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Men’s Grooming: Worth the Hype?

By: Briony Davies
Posted: December 10, 2007, from the December 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Age is also a factor in uptake; the young, having been brought up with the idea, are more accepting of grooming regimes and receptive to new products, while older men are more brand loyal and used to a more basic daily hygiene regimen. While this demographic divide is proving hard to bridge, manufacturers are throwing their efforts into the task, and high-end labels such as Aramis Lab Series and Clinique Skin Supplies for Men have already successfully cracked this market.

Given the impact of demographics on product uptake, manufacturers must consider the needs of their target consumer group on a market by market basis; products cannot simply be launched on a global platform. For example, due to the conservative grooming habits of Indian males, men’s skin care is unlikely to take off without careful consideration. Most male consumers will not want to be spotted buying a skin care product, as the use of cosmetics continues to be regarded as a female habit. Creating awareness by using a celebrity spokesman to demonstrate that grooming for men is acceptable and that it serves more of a functional than cosmetic benefit is one way to change this perception.

Room for Growth in Leading Markets

The concept and culture of men’s grooming is most developed in the mature economies of Western Europe, North America and Australasia. Men in some Western European markets have traditionally followed a daily grooming regimen similar to that of women, and the trend is spreading fast throughout the region. Given that men’s grooming is relatively undeveloped compared to other cosmetics and toiletries sectors, these developed markets returned strong growth figures over the 2001–2006 period, even during the economic downturn in the U.S. However, while the sector as a whole is not mature, men’s razors and blades and deodorants are approaching maturity in these markets, and the challenge now is to expand penetration to non-core consumers and add value.

In North America, mass-market, sport- and sex-orientated brands are targeting teenage boys and younger men, while premium brands, such as Gucci Pour Homme and Aramis, are aimed at aging but more affluent men. Manufacturers are also trying to generate usage of bath and shower products and hair and skin care. There are definite signs of increasing sophistication in this market, with natural and organic products coming to market and “doctor” brands appealing to the functional needs of men.

In pre- and post-shave, the key word is “sensitive.” Nivea for Men is a good example. The brand has grown rapidly in recent years, and, as of December 2005, offered a sensitive post-shave balm, shaving cream, moisturizing lotion and face wash. Key growth opportunities lie in adding beneficial skin care properties to shave products and in continuing to cultivate acceptance of nontraditional subsectors—such as men’s skin care and bath and shower products—via advertising and editorial coverage in men’s magazines.

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