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L'Oreal tips hat to growing men's cosmetics market

"Our market has numerous reservoirs of growth," chairman and outgoing chief executive officer Lindsay Owen-Jones wrote in an introduction to shareholders. Cosmetics firms everywhere are focusing on the potential in well-groomed men -- sometimes dubbed "metrosexuals."

According to L'Oréal -- whose Biotherm brand has targeted products at men since 1985 -- men now account for 10 per cent of the total cosmetics market, a figure that is rising rapidly.

"Men today are changing and are no longer bound by their traditional roles . . . Taking care of one's appearance is no longer a taboo," L'Oréal wrote.
Sales of L'Oréal mens' products grew 17.8 per cent in 2005 -- far outstripping total group sales growth of 6.5 per cent.

The company estimated more than 20 per cent of European men now use skin care products, compared with 4 per cent in 1990.
In South Korea, the figure is over 80 per cent, it said.

L'Oréal said it had identified three types of male customers: "Hedonists" -- urban men who are extremely well-informed about cosmetics and who "cannot understand why the most technically advanced treatments should be reserved primarily for women"; "Sensible" -- those who care mainly about their health; and "Pragmatists" -- those who want simple and affordable products.

"Driven by skin care, the men's products market is growing rapidly, and . . . the rate of expansion could be at least three times as fast as the rest of the cosmetics market," it said. OR (Paris) fell 95 euro cents ($1.32) to €71.25.