The competition to capture the hearts of male consumers has become ever-more fierce among retailers as men dip deeper into their pockets to look their best.
"The market for female consumers is already saturated, but the market for male consumers still has room to grow," said one market insider.
As more men delay getting married or choose to remain single for financial reasons, they seem to be spending more on enjoying their lives rather than making long-term financial plans. Many also appear to be put off by the burden of buying a home, meaning they are saving less and consuming more.
These trends are reflected in sales at major retailers. Hyundai Department Store opened a shop exclusively for men in its main Apgujeong branch last year, and it has been racking up monthly sales of over W100 million. Shinsegae Department Store has also seen a 17 percent rise in sales of its men's items compared to last year.
According to Interfashion Planning, a fashion consultancy, the men's accessories market in Korea has been growing by seven percent a year since 2002. Chung Seung-ki, an executive at LG Fashion, said, "As more men prefer to wear slim-fitting outfits, they find it inconvenient to put their wallets, cigarette packets or smartphones in their trouser pockets, so demand for accessories such as backpacks, briefcases and other fashion accessories is on the rise."
The market for men's cosmetics stood at W670 billion last year, despite the recession, up 13 percent from the previous year. It is expected to exceed W1 trillion this year. The industry estimates that 30 percent of customers who shop for cosmetics at department stores are men in their 40s.
Catering to these changing consumption patterns, Lotte Department Store recently opened the country's largest shop just for men at its main branch in Sogong-dong, Seoul.