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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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The Latin American men’s grooming sector is one of the world’s most dynamic, with the strong absolute gains of $1.4 billion over 2001–2006 expected to continue in the longer term. As a region, Latin America is appearance conscious, and it is becoming increasingly acceptable for men to spend money and time on grooming. Here, the key issue affecting growth is price—as opposed to men’s unwillingness to experiment with products or the lack of awareness found in other markets. Manufacturers must convince male consumers to spend on male-specific rather than gender neutral brands by offering price-competitive products with added benefits. Men’s grooming, however, still has a long way to go in the region. Men’s shaving and deodorants account for almost all sector sales. Men’s bath and shower products, hair care and skin care are still far from falling into mainstream usage, although skin care was the most dynamic subsector 2001–2006, with 35% growth, and hair care is also making solid gains, and from a larger base ($31 million absolute growth over this period compared to skin care’s $6 million).

Brazil and Mexico dominate the Latin American market, accounting for 43% and 20%, respectively, of total value sales in 2006. In Brazil, manufacturers are trying to encourage sales in the less penetrated men’s grooming subsectors with products better adapted to male habits—simple application products and suitable fragrances. Natura’s Ekos Mate Verde Cabelo e Corpo, a combined shampoo/body wash in a portable pack, is one example, and the brand’s fragrance line is already established.

In the better developed deodorants subsector, the migration of consumers from cheaper pump products, the most commonly used format, to more expensive sprays and roll-on products is a key stimulus to sales. However, keeping prices down will also be essential for future growth. At present, male-specific products cost twice as much as similar female products, negatively impacting sales.

Across Latin America, the key to growing sales is to persuade consumers to trade up to more premium razors, blades and deodorants while also stimulating usage of the less developed subsectors. Celebrity endorsements can help, especially ones that link a product to something “manly,” such as sports. Soccer star David Beckham’s collaboration with Gillette, for example, has helped promote both the latest razor and blade designs and penetrate pre- and post-shave subsectors.

Eastern Promise

Asia-Pacific may present the most promising growth prospects for men’s grooming brands. The market is large in terms of population, and is comprised of both affluently developed and fast developing countries. Asia-Pacific culture also tends to emphasize the importance of grooming—although, for men, this currently simply means good hygiene and a tidy appearance. There is not yet established demand for more sophisticated men’s grooming products, such as skin care.