”Product quality considering sensitive characteristics of men’s skin is the reason for growth.”
Men’s cosmetics market is growing fast. According to the market research firm Euromonitor, the men's cosmetics market in Korea has grown from 730 billion won in 2010 to 1.4 trillion won in 2020, nearly doubling in 10 years. This is because the number of ‘grooming men (men who unreservedly invest time and money in their appearance) is increasing, particularly in their 20s and 30s.
Previously, men's cosmetics were considered merely a sub-category of women's cosmetics brands, but now, men’s specialist brands are emerging. However, NICO BOCO’s CEO Ms. Lee Yu-Jeong already predicted the market potential five years ago and founded ‘MUH’, the first men’s cosmetics brand in Korea. MUH is effectively approaching consumers by advocating eco-friendliness and zero-irritation of their products. The firm already reached a milestone of 5 billion won sales last years. MK Health met the CEO and had a conversation.
- What made you decide to create a specialist men’s cosmetics brand?
At the time, there was no brand specializing in men’s cosmetics. Then, men who were interested in their appearances were increasing, so I thought it had a potential. In addition, I thought it would be good to relate NICO BOCO with men’s cosmetics brand as it had begun as a sports fashion brand.
- What did you think was the most important part in creating men's cosmetics?
We had studied the characteristics of men's skin with experts for a long time. Particularly, because men have thicker skin than women, it inevitably produces more sebum. And at the same time, it is very sensitive. We made the product by using milder ingredients than those for women's cosmetics but gave them excellent functions such as supplying moisture and improving oil.
In fact, all the products of MUH are rated at 0 in the low irritation test. This means there is not even a hint of irritation. All the ingredients are EWG green grade, and any components hazardous to the environment and humans are excluded. In addition, men's cosmetics typically contain a high percentage of alcohol. We also use only the highest quality alcohol.
- If there are more differentiations you want to talk about, what are they?
Men's cosmetics usually have strong smell of alcohol and artificial fragrances. But nowadays, male consumers do not like these scents. So, we developed a subtle yet sophisticated ‘floral musk mint’ scent. The fragrance is made only of natural essential oils, so harmless to the human body.
MUH can be largely divided into two lines, and the ‘D-Remedic’ line, aimed at the younger generation, is mainly sold at department stores. Its design feels neat and sensitive. On the other hand, home shopping channels are the main distribution route for the 'Premium Edition' line targeting the middle-aged. The products are contained in glass bottles, which gives a dignified and luxurious feel.
- What products are you focusing on right now?
It is ‘DR Plus Derma Shampoo’, a functional shampoo that alleviates hair loss. Actually, it can be used by everyone, not just men. There are many functional shampoos targeted for hair loss, but the ingredients in our product can be boasted to be the mildest among them. All the ingredients of the shampoo are also EWG green grade, and 100% natural surfactants used. Irritation scores are also 0.00. Even toddlers and pregnant women can use it safely. ‘Ginsenoside’ of red ginseng is the main ingredient, which has excellent effects on alleviating hair loss and improving hair root and hair texture.
- What are your future plans and aspirations?
We plan to release a hair dyeing shampoo made with the knowhow acquired during the development of DR Plus Derma Shampoo within this year. Furthermore, as men who are interested in makeup are increasing, we also plan to release products such as lip balms and eyebrows. We will collaborate with premium barber shops to conduct marketing. I also hope to raise sales to 15 billion won within the next three years and then go public.
- Finally, would like to say something to male consumers? We heard that you paid attention to entering department stores from the beginning.
In fact, male consumers are more influenced by the brand power than female consumers when purchasing. For this reason, we tried to imprint our high-end brand image through entering department stores. In addition, at the time, department stores only had foreign specialist men’s cosmetics brands, and this made us competitive in prices as a domestic brand.
I recommend you have strict standards when choosing cosmetics. Men tend to have troubles with pores and sebum, and if you use cosmetics that don't suit your skin, they can only get worse. You need to choose a product based on not only the brand power but also careful examination of the ingredients.