Men Are Men

When I joined GCI magazine in 2005, reaching male consumers was among the hottest topics. Men were elusive game for the beauty industry, and terms were coined to narrow the segment—metrosexuals giving way to “übersexuals.” The new popularity and acceptance of men’s products was attributed to media and changing lifestyles, and ranges and products were developed for a variety of conditions and concerns. It was a given that “whateversexuals” were a potential gold mine, and Euromonitor International, in December 2007, noted that men’s grooming had been billed as an important source of growth for the beauty industry for more than a decade, but the segment had yet failed to deliver gains as large as anticipated. At that time the market was valued at $21.7 billion, though accounting for only 8% of value sales, and men’s makeup and unlocking potential in developing markets were opined as the way forward.

By December 2008, Mintel Beauty Innovation reported a dramatic increase in the number of men’s products launched during the year. The firm had tracked more than 500 new men’s personal care products in the U.S., up from 375 launches in 2007. Globally, Mintel recorded more than 3,600 men’s beauty product launches in 2008.

Today, worth $26 billion globally, the segment still only accounts for 8% of the total market, though it seems the industry as a whole has recognized that men are men. Although grooming habits are evolving, strategies to grow the men’s segment run parallel to strategies employed in other segments, and completely revamping men’s product vocabulary and working toward a wholesale change in their habits isn’t the most effective way to increase or speed gains in the segment.

A pattern emerged, whereby the segment mimics trends in the wider market as a whole. And as in other segments, introducing natural expansions/evolutions of products already accepted by men and capitalizing on the spending power of consumers in emerging markets have a much better chance at succeeding than creating whole new product categories in the segment.

Now, new men’s product launches step beyond the basics of showering, shaving and deodorizing—though they don’t tend to stray from the root of those basics. These new classes of product provide tangible benefits based on appearance and specific body needs—Terri Goldstein, founder, The Goldstein Group, noted in her presentation, “The Science of On-shelf Seduction—Brand Packaging” at October’s In-Store Marketing Expo, that men want to achieve results and are “mission” based when shopping. Further, product appearance and its packaging are critical to targeting men. Euromonitor corroborates, noting that the functionality and ingredients of male-specific products are almost identical to the general versions; the difference is in the packaging and the way the products are marketed.

So, as we approach 2010, I don’t think we can consider men elusive any longer. It’s clear men want products that make them look and feel good. Perhaps those wants had simply been muddied, and we’re just beginning to clear the waters.

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