By Suki Kramer
Suki Skin Care
Forget about your daily shave, sweep of deodorant and a couple slaps of Old Spice, for men who want to look good, and who want to keep their women happy these days, there’s a whole lot more going on, and a whole new world of skincare, grooming and even cosmetics regimens to adapt to…today’s daily routine is not your father’s, that’s for sure, and I know many women are personally grateful! I’m happy to have my man “mowing” the nose and ear hairs, shaving the chest and back, and trimming back the…ok I’m over-sharing, but you know, going the extra mile. Heck, women have been doing it for their men for years!
And, with new packaging, targeted marketing strategies and formulations specifically designed for a man’s needs, it’s a market that’s booming. No longer the narrowly defined domain of “metrosexuals,” sales of men's grooming products will hit $3.2 billion by 2016, up from an estimated $2.6 billion this year, according to Chicago-based research firm Mintel.
More and more skin care firms are creating and rebranding product lines specifically for men. What sells? What do you think?
Masculine names of course! Think words like “power” “lab” “fuel” and “urban.” And packaging that looks decidedly guy-friendly. Pink and gold are out, and black, steel grey and blue are in. As much as it would be nice to imagine a world without gender stereotypes, it’s not here yet, and many (but not all) men are wary of venturing into women’s skincare and cosmetics. For starters, it’s a staggering selection for men who are just dipping their toes into taking care of their skin (or admitting they do). And, most men just don’t have the comfort level to stride into the cosmetics area of any store (most actually getting at least their initial products from the women in their lives). Savvy retailers are starting to move men’s grooming into the men’s accessories section, where guys already feel at ease. As for the product lines themselves, brands are branching out far beyond aftershave and deodorant—there are “just for men” powders, tinted moisturizers, concealers and anti-aging serums. However, as the staff at the women’s online magazine Jezebel found out, dudes just aren’t comfortable with the “M” word (makeup, sssh). The women applied tinted moisturizer to their male colleagues at Deadspin, the sports magazine, and took before and after photos. Check out the results.
Why the growth in men’s grooming now?
Skincare brands started to pay attention to the growth in men’s grooming during the recession—with increased competition in the workplace where men needed to look their best (welcome to our world!) Mature men, in particular, stepped up their game, in order to hold their own against younger job seekers and colleagues. As for younger men, they’ve grown up with moms more conscious about their skincare and who demand more from their products—in terms of clinically proven results and quality of ingredients. There’s also a correlation between the rise in men’s grooming and the spike in sales of personal appliances, such as electric razors and trimmers. Men want to look good, and now, they are more grooming tools than ever to help them keep facial hair (and, yup thank goodness, nose and ear hair, too) neatly trimmed.
The opportunities ahead
While poised for exponential growth, the men’s grooming category is barely out of its infancy. According to research firm NPD Group, only 1 in 4 guys use some kind of facial skin-care product, and male shoppers tend to be more brand loyal than women. Which means that there is still plenty of new territory for brands to stake. In terms of demographics, the most enthusiastic users tend to be men under 35 or over 50. What do they want? Pretty much what women want—products that are simple, practical and effective. The difference is that want products that are just for them, or at least have them in mind. That’s not to say that men don’t start by borrowing their wife’s concealer, but eventually they want their own grooming regimen. Does it need to be a strictly “guys only” line? Maybe, but perhaps more important than the exclusivity of the line is the recognition that men’s skin is different from women’s. Men share some of women’s skin concerns—including acne, rosacea, and aging—but men also have skin issues that are uniquely their own, like razor burn and ingrown facial hair.
Smart brands understand that these new skincare users need education—about what ingredients work, and why; which products to use, and how to use them; and how to take care of our skin from the inside out (including whole foods, probiotics and supplements). Skincare lines that develop strategies for talking directly to men about their specific concerns will be the ones to win the loyalty of these new male consumers. Sure, masculine packaging and buzzwords will help, but for the kind of man who washes his face with soap and walks out the door to the office, he’ll need guidance. Men want to look good, they just need to feel comfortable shopping for these products—whether it’s online or in the store—so they can gain confidence in how to use skin and body products for maximum results.
About the Author
Suki Kramer is the founder, president and formulator of suki, inc. skin care as well as a skin care expert for assorted media.