A Thai television campaign from earlier this year shows the all-male Korean pop band B1A4 basking in the adoration of their female fans before retiring to their nearest Wuttisak clinic.
Technicians wave surgical wands over their bodies and the young men gaze admiringly at the apparent transformation of their skin into a flawless white lustre.
In recent years, Asian men have made up an increasing portion of the beauty industry’s customer base.
Nivea launched the first skin-whitening product targeted exclusively to Asian men in 2005, a time where the cosmetic industry’s global growth strategy was focused on increasing its market share among men.
French cosmetics giant L’Oreal’s $1.1 billion first quarter results in Asia accounted for 20 per cent of the company’s global sales, a result the company partially attributes to the success of it’s Men’s Expert line in the region.
According to Reuters, male skin-care product sales rose 17 per cent worldwide last year to $2.4 billion.
While only a fraction of the $97 billion global skin-care market, more than 80 per cent of this growth occurred in Asia.
A report by Euromonitor International found that men’s health and beauty merchandise sales in China are already level with the North American market and are expected to grow five times more rapidly in the years ahead.
In Phnom Penh, the trend is echoed at the Tonle Bassac branch of Wuttisak, a Thai-owned skin whitening, anti-ageing and acne removal clinic that bases most of its treatments on laser surgery.
Opening in January this year, and since joined by the opening of a second branch in nearby Boeung Keng Kang, after five months of operation the clinic is seeing a strong trade from Cambodian men.
“We get about a hundred customers per day, half of them are men,” says Lim Sophorn, a 26-year-old consultant at Wuttisak. “Some of them are recurring customers who come to our clinic a few times per week.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Sean Gleeson and Roth Meas at [email protected]