Men discard their dirty habits

Sales of men’s toiletries in the UK are expected to reach 557m this year, according to a new report by market research company Mintel.

The study, called “Men’s Grooming Habits”, shows aftershaves and cologne account for 48 per cent of total turnover. But recent sales expansion has come from newer categories, such as bodysprays, haircare and skincare, as a result of men’s growing acceptance and extended use of a wider range of products.

The majority of men spend less than 25 minutes on personal grooming every morning. Only 11 per cent of respondents spend less than five minutes, while ten per cent claim to spend between 26 and 45 minutes.

Although a fifth of male consumers say they enjoy shopping for toiletries, 39 per cent claim to enjoy trying out new products, which implies that the current shopping environment does not cater for men.

Men overwhelmingly reject the type of selling techniques which have typified department stores, as 42 per cent claim they prefer to browse at a counter without pressure, and 25 per cent claim they do not feel they need any advice.

James McCoy, Mintel market analyst, says: “It is still the functional products, such as shampoo, deodorants and soap, that are widely used by men but more discretionary products such as styling aids and skincare are regarded as too sophisticated by many men.

“Younger men, aged 24 and under, are most likely to use a wider range of products. They enjoy experimenting with new products and are inclined to spend longer than 25 minutes on their grooming in the morning.”

Since 1993, the overall men’s toiletries market has grown above inflation, reaching 535m in 1997, with estimated sales of 557m for 1998. It should be noted that this performance has been achieved despite the nine per cent downturn in the key 15 to 24 age group over 1992-97.

A major contributor to sales growth over the period has been men’s changing attitudes towards personal appearance and grooming in general, which has been fuelled by the increasing number of new men’s style magazines covering health and grooming issues.

A survey of 939 men carried out for Mintel shows Gillette is the most widely recognised men’s toiletries brand, named by almost one in two men, which reflects its dominant position in shaving and toiletry requisites. Gillette’s strong heritage in shaving has recently been reinforced in its generic advertising campaign “The best a man can get”, linking razors, shaving products and its integrated grooming range, Series.

A third of respondents claim to use Lynx, the original men’s body-spray brand, which consists of an integrated personal grooming range. The launch of Lynx Systeme in 1994 extended the Lynx name into shaving and skincare, with the aim of broadening the brand franchise, but the range was withdrawn early in 1998.

Old Spice is long-established, yet its positioning as a traditional, older man’s brand has prevented it from achieving similar levels of use to Lynx, for example. Lynx, by contrast, is targeted at young men and teenagers, who buy bodysprays as a cheap alternative to fragrance. Procter & Gamble recently sought to rejuvenate Old Spice with the launch of a new variant in 1997, called White Water, which builds on the original brand’s surfing theme.

Wilkinson Sword and Bic, both razor/blades, are the other brands on the market. Like Gillette, Wilkinson Sword has been highly active in terms of new product development, although it has not been able to match Gillette’s ad support for its brands. Bic relies on below-the-line promotional activity rather than heavyweight advertising for its value-for-money disposable razors.

Young men have strong views on the positioning of men’s brands, although this appears to mellow as they get older. In particular, non-fragranced mass brands, such as Brylcreem and Wella ShockWaves, are held in low regard by male teenagers, although their age/user characteristics are clearly oriented towards the younger consumer.

However, neither brand scores highly when it comes to overall brand use, suggesting that poor brand imagery may have prevented them from attaining higher sales volumes among their key target group. Footballer David Beckham’s endorsement of Brylcreem is an attempt to address this issue.

By contrast Lynx and Gillette are held in high regard across almost every age group, indicating that they have successfully achieved the right brand imagery. This is most readily demonstrated by the very low level of brand rejection, with only seven per cent and two per cent of the sample claiming they would not be seen dead using Lynx or Gillette respectively.

The respective brands’ advertising strategy has no doubt been a key feature of its success. Gillette itself has been at the forefront of new product development, which in turn has helped to build the brand.

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