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L'Oreal annual report goes metrosexual

Written by: Staff

PARIS, Apr 8 (Reuters) Reflecting the changing face of fashion, L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics company, for the first time published an annual report with a male model on its front cover.

''Our market has numerous reservoirs of growth,'' chairman and outgoing chief executive Lindsay Owen-Jones wrote in an introduction to shareholders.

Cosmetics firms everywhere are focusing on the potential in well-groomed men -- sometimes dubbed ''metro-sexuals''.

According to L'Oreal -- 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'Oreal wrote.

Sales of L'Oreal 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 percent, it said.

L'Oreal 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 skincare, the men's products market is growing rapidly, and ... the rate of expansion could be at least 3 times as fast as the rest of the cosmetics market,'' it said.

Reuters PR GC0906

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