Brands that invest in grooming products exclusively for the men’s market stand to increase spending levels in this under-developed but fast-growing sector, according to research seen by Marketing Week.
Cult ITV2 programme The Only Way Is Essex has not only put fake tan and big hair on the grooming agenda for women, but it has brought men’s beauty routines into the spotlight as well.
Its male stars are no strangers to fake tan, a wax or even a manicure. Research exclusive to Marketing Week shows that men having a ’beauty regime’ is becoming the norm, as an increasing number use more products and treatments to keep them looking good.
In the survey of 1,000 UK men aged between 18 and 64, conducted by SPA Future Thinking, 53% say grooming is expected of them. Meanwhile, 34% say having a beauty routine would improve their love lives and 25% agree it would enhance their careers.
SPA Future Thinking research director Will Ullstein says this is good news for marketers in the industry: “The survey shows there is a latent demand for products and new ways for men to be marketed to.
“Men want to shop and do take pride in their appearance. Manufacturers and retailers should meet that need. Some are doing a great job but others need to raise their game.”
Adidas, Gillette and Hugo Boss are the most recognised men’s grooming brands, with a respective awareness of 93%, 85% and 83%. But while these are the most well-known brands, they are not the most used.
Adidas falls to third place in terms of brands used most often, coming behind Lynx (26%) and Gillette (18%). Hugo Boss and Boots own-brand products make up the bottom of the top 10 most used brands, at just 2% each.
“The likes of Adidas and Hugo Boss aren’t known for beauty products specifically, while Lynx is out and out male and has fantastic advertising campaigns,” reasons Ullstein.
Brands that are overtly female top the list of those that men would never consider using, with Maybelline, Max Factor and Elizabeth Arden in the top three spots at 8%, 7%, and 7% respectively.
Despite this, they still rank highly in terms of brand awareness, at 60%, 74% and 54% respectively. However, both Daniel Giles from skincare brand Super and Simon Duffy from organic business Bulldog point out that having feminine packaging, names and scents are a turn-off for men (see The Frontline, right).
The most popular products men use are shampoo, body spray, shower gel and fragrances, with more than two-thirds of those surveyed using these regularly. Meanwhile, half of those surveyed say they have used hand cream, 42% moisturiser, a third have tried lip balm and 23% hair spray. More than 40% use some kind of skin care product and of these, 27% claim they actually have a skincare regime.
Younger men spend more per month than their older counterparts, with 18to 34-year-olds parting with £14.60, compared with £10.50 for 55to 64-year-olds.
“This doesn’t surprise me because older men are perhaps more settled in their relationships and in the tried and tested products they use in their repertoire,” comments Ullstein.
But what might be surprising is the spending gap between gay and straight men £16.19 per month compared with £13.19. But he warns against drawing too many conclusions.
“You have to be careful about stereotyping. Not all gay men live in Brighton and attend Pride,” Ullstein stresses. He, too, makes reference to The Only Way Is Essex and to an increase in male celebrities undergoing beauty treatments paving the way for straight men to do the same. As Bulldog’s Duffy points out, looking after your appearance is becoming a universally appealing activity.
Having said that, the list of beauty treatments and products men say they would never consider using is telling in terms of what men define their grooming needs to be. While 78% say they would never use make-up, 66% say they would never use self-tan, 61% wax strips, 60% permanent hair colour and 45% anti-ageing cream.
This shows how men see grooming products as addressing a need, while women may have a more recreational or experimental approach, suggests Ullstein. “When it comes to grooming products, men are very practical. They want something that solves, for example, dry skin.”
Hair loss in particular, he adds, is a problem that many men would like to address, with the rejection of this type of treatment being relatively low in the survey’s results. “Male baldness has been taboo in previous years, as it has been a very sensitive and personal issue,” says Ullstein. “But the use of hair replacement treatment by cricketers Graham Gooch and Shane Warne, and more recently footballer Wayne Rooney, has helped to get it out in the open.”
Ullstein points out that spending patterns in this market might appear uninspiring, with 59% spending the same as two years ago, 17% less and just 24% more. But both Super and Bulldog are growing their ranges in response to insights that relate to male shopping behaviour.
That shopping behaviour includes the fact that 63% of men admit they buy their grooming products at the supermarket, but 47% say they would be interested in a dedicated “manshop” an outlet selling only male grooming products.
“Certain brands have a large enough range to go down the route of a branded shop, but I think there would be greater appeal for the equivalent of a Boots for Men concept,” says Ullstein.
“If there was to be a manshop, they would have to be careful in terms of what it would look like and how it was presented. It would have to be simple, direct and rational.”
