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A New Pampering Culture Fuels Opportunity in Men’s Grooming

By: Rob Walker, Euromonitor International
Posted: November 1, 2011, from the November 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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A spendthrift Generation Y also fueled heftier investments in advertising, for example in leading men’s magazines. It is now common for men’s grooming products to be supported by celebrity endorsements, something that was once only visible in women’s beauty marketing.

The shift is indicative of a growing male pampering consumption culture, even at a time of weaker discretionary spending power in developed markets. Sales of men’s skin care products, for example, generated compound annual growth of around 9% between 2008 and 2011, with Nivea, L’Oréal Paris and Biotherm—three global brand leaders—each generating significant new business. According to Euromonitor International, the global retail market for men’s skin care climbed to more than $2 billion in 2010, compared to less than $1 billion in 2003. Crucially, young men these days feel comfortable using products such as anti-agers, eye creams and energy-boosting serums. And that marks a big change from the preceding male generation.

No Safe Havens, But Male Pampering Here to Stay

As the world teeters on the edge of another economic slowdown, triggered by instability in the U.S. economy, a debt crisis in Europe and rising global commodity costs, the men’s grooming category can take solace in the fact that it not only held firm after the 2008 crisis, it actually ramped up sales across all core categories.

Rising inflation, even in key emerging markets such as China and Brazil, could make it more difficult for the operating environment next year, and leading brands will probably have to tighten margins even more in order to remain competitive. But, the emergence of a new male pampering culture is unlikely to dissolve. It is, albeit paradoxically, a spin-off from the 2008 crisis and looks set to only get stronger.