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Do Men Really Care About Beauty?

By: Irina Barbalova, Euromonitor International
Posted: October 26, 2012, from the November 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

With fairly low expectations for last quarter’s sales results, all eyes are on those dynamic industry segments that have generated momentum in the past year. Alongside star performers such as nail polish and, not surprisingly, anti-agers, men’s grooming has once again come to the spotlight and seen a flurry of activity both in terms of increased marketing and advertising efforts, as well as many brands expanding their product ranges with more targeted offerings. Seemingly recession-proof, the male grooming category has demonstrated a consistent performance throughout the recent years of economic instability, having increased its global revenues by an average of 6% per annum since 2006, to reach close to $33 billion in 2011.

Sales of Toiletries Overtaking Shaving

Global sales are almost evenly split between men’s shaving and men’s toiletries, and both achieved stable growth in 2011. This marks a shift, as back in 2000 men’s shaving accounted for 60% of total men’s grooming sales. The landscape is gradually changing, however, with men’s toiletries predicted to take over in 2013 and contribute double the revenue of men’s shaving in the period between 2012 to 2016. Deodorants still lead toiletries in absolute value terms, with a large reliance on Latin America; however, skin care has proven the most dynamic, putting up double-digit growth in five consecutive years and adding an extra $2 billion to the global beauty market since 2006.

Global Habits Not Homogenous

Male grooming habits across the world are certainly not homogenous, with Asian men having a definitive preference for skin care products, while Brazilian men’s spend on deodorants tops the world—and represents a spend double that of North America. One common factor that defines category dynamics, however, is the fact that men, either urged by employment instability or greater media impetus, have found the routine of looking after their appearance is becoming both regular and appealing.

Furthermore, hectic lifestyles coupled with increasing junk food consumption means that men have less time and more skin-related issues to tackle. A range of multi-functional products inspired from women’s skin care have been launched to target specific issues for men, such as anti-aging, whitening, anti-acne and sensitivity. An increase in marketing and advertising influenced from the female market, with celebrity endorsements, such L’Oréal’s “Men Expert” campaign in the U.K. featuring Pierce Brosnan, has also boosted the men’s skin care segment.

It is still to be seen whether a significant proportion of men are prepared to search for and spend on such products—or enough men to swivel the category into a double-digit growth curve. Nonetheless, there are some parallels to be drawn with other associated consumer industries, which indicate a shift in consumption patterns. Looking at men’s apparel, for example, the market is undergoing a marked revival and outpacing growth of its female counterpart—notably, rapid-growth markets such as South Korea and China are seeing stronger per capita spend in men’s designer outerwear compared to that of women’s. Maybe not surprisingly, the same markets also rank highest in men’s skin care expenditure. So while not a true testament, some clear assumptions are safe to be made as to the changing buying habits and attitudes toward fashion and beauty among men, particularly in the premium segment.

Looking at key future prospects, men’s deodorant will continue to lead in absolute growth terms, increasing revenues almost as much as the whole of the total men’s shaving by 2016. Beauty companies looking to get a stronger foothold into men’s skin care should take lessons from the power players in men’s deodorants in terms of how they have diversified product ranges and tailored their marketing tactics to the typical male consumer.

Furthermore, revenue growth opportunities in men’s grooming go far beyond traditional products. As a recent Euromonitor International survey among young men aged 15–29 suggests, the key factor to a happy life is “being healthy,” but more interestingly, more than a third of those interviewed confirmed that among other health-related activities they take supplements at least once a week. The scope to innovate and diversify in the health and wellness environment, both among beauty players as well as food and drink manufacturers, is immense and one to be explored. There is still much untapped potential to develop ingestible products, be it fortified drinks or dietary supplements with additional beauty attributes, and, more importantly, those that target specific concerns such as hair loss, problem skin or weight loss.

Irina Barbalova is the global head of beauty and personal care research for Euromonitor International.

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