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Indian Men Seeking Male-specific Skin Care

By: Priyanka Bhattacharya
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the September 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

Finally, the Indian male is ready for creams and potions. Male consumers are now demanding products that are made specifically for them. Previously, they were satisfied with using creams and lotions that their mothers, wives or sisters used. They didn’t really feel the need for a separate set of products. But habits are changing rapidly, and male consumers in India are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to look groomed in order to match international trends, and the market for male grooming products, including skin care, is expected to achieve significant growth over its current $185 million size.

Look Conscious

The changing grooming behavior of Indian men is largely due to exposure to international grooming and fashion trends. In developed markets such as the U.S., the U.K. and Australia (which has even seen some success in men’s makeup ranges), male consumers are increasingly striving for a youthful appearance, as well as just looking good. In fact, men are generally becoming as pressured to look young and fresh as women. With India’s growing place in a global market and with exposure to multinational companies, Indian men are also feeling the pressure.

While women have long been investing in their skin care regimen and are willing to buy different types of products, men’s beauty consciousness has bloomed much more recently. Only recently, moisturizers were not common, and grooming meant a clean-shaven face, good hair cut and a nice cologne. But with increasing international travel and an amalgamation of traditional and Western culture, Indian men are seeking products and treatments, and are willing to try products as long as there are perceived results or benefits. “The male grooming sector is very nascent in India, unlike countries in the Asia-Pacific [market], but we see a latent need amongst male consumers,” says Vineet Agrawal, president, Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting, one of the leading Indian personal care companies with plans to enter the male skin care and grooming market.

Specialized Skin Care

While the market here is still nascent, one would think launching basic and general use male skin care products is the logical step taken by the beauty brands. But that has not been so. The big brands, when focusing on the men’s skin care market, have actually launched various products targeting specific skin needs. Much like Indian women, who have become much more aware and discriminatory about the type of products they choose, men are seeking targeted products. Therefore, the men’s skin care category is ripe with products for skin whitening, antiaging, oil control and other special skin needs.

“Till now, Indian men have been using the creams and lotions that have been lying on their mother’s or wife’s dresser, but they should know that a male skin type is different from a woman’s,” opines Yatan Ahluwalia, director, Y&E Style Media—an Indian distributor of U.S.-based beauty brand Susan’s Soaps & More, which launched the Steel skin care range for men. “They actually need products that can deal with skin problems such as dryness, razor burn, dark lips due to smoking and clogged pores. In fact, most male consumers are not willing to spend a long time in following a beauty regimen, so the products that are for men should do multitasking. For instance, in our Steel range, we have a moisturizing mask that can be applied once a week to clean the pores, remove uneven tan and deep condition the skin. Similarly, our lip balm for men exfoliates and moisturizes the lips at one go. It also takes care of discoloration of lips due to smoking.”