Author: Louise Barfield – Head of Marketing, Two by Two Design
In today’s highly-fragmented beauty care industry, populated by big budget brands and niche players, the growth of male grooming has spawned many a start-up in areas such as shaving, skincare and beard management. It seems men are the next big thing in caring for and enhancing their looks, and brands are emerging from the lab on what feels like a weekly basis.
However, in the rush to put forward a man-friendly moisturiser or a predictable celebrity-endorsed grooming range, are we misunderstanding the mindset and shopping expectations of men? Where are the real opportunities to meet the needs of this changing and multi-faceted category?
Beauty from within?
When considering the concept of ‘male beauty’, most of us immediately think of immaculate celebrities or vloggers who project their own brand all over Instagram. From ‘manscara’ makeup to body beautiful gym shots, it’s easy to assume that men have just become vainer and need to preen, preserve and protect to face the world. For me, this is just scratching the surface.
More than skin deep – three trends
Let’s consider three market ‘signals’ that indicate that male grooming is an area that has deeper roots of behavioural change and a shift in attitudes that go further than the bathroom cabinet – and provoke debate about how to position and market to men in 2018 and beyond.
Firstly, consider the Wellness trend that encompasses veganism, nutrition, yoga and alternative therapies. Male consumers who lean towards this attitude of ‘eat well, live well’, don’t separate their grooming or skincare needs from this mindset and are more likely to seek out brands that embody the same principles: from ethical ingredients and natural therapies, to plant-based skincare and sustainable sourcing.
Secondly, men’s lives, and careers are increasingly shifting to new ideas of what it is to be a man. Losing their traditional, linear structure of ‘learn, earn and burn-out’ and are arguably becoming more life stage oriented. As men in their 20s, 30s and 40s take on greater child rearing responsibility, for example, or pursue portfolio careers and interests, their shopping habits are likely to change. With less focus on property and car ownership, the ‘usual’ status symbols associated with success are giving way to more experiential and social consumption. From hipsters to entrepreneurial side hustles, male identity is being remoulded.
Thirdly, merely applying a ‘For Men’ label to a moisturiser is no longer enough. The growth of more discerning products for men and the fact that Mintel reports that 47% of men bought a beauty treatment for themselves in the last year*, shows that there is a much more diverse and complex set of needs amongst the male consumer in beautycare and wellness.
From mental health and stress management to bespoke products, the rise of personalisation in the industry plays to the demand for a more data-driven and ‘smarter’ set of solutions. Those brands that combine digital recognition, social media interaction and high customer service levels will win the race for the male consumer, leaving brands behind that don’t grasp the new normal.
In a market that Euromonitor predicts to be worth in the region of US$60.7 billion by 2020, isn’t it time to take this category seriously?
Louise Barfield is Head of Marketing at Two by Two Design and will present on “Is the beauty industry doing enough to engage men” at in-cosmetics Global on Tuesday 17 April from 13.15-14.00.