If, as the survey suggests, 86% of men buy their grooming products at the same time as grocery shopping, it may indicate that the manshop idea might be best executed within a supermarket environment. And with just 44% of men acknowledging that they have a skincare regime, it could be the development of supermarket ranges that firmly places male beauty brands into the mainstream.
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Bulldog Natural Grooming
The idea that you can take something that has traditionally been sold to women and repackaged as a ’for men’ version has been holding back the development of the male skincare market. The insight from the survey that men reject more female brands like Elizabeth Arden, Max Factor and Maybelline might reflect this. I associate L’Oréal and Nivea with my mum.
Before we started this business, there was nothing created by men for men. We set out to be masculine. We don’t do female products and never will.
There are too many products in some ranges and I don’t think it needs to be that complicated. It’s very important for things to be straightforward. This is how Bulldog tries to separate itself from women’s brands.
We are seeing the market grow. We don’t make products such as deodorant, hand cream or lip balm, but we have seen enormous growth in moisturiser over the last year, and the survey reflects its popularity. That’s testament to the fact that when given an option that works and men feel like it’s a brand for them, they become loyal and tell their friends.
There is more permission to use these products than there has been before. Perhaps it was surprising to see that straight men spend nearly as much as gay men, but I think these products are just becoming universal in appeal. Skincare is relevant to anyone and these products don’t need to be expensive and niche at a £30 price point.
The idea of a ’manshop’ is interesting, but I think most men want to buy these products when they are doing their everyday shopping and don’t want to make a special trip. So 63% of men saying they buy their grooming products from the supermarket doesn’t surprise me. It shows that these products are becoming more mainstream and moving away from being a niche offering.
I think there is going to be a hardcore group of men that is going to be increasingly adopting more traditionally female routines, but I think in the mainstream, moisturiser and face wash will have enormous growth.
We are always looking at natural alternatives to conventional products so we wouldn’t rule out launching new things over the next six months that are more “expert” type products.
Super (part of the Dr Perricone skin and healthcare range)
I think men might be more vain than women. Men are very aware of brands, and have specific concerns, such as balding or razor burn.
The market is small but it’s fast growing. Part of the challenge for men is finding products that are gender-neutral. There is a frustration with the feminisation of skincare, as the survey results reflect.
We have identified that men have three main concerns our number one seller for men is eye cream, number two is acne treatment, and number three is our omega moisturiser.
Men want to see three or four products that they need to use. Guys are not interested in six products to make them look beautiful. As we grow Super we are looking into developing a capsule line for men, including specific products such as shave balms.
We have tried to be a gender-neutral brand so we appeal to both men and women. In our Super flagship store, about 20% of our customers are men and about 25% of our online and in-store customers are men.
Our male customer tends to be between 25 and 40 years old. We do see some gay men but predominantly our male customer is straight.
Even though the survey says most men prefer to buy their grooming products from the supermarket, I believe men are more sophisticated than this. As for the idea of the ’manshop’ the survey looks at, it makes sense if you go back to how men used to shop, for example, in the men’s barber or at the haberdashers. I agree that the male customer is often neglected but I don’t think we would be part of this kind of retail environment, as we want to drive a more shared experience.
Next year we will be looking at targeting men, but at the moment our priority is to focus on the female customer. However, our new campaign features guys and girls because showing that shared experience is important.
Perhaps the most famous male grooming campaign in the past year is the multiple Pitch Blades Award-winning Old Spice series of commercials, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, by Wieden+Kennedy.
Although the brand does not appear in SPA Future Thinking’s research, the ad is a perfect example of how FMCG giants have targeted marketing to fit in with the newfound boom in male grooming.
In case you were living under a rock, the Old Spice commercial was first a YouTube success, followed by a TV ad, and then a massive social media response campaign that got the whole world talking.
What made it a success was its new approach to rejuvenating an old brand. Its idealistic stance means the brand suddenly became alluring to young and old alike in a unisex way.
In the social media element of the campaign, W+K had the male model on standby against a green screen to record instant, polished video responses to tweets and Facebook comments.
Thus, the concept of a brand message swiftly became a brand conversation, back and forth, across multiple platforms and media, which helped it to scoop six Blades Awards on 8 September for creative and digital advertising.
According to brand owner Procter & Gamble, after its initial launch, the campaign increased Old Spice sales by 27% over six months since launching (year-on-year) and Christmas sales were up 107% from the social responses campaign work. Old Spice is now the number one body wash brand for men globally.
Web traffic around Old Spice has gone through the roof conservative estimates suggest it increased by nearly 1000%. The ad has had more than 35 million YouTube hits.
The consumer behaviour highlighted in SPA Future Thinking’s research is reflected in Old Spice’s rejuvenated brand image. Others should learn from its example.
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