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A Man's World: The Male Personal Care Market



Now that the ice has been broken in the men's grooming category, new products and tools have turned this niche market into a top contender.



Published November 9, 2005
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A Man


Marketing to men has been big news in recent years in the personal care industry, and it's no wonder: according to industry experts, product sales in the once-niche category have reached $3.5 billion. Though still a modest number when compared to women's personal care sales, marketing companies have reported that comparative growth in the men's grooming segment is outpacing women's products.

The reasons are twofold: men's personal care is less saturated and therefore has more potential for growth, and men are taking a much more targeted approach to personal grooming than in the past, according to professionals contacted by Happi.
"Today's men are more comfortable with grooming and with looking good than in the past," commented James Fogg, director of marketing, American Crew, New York, NY. "Ten years ago it was difficult for a guy to even ask for a specific shampoo; skin products and even many hair care products would have been way too much of a stretch."

Zirh Skin Nutrition focuses on a prestige clientele with its lineup of skin care products for men. A full range including hair, skin and shaving products is available.
By comparison, today's man knows what he wants to achieve in personal care and is not afraid to ask for it, according to Mr. Fogg. "Men are starting to use conditioners and will ask specifically for styling, shaving and skin products," he insisted. "They are starting to understand the process of cleansing, toning and moisturizing and are more choosy about what they buy."

Generation X's exploratory attitude may have had a hand in the male grooming market boom. "We see interest in newer products predominantly among men who are just leaving college and getting into their careers," commented Catherine Lair, director of marketing, Nivea for Men. "This is the group that is most interested in grooming, in the way they look and the clothes they wear."

An urban look is currently on-trend. According to Ms. Lair, this is generally prompted by the move from college to career, which often brings young men to the city.

"Men's personal care isn't so much about vanity; it's about achieving," she opined. "Men want to take care of themselves in order to be successful in life, get what they want and achieve social acceptance in the workplace, among friends and in their love lives."

According to Mr. Fogg of American Crew, today's male consumer has the ability change or improve upon his look in a variety of ways due to the fact that male personal care is no longer a closely-guarded secret.

"In the 1950s, if you wanted to look like James Dean, you had to guess as to how he achieved that look," said Mr. Fogg. "Nobody realized that he used tons of products in his hair. But once teenagers and young men figured that out, everybody started doing it."

As a result, men's personal care was initially a slow-to-change category, and once a change was made, everyone followed suit and stuck to the new ideal. "There were just one or two basic looks for any given age group in the past," Mr. Fogg noted.

A willingness to bring styling and grooming options out into the open has unleashed a plethora of styles for men. "Today, with many different styles and looks possible, word travels much faster via word-of-mouth, the media and the internet," Mr. Fogg commented. "It has to, to keep up with the way looks and styles change in today's world."

Down to Business
Marketing to a category that is currently in transition is no easy feat, but industry professionals insist that the basics are the same regardless of age or demographics.

"Men look for simplicity, efficacy and practicality," observed Brian Robinson, executive vice president, Zirh Skin Nutrition, New York, NY, a subsidiary of Shiseido, Inc. He commented that these factors tend to be more important than price when it comes to male personal care. Zirh's goal is to be the No. 1 men's treatment brand in specialty and department stores. The company is targeting the prestige segment with heavy sampling, special events and currently, a focus on the college population.
American Crew's Gray line aids men who wish to keep and enhance their gray.

"We're looking to obtain a clientele just a little bit earlier," he revealed. "These individuals have a disposable income, and when they find something that works well for them, they tell their friends. We find that word of mouth can be just as important as marketing in informing customers of our products."

A willingness to experiment also makes the younger population the ideal future customer. "Generations X and Y have a great deal of freedom," he said. "They're into breaking down barriers and doing what they want to do. They are more comfortable approaching a counter and asking questions."

Zirh serves 450 U.S. stores and is present in 150 international locations, including Canada, the UK and Korea. The company's newest venture is a limited edition high-end skin care line; the products will be released in limited production and distribution, company executives noted.

Zirh's line includes hair care; treatment products, including facial scrubs, shaving products and under-eye creams; a full-range sun care line and as of August, a fragrance developed with Givaudan Roure which includes deodorant and soap.

The company's latest plans include Prepare, a pre-shave oil; Smooth hand and body cream; a body scrub; Hold hair gel and a clay mask, all of which have either been recently introduced or will be on shelves shortly.

"Normally, fast-growing categories run the risk of being fleeting, but men's care is a very stable market," commented Mr. Robinson. "Men's grooming is a stand-alone, growing segment. It's a category to be taken seriously."

The Fountain of Youth
Although industry professionals agree that men rely more on the action of a product than vanity in making purchases, men are not immune to the promise of a quick cosmetic fix and a more youthful appearance.

Skin care is the newest frontier in men's care, but hair coloring has been available for some time and has typically been the fastest and easiest way for men to achieve a newer, younger appearance. Recent developments have enabled men to achieve a more natural effect in covering gray, according to manufacturers.

