BEIJING: Male consumers are likely to be the key drivers of growth in the Chinese skincare industry this year, according to figures from Ifop Asia, the research firm.

The company stated that sales of products targeted at this audience rose by more than 25% in 2009, and will continue to improve going forward, reaching $570 million (€416m; £365m) by the end of 2010.

"In the foreseeable future, men will be the source of the next growth in the Chinese skincare market," it said in a report. "Men realise that good looks will help in various aspects of their personal and professional life."

More specifically, the Shanghai-based consultancy argued that this trend is being driven by a "small group" of shoppers with a "less traditional and more sexually appealing male image."

This cohort can be further divided into three sub-categories – "high-end", "metrosexual" and "basic” – although brands hoping to make an impact should all emphasise qualities like "strength and modesty."

"Men are more open to sharing comments online than in the real world,” Ifop Asia's study added, meaning that a strong web presence could be another way of connecting with this group.

L'Oréal, the French cosmetics giant, revealed that its various masculine ranges contributed 12% of revenues in the world's most populous nation in 2009.

Paolo Gasparrini, president and managing director of its local arm, said it "is a cosmetics provider for all people including men, children and the elderly."

Sephora, GF, Dior and Clinique were found to be among the most favoured such offerings among Chinese men in a poll last year, with skincare brands typically much more popular than fragrances.

As previously reported, HSBC has similarly suggested that, at present, China is "a local luxury-goods market that is probably the only male-driven one on the planet."

Data sourced from The Independent; additional content by Warc staff