Male consumers spur medical aesthetics industry in China
Two men receive facial treatment at the China International Beauty Expo in Beijing on March 31. WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY
Segment in high gear as men make up bigger ratio
Looking good is no longer a women's business in China, judging by the growing number of men opting for medical aesthetics procedures in the country during the last two years.
China's rapid urbanization and consumption upgrade are making a growing number of people realize that being physically attractive places them in a more advantageous position, both at workplace and in daily life.
Wang Yang, a 27-year-old internet engineer in Beijing, is one of those who swears by medical aesthetics procedures. The young professional gets a Botox injection every six months to reduce his masseter muscle and make his face more symmetrical.
"I started taking the injections in 2015 when I was taking an ID photo and found out that the left and right sides of my face were asymmetrical. After careful thought, I decided to opt for medical aesthetics procedures to make slight adjustments. The Botox injections have made me look better and given me more confidence in the workplace," Wang said.
Zhang Hai, a 21-year-old university student from Beijing, underwent his first medical aesthetics procedure during the winter break to remove bags from under his eyes.
"I had been planning to undergo the procedure for months and had saved up for the same. The total cost of the procedure was 6,000 yuan ($924). Though it was a bit high, I did not mind as it resolved the pouch problems that had troubled me for several years," Zhang said.
"Having medical aesthetics procedures is just another way to look better. I did not really mind if people around me know about it or not. As a matter of fact, several of my friends also underwent medial aesthetics procedures," he added.
Zhang and Wang are among the several men in the country turning to medical aesthetics to make them more physically attractive and successful in their careers and studies.
Liu Jing, a senior medical aesthetics consultant in Chengdu, Sichuan province, said that in the last two years, she has witnessed an increasing number of male consumers coming to the beauty clinic where she works.
"Every one out of 10 consumers that comes to the clinic for consultation is male," she said.
According to a recent report from Shanghai-based market consultancy iResearch, in 2020, 30 percent of the medical aesthetics consumption market was generated by male consumers. A report from online aesthetic medicine platform SoYoung showed that in 2019, China's male medical aesthetics consumption market accounted for 9.98 percent of the total.
"The era when a good-looking person is more likely to gain attention and favor than an ordinary looking person has arrived. Be it at the workplace or in love, good looks are an advantage. Furthermore, with people's opinions changing, medical aesthetics is no longer exclusive to women. The market is seeing an increasing number of male consumers," said Ke Yang, a columnist at online finance media baobiannews.
"Currently, more and more cosmetics brands are inviting male celebrities to be spokesmen, and attractive male TV celebrities are becoming immensely popular. With male consumption upgrades and their changing concepts of self-awareness, men are now paying more attention to their looks.
"Curiosity for new things and pursuit of beauty among millennials and Generation Z have also prompted more young men to seek medical aesthetics procedures," Ke said.
Mu Liang, client manager in the marketing department of Mylike Younger－the high-end outlet of Beijing-based beauty salon giant Mylike Aesthetic Plastic Hospital Group－said that during the past five to six years, China's medical aesthetics sector has witnessed great changes.
"With the advancement of technology and the changing of the external environment where key opinion leaders and key opinion consumers are admitting to having plastic surgeries, medical aesthetics is gaining increasing acceptance among Chinese consumers.
"Women are not the only consumption group. Instead, they are bringing their boyfriends, husbands and sons to such institutions and encouraging them to have face-lifting injections, eye bag removals and hair transplants," Mu said.
Men who have reached high career milestones tend to pay more attention to their appearance, said Liu Di, founder and CEO of cosmetic surgery platform Gengmei.
"Our target group are middle-income or high-end customers. Some are celebrities, fitness or fashion bloggers, as well as artists," Mu said.
According to SoYoung, the post-2000s generation is more willing to have major surgeries such as bone surgery.
On the other hand, post-1990s men prefer comprehensive eye and nose surgery, while those born between 1970 and 1989 are fond of hair transplants and face-lifts.
A survey conducted by the World Health Organization showed that currently, over 250 million Chinese suffer from hair loss problems, and out of this nearly 160 million, or 64 percent are men.
These types of issues have created a tremendous market in the country. Guangzhou-based iiMedia Research said that last year, China's hair transplant market surpassed 20 billion yuan.
"Like women, men are also afraid of getting old. With technology maturing, more and more male consumers are now opting for medical aesthetics to look younger and be more attractive," Mu said.
In terms of consumption power, the report from SoYoung showed that in 2018, per customer transactions for men was 2.75 times that of women.
"Male consumers tend to pay handsomely, and they seldom bargain. Instead of the price, what they care about is whether the operation can really solve their problems. In contrast, female consumers normally spent less at a time, but the frequency of their consumption is higher," Mu said.
Industry experts said although there was an increasing number of male consumers willing to make known their pursuit of personal beauty, which lowers the psychological threshold for men to enter medical aesthetics institutions, most of them are still unwilling to reveal their related experiences. If enterprises are to tap into the market, constant efforts are needed in educating the market, they said.
For example, Mu said that the outlet is now shooting a series of programs called "Be a younger me",inviting 100 elites from all walks of life, including media outlet founders, investors and TV hosts, to share their stories about becoming younger.
"The 100 elites are KOLs, and their stories serve as a way of market education, encouraging the public to have a more open attitude about medical aesthetics," she said.
Statistics from iResearch showed that currently, there were more than 80,000 illegal medical aesthetics clinics in China, and qualified institutes only account for 14 percent of the total. The inadequacy of qualified institutions created a breeding ground for illegal ones.
They said that the government should make more efforts to supervise and regulate the sector, so that more male consumers can spend their money with less hesitancy.
More and more men are becoming the main consumption force of medical aesthetics. But there is still a long way to go, they added.