UK men clean up their act

The UK is the fastest-growing market for men’s toiletries in Europe. Retailers are driving growth with new product development and promotions

Datamonitor’s latest research into the male toiletries sector found that the UK is the largest market in Europe for male toiletries and the fastest growing, surging by 35.5 per cent from &£431.5m in 1995 to &£580.4m this year.

One of the factors fuelling this growth, says Datamonitor, is the rise of men’s magazines over the past five years.

These titles have a strong readership – EMAP’s FHM attracts over 700,000 readers a month – and with information on products, grooming techniques and fashions trends, male consumers are being made more aware of their appearance.

Another telling factor is the rising number of men visiting clinics for cosmetic surgery in the UK. Five years ago, men accounted for just five per cent of patients. This figure is now closer to 40 per cent.

Male skincare products have seen exceptional growth over the past four years. Skincare has seen an average annual growth rate of 93.7 per cent, although this is from a relatively small base. The male skincare market is the smallest yet potentially the most lucrative of all the male toiletry categories.

The market is still in its infancy and growth has been driven by new product launches from companies such as Nivea. Within the skincare market, cleansers take the majority of sales, which have grown from &£100,000 in 1995 to &£1.5m this year.

The haircare sector for men has grown at an average annual rate of 18.1 per cent. The UK is Europe’s most developed haircare market and is worth &£23.6m, split between &£16m on styling agents and &£7.1m on hair colorants. Although the styling agents market for men has grown by 15.6 per cent, the market remains underdeveloped and unisex products tend to dominate.

Sales of men’s hair colorants, however, have grown by an average of 24.9 per cent from &£2.8m in 1995 to this year’s &£7.1m. Colour range Féria from L’Oréal has been a driver of growth and holds about ten per cent of the market, up from two per cent last year.

The UK shaving preparation market is the largest in Europe, with sales surging from &£58.8m in 1995 to &£75.5m this year.

In personal hygiene products, deodorant sales have increased at an average annual rate of 7.1 per cent compared with 8.8 per cent for shower gels. The UK is by far the biggest deodorant market in Europe, and was driven by the market-leading product Elida Fabergé’s Lynx brand.

With manufacturers and retailers keen to capitalise on this lucrative and expanding sector, distribution and promotion have taken centre stage. Retailers have played a pivotal role in driving the development of male toiletries and new retail concepts are rapidly being tested.

For example, Boots launched a men-only shop in Edinburgh this month. The store provides a wide range of male products, including health and fitness products, magazines, and services such as wet shaves and facial and head massages. One step removed from a male-only store is the male zone within a store, dedicated to all the cosmetics and toiletries products which target male consumers.

The interest in male-oriented toiletries spans different sectors. High street retailers and department stores are keen on the concept for mass market and premium brands. Superdrug, in partnership with Physio sport, has launched its Male Oasis concept and Boots is testing the male zone idea in Bristol. In the premium brand sector, the Bodyzone from Harrods is a one-stop grooming area.

Repeat purchase is likely to become the next major focus and manufacturers are aiming to retain customers through loyalty cards. Boots is developing a separate loyalty card aimed specifically at men, which is more masculine in design and style and offers rewards tailored to men, such as tickets for football matches.

While the male toiletries market is attracting high levels of investment in the form of product development and promotion, understanding the exact breakdown of the consumer base will prove vital. Men are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their purchasing decisions.

Datamonitor predicts the biggest challenge facing manufacturers and retailers is to identify specific male consumer segments and market products and services accordingly.

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