SEOUL (Reuters) - Their skin is smooth, their hair is salon-fresh, and between them they've sold millions of records. Now, they are making it acceptable for young Asian men to buy beauty products.

South Korea's male K-pop icons have been enlisted by the country's cosmetics firms as they try to expand beyond its borders to take on global giants like L'Oreal and Unilever across the continent.

"The male K-pop stars are very good looking and I think the make up helps them look good. So why not me as well?" said Lenard Heng, a 26-year old graphic designer, out clubbing in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

South Korean men spend $900 million a year on beauty products, more than a fifth of the global total, research firm Euromonitor says. But even the vanity of a nation is no longer much of a growth opportunity.

By contrast, in the emerging markets of Asia the middle class is rapidly expanding, and with it opportunities to sell goods like foundation, lip balm, skincare lotions and eyeliner. Demand for personal care products will rise by over 40 percent in China and Indonesia alone in the next five years, Euromonitor estimates.

In these flourishing economies, South Korean companies like Amorepacific Corp and LG Household & Healthcare Ltd want to establish themselves as premium products with a distinctly Asian sensibility.

"Using male K-pop stars charms the ladies. It may also prompt younger men to want to look more like these idols," said Kim Jungcheon, Chief Executive Officer of South Korean cosmetics firm Tonymoly.

For the region's young men who were raised on K-pop, the metrosexual appeal of South Korean boy bands like 2PM, Big Bang and Super Junior, their faces glowing with youth, is a quality Western or Japanese competitors cannot deliver.   Continued...

 
Malaysian make-up artist Alex Gun applies cosmetics, some of which are South Korean-made, at his apartment in Petaling Jaya outside Kuala Lumpur December 7, 2012.South Korea's male K-pop icons have been enlisted by the country's cosmetics firms as they try to expand beyond its borders to take on global giants like L'Oreal and Unilever across the continent. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad