Whether it is workplace competition, a growing urge to appear well groomed, or increased visibility of metrosexual men in pop culture, a melange of social and cultural factors are driving Indian men to break stereotypes and opt for skincare products -- giving, in the process, a boost to the skin care market, say experts.
Shikhee Agrawal, Head Training, The Body Shop, feels that men have evolved from basic shaving creams and shampoos to a variety of products for haircare, skincare, beard-care, fragrance, accessories and beyond.
"Over the years, men have begun to accept that basic skin care and even make-up is a daily routine to keep the skin healthy and flawless. Competition among the workforce too has upscaled the drive to look youthful and has led to increased demand for products specific to men.
"In India, as in other parts of the world, light skin is the culturally accepted and endorsed form of beauty. Skin lightening, hair colour and oil control products are most popular among Indian men," Agrawal told IANS.
According to a 2016 Assocham report, the market size of India's beauty, cosmetic and grooming market will reach $20 billion by 2025 from the current $6.5 billion on the back of a rise in middle class disposable incomes and the growing aspirations of people to live the good life and look good.
Also, a rising aspiration among Indian men to look better groomed has led to this market's rapid growth of more than 42 per cent in the last five years, revealed the report.
Interestingly, men are even replacing women in some beauty product endorsements. For instance, Maybelline's Big Shot mascara campaign, released earlier this year, featured a male model with an eye make-up, thick eyelashes and well-groomed stubble.
Apart from models, male singers like English-Irish pop band One Direction have ventured into the beauty industry with a make-up range, and so did Grammy Award winner Justin Bieber. He has a nail polish collection under brand Nicole by OPI.
"Indian men are increasingly gravitated towards lighter skin as more and more fairness commercials and branding populates the digital space. The notion of acting, being and looking more 'Western' has influenced a lot of young boys and men," Vidushi Agarwal, Head Brands of Headstart International, a marketer of beauty brands, told IANS.
Bollywood also plays a big role in influencing youth. Remember actors like Shah Rukh Khan and John Abraham endorsing skin lightening creams despite criticism?
"With more and more Bollywood celebrities and public personalities openly supporting fairer skin, young audiences are naturally drawn towards the same. Traditionally, Indians associate good looks with fair skin in women, but now even men are being judged by the same benchmark," added Agarwal.
Experts at ayurvedic beauty and wellness brand Kama Ayurveda feel that fairness and brightness remain important for Indian consumers.
"The rise in demand for male grooming products is driven by various emerging factors such as rising disposable incomes, growth of social media and the increased visibility of metrosexual celebrity men in Indian pop culture.
"The changing grooming behaviour of Indian men is also largely due to exposure and access to international influences and trends. The younger demographic requires and demands to be well presented and attired.
"Male consumers in India are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to look groomed in order to evolve personal hygiene and boost self-confidence," said the experts.
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