Kick off? Estée Lauder taps Asia’s male beauty market with Manchester United partnership
What Happened: Beauty and skincare giant Estée Lauder has inked an exclusive partnership deal with Manchester United in hopes of tapping the club’s fans in China and the Asia Pacific region.
Erica Kwok, Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing at Estée Lauder, explained that male consumers, who are often passionate about sports, are a big target market for the brand. With Manchester United boasting over 250 million fans in China alone, a team-up with one of the world’s most famous football clubs is perhaps not so surprising, even for a beauty player.
The Jing Take: With the collaboration kicking off this summer, Estée Lauder is finding a novel way to tap Asia’s burgeoning male beauty market. In China alone, the men’s beauty market was projected to surpass $10 billion in 2022 and could reach $33.4 billion (240 billion RMB) by 2027.
Chinese male beauty brands have already established themselves in the local market. On a ranking of men’s cosmetics and skincare brands by gross merchandise value on Douyin, domestic labels like Refresh (珂岸) and Bufflab accounted for seven of the top ten spots in the first half of 2023, with international brands Shakeup, L’Oréal, and Mentholatum claiming the remaining three spots.
This first-of-its-kind partnership will focus on Estée Lauder’s classic night serum product — the famous little brown bottle — and feature an official announcement by Manchester United’s famed players including Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Alejandro Ganaccho and Rafael Varane, released in China and Asia Pacific via digital channels.
The messaging will touch on the common values between skincare, sports and competition, demonstrating how the connection between health and beauty grows ever stronger. In the luxury industry, a growing number of brands have turned to global sports stars and Chinese athletes for lucrative endorsements and ambassadorships; in the lead up to the Qatar World Cup, Louis Vuitton famously tapped Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for a brand campaign.
Most male consumers may be relatively new to the skincare game, especially when it comes to premium products. But an Oliver Wyman report emphasizes the importance of new luxury consumers (those who made their first luxury purchase within the last 12 months) to the China market, with this demographic accounting for 50 percent of the estimated 5.4 million luxury shoppers in the country. This all bodes well for Estée Lauder’s latest marketing move.
Moreover, Manchester United Football Club may have more on most in terms of male grooming heritage. Much has been written about David Beckham’s skincare routine as one of football’s first unashamedly metrosexual players. The former Manchester United star even launched his own (now discontinued) skincare range called House 99 and to this day continues to be a vanguard of male grooming globally.
Can Estée Lauder leverage Asia’s football fandom to sell men’s skincare products and grow its male consumer base in the region? Feigua data shows that in the first half of 2023, the GMV of men’s makeup on Douyin surged by 364.6 percent year-on-year. With this market being especially open to beauty and grooming, we’d bet that a clever campaign could work wonders.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.