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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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Japan dominates Asia-Pacific, accounting for more than 51% of regional men’s sales in 2006. It is also an anomaly in terms of subsector sales, with hair care far outstripping sales of razors and blades. Coloring hair, particularly to cover gray, has been popular among all Japanese consumers for many years. Japan is also not a particularly hirsute culture. Hair care and razors and blades are set to dominate sales to 2011, and it will become essential to stimulate growth by developing the smaller subsectors as razors and blades reach maturity.

Multifunctionality is one way to achieve, stimulate and maintain further growth. This trend appeals to Japanese men, who would prefer one product to carry out as many functions as possible. New ingredients, especially natural ones, could also prove popular, as could convenient packaging and portable designs. Because pensioners make up an increasing portion of the population, products aimed at older men are likely to become more prevalent to 2010. Products such as wrinkle treatments are likely to do well.

South Korea, India and China are the only other men’s grooming markets of significant value in Asia-Pacific—although the sector is also beginning to generate sales in Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Taiwan. South Korea is quite developed in terms of the metrosexual trend, and the emerging men’s deodorants and skin care subsectors are the key drivers of growth. The influx of new skin care product formats such as men’s face packs and masks is further stimulating sales. The evolution of functional skin care—those with whitening, antiaging and sunscreen ingredients—is also notable. In addition, manufacturers in South Korea have successfully leveraged the equity of women’s skin care brands by extending products into the men’s market via the addition of the word “Homme” and utilizing more masculine scents and packaging. Some products even verged on cosmetics—notably Vonin The Style Photogenic, a facial brightening stick that also provides a matte finish. In India and China, awareness and usage of male-specific grooming products remains at a low level, largely restricted to the urban centers. Indian per capita expenditure in 2006 was the equivalent of $0.50, compared to $12 in Japan. Nonetheless, there are ways to grow both markets by increasing awareness and acceptance of men’s grooming via advertising and smart consumer targeting—such as offering budget-priced disposable razors in rural areas and premium products in affluent urban areas.

Optimism Reigns

Although men’s grooming has not delivered the dramatic growth heralded in 2000, Euromonitor International forecasts that the category will increase by $3.5 billion, at a global level, by 2011, and the potential offered by emerging regions is clear. In developed markets, products are becoming both increasingly segmented and sophisticated. In May 2007, U.K. supermarket chain Asda broke new ground by announcing plans to develop sunscreens containing “butch, ultra-masculine” scents—including beer. It will be the first time a mainstream label offers targeted men’s sun care. Men’s makeup line launches, however, generated the most publicity for the sector. Swedish clothing chain H&M first hit the headlines with a mascara for men in January 2007. In May, Clinique added a concealer for men to its Skin Supplies range. Self-tan is also proving to be big news in men’s grooming.

Such launches are undoubtedly raising the profile of men’s grooming products generally, but it is questionable as to whether they are making use more acceptable. Attitudes take a long time to change, and Euromonitor International predicts that real growth in men’s grooming products is a longer-term prospect. It will not be until the generations of men that have been brought up with the notion of the three-step facial care regime, for example, that the men’s toiletries subsector will begin to catch up to shaving products in value sales terms. Manufacturers can make immediate gains, however, by offering male-specific versions of already accepted toiletries.