K-pop, social media fuel male beauty industry in Indonesia

November 6, 2023

JAKARTA – Cultural changes have made male grooming more popular, especially in parts of Asia, and what has become a generational trend in South Korea is only just beginning in Indonesia.

Some Indonesian companies are making their products more widely acceptable to both sexes by featuring male models in advertising campaigns. In 2021, BLP Beauty’s campaign featured men wearing makeup, while PT Garland Cantik Indonesia has done the same to market its lineup of foundations under the Dear Me Beauty brand.

Lizzie Parra, who founded BLP Beauty under PT Lizzie Parra Kreasi, said one of the drivers of demand for men’s personal care products was that people were no longer boxed into “colored make-up products” like eyeshadow, foundations and powder.

“Compared to 10 years ago, the beauty market is also expanding, and most individuals who work in the entertainment sector wear make-up, too,” Lizzie said.

“Actually, some people purchase BLP’s loose powder, since men’s skin tends to be oily and they want to decrease their oily complexion when filming or shooting for their job.”

By 2027, the global market for men’s beauty and personal care products is expected to generate $183.2 billion in sales, according to a study conducted by GMO Research.

Japan, Thailand, and South Korea accounted for most of the purchases of men’s beauty products, Esquire reported, with male consumers in South Korea alone spending more than $1 billion a year on cosmetics.

While Indonesia’s market is not in that league, a rising number of local brands offer a wide range of beauty and grooming products that cater to the needs of men.

“I no longer believe that ‘glow-up’ culture is exclusive to women,” Jessica Regina, who launched the male personal care product brand Men’s Theory earlier this year, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Growing industry

Over the past few years, the overall beauty and personal care industry in Indonesia has experienced remarkable growth, reaching revenue of $3.71 billion in 2023, as reported by Statista. Numerous local celebrities and young entrepreneurs have succeeded in developing and marketing their own products.

Lizzie attributes the market growth partly to increased public awareness about the risk of skin cancer from excessive exposure to sunlight, which is prompting customers to look for products like the tinted sunscreen Lizzie and her team developed.

“What we are talking about here are people who live in a metropolitan city [such as Jakarta], who are more aware of the danger of UV light, and they are also more open to buying sunscreen,” she said.

“The most important thing here is not to make people beautiful but to make people feel more confident about themselves.”

Stefiana Filia Astari, development lead for the personal care category at Indonesian e-commerce platform Tokopedia, told The Jakarta Post that the personal care product market for men in Indonesia was developing alongside the women’s beauty care market.

In terms of transaction volume, she added, sales in the face care category (for both men and women) had virtually doubled from the second half of 2019, or before the pandemic, to the first half of 2023.

“Throughout the first half of 2023, we also saw some beauty and body care product trends that were extremely popular among both men and women; facial cleanser, facial serum and facial cream were among the best-selling products in the face care and beauty category,” she said in a statement.

The K-pop factor

The global impact of K-pop has been instrumental in promoting the use of skincare and personal care products among men. The flawless and luminous complexion of K-pop superstars has had a profound influence on younger generations, inspiring them to adopt skincare regimens and embrace beauty products.

“The trend is enabling a transformation in the perception of masculinity, as well as the increasing acceptance of beauty and personal care products,” Jessica explained.

Many Korean cosmetics companies capitalize on the global fame of their country’s celebrities to boost sales of their products abroad. South Korean actors Lee Min Ho and Kim Soo Hyun, respectively, are the campaign faces of Indonesian beauty brands Azarine and YOU.

“The immense popularity of the K-pop fandom in our country, which extends to both women and men, has the potential to influence consumer buying patterns significantly,” Jessica said.

Lizzie noted that Korean content in general had a tremendous impact on Indonesian culture during the pandemic. According to The Korea Herald, the South Korean culture ministry conducted a study in 2021 involving China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Turkey, France and the United States and found that more people were consuming South Korean content. Korean drama was the most popular content type, followed by beauty content, variety shows and fashion-related content.

“It influences people to be more aware of the way they present themselves after watching a certain show,” Lizzie said.

“That’s what the beauty companies in Indonesia have been waiting for, because [men] are no longer hiding themselves [and are] more open to grooming products for themselves.”

She added that brands now tended to localize their advertisements by having more local celebrities promote their products.

Indonesian influencer Gabriel Prince has become an ambassador for Barenbliss, a Korean makeup brand with a large customer base in Indonesia. Azarine, meanwhile, has been collaborating with actor Angga Yunanda. According to a study by Business Wire, 64 percent of global consumers would pay more for products or services that speak to them in their native tongue.

“Many firms are attempting to recruit good-looking men, since their fan base will eventually grow, and having a male influencer as the face of a beauty product is no longer considered taboo,” Lizzie said.

The pandemic

Aside from K-culture, the pandemic has also reportedly reshaped perceptions about skin health.

“Many people have been forced to stay at home due to the [pandemic], giving them more time to spend on social media and making it more convenient for those searching for references to products or tutorials […] during this time,” Jessica said.

According to a report by MarkPlus, social media has promoted interest in purchasing male beauty products. TikTok was the predominant platform for such transactions prior to the recent closure of TikTok Shop, followed by Facebook and others. In addition, the consulting firm found, purchasing decisions were also impacted by endorsements from nano-influencers.

“We never edit the photographs of our models. Many businesses modify their [campaign posters], but what we’re trying to do is make people understand that skin texture is natural,” Lizzie said.

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