More men than ever are eschewing gray, and for a variety of reasons. For example, according to a study conducted via the internet by Colomer's Just For Men in cooperation with National Family Opinion Research, Inc. (NFO), non-gray-haired men are viewed as more successful at dating than gray haired guys. The survey, "Great Dating," was conducted nationwide among 500 women ages 30-49 and 500 men ages 35-54. In four out of five instances, photos of the same man in dark hair vs. gray hair were selected by both men and women as appearing more attractive and "datable."

Even more interesting is the fact that of those surveyed, both men and women perceived the non-gray-haired men as more confident, suggesting that a youthful appearance influences various aspects of life and is not confined to attractiveness alone.

Luckily for men, more than 57% of women surveyed also felt that it was acceptable for men to color their gray hair. Nearly one-third of men stated that they have made changes to their hair, including hairstyle and coloring, and an additional 15% said they would be willing to do so in the future.

Combe Inc., White Plains, NY, had already carved its niche with Grecian 5 men's hair color; Just For Men is the company's update on male hair color products. Available in eight natural-looking shades, Just For Men is "not a woman's hair color hiding behind a man's name," according to the company. The product promises up to six weeks of natural-looking color and can also be used on hard-to-cover mustaches, beards and sideburns, according to company executives. The coloring takes only five minutes, is vitamin- enriched and rejuvenates the hair.

However, not all men are covering their gray, according to Mr. Fogg of American Crew. The company has developed its Gray line to cater to the man who wishes to keep, but enhance, his gray.
Fragrance is a fast-growing category in men's care. Wood Water, by Italian Cosmetic Laboratories, evokes style and elegance with its hand-crafted wooden cap and base.

"Because of the nature of graying hair, it can get dry and yellowed," Mr. Fogg said. "Our line delivers both high performance and attractiveness for the man who opts to cater to, rather than change, his gray hair."

The company's line includes a complete range of skin care, hair care and shaving products. For hair, American Crew offers a full line of shampoos, conditioners and styling products, such as texture creme, thickening lotion, pom-ade, grooming creams and sprays. Skin-friendly shave products including after-shave moisturizer, soothing herbal gels and creams, a moisturizer and herbal astringent care for the skin. In addition, the company's Classic scent is incorporated into a fragranced bar and scrub.

"With the internet, the media and magazines, there are more ideas and ways to do things today than there have ever been," said Mr. Fogg. "If a man does nothing to update his look, then he's stuck in the old mold. Men are looking for products that validate their self-image, make them feel comfortable and feel and smell appropriate."

He added that men are making their own choices more and more, rather than relying on women to make personal care purchases for them. He pointed out that prestige products are more likely to be purchased directly by discriminating consumers.

"A higher portion of department store lines tend to be purchased by women, simply because those are the customers who frequent those stores," he commented. "But in the prestige category, men are much more comfortable asking about and buying their own products. Men actually talk about grooming now, in conversation with friends, whereas 10 years ago, that would have been unheard of."

A Sensitive Subject
Marketing skin care products to a group that is still more apt to tough things out rather than speaking up about personal care is a balancing act, but manufacturers are getting closer to the mark. Nivea For Men was one of the first to address skin sensitivity, while maintaining a feel that was comfortable to consumers, in an all-inclusive line.

Nivea For Men includes shaving gels; aftershave balms in a non-watery, emulsion formula; a double-action face wash; a daily wash; a face scrub and a moisturizing lotion with SPF 4. The aftershave balm comes in a choice of mild or sensitive formulations, and all Nivea for Men products are skin-caring and contain a pleasant fragrance, according to company executives.
"We have been in the top 10 in men's shaving products, even though Edge and Gillette, two of the best-selling men's care products, are there," said Catherine Lair, director of marketing, Nivea For Men. "We've become a big player in a very short amount of time."

Ms. Lair concurred with her contemporaries on the importance of functionality in men's products. "Our customers are looking for products that are going to work, and that are going to solve a clear-cut problem," she said. "For instance, foams were initially available, and they worked, but could be messy. When gels came out, men found that they were more convenient and easier to spread on the skin; they just made shaving easier."

She added that skin irritation is a universal problem when shaving daily or every other day. "Basically, each time you shave, you irritate the skin," she pointed out. "If you look under a microscope at shaved skin, you will see tiny cuts and marks of irritation. But if you put on a balm afterward, it's going to soothe and moisturize the skin. With the balm, men are able to alleviate the pain of shaving."

Ms. Lair opined that bells and whistles have little influence in the men's personal care market. "Men are very sensible," she said. "You can't lie to them, and you can't appeal to them from an emotional point of view as you can with female consumers. The product must be functional and easy."

Honeybee Gardens is also addressing the issue of sensitivity with its new Herbal aftershave, a 100% natural blend of herbs combined to cool and soothe newly shaven skin. The product leaves skin virtually free of irritation, company executives said.

Honeybee Gardens' Herbal aftershave was developed by a husband-and wife team who turned to their own herb garden for shaving-sensitivity relief. The result was a product comprising herbs steeped in witch hazel, then strained, along with aloe to help moisturize and soften the skin. The product comes in a 4-oz. bottle and retails for $5.99. It is available in a variety of fragrances including Bay Rum, Sandal-wood, Key Lime, Vermont and Florida.

The company also offers a hand cream for hard-working hands. The product penetrates dry, rough, cracked skin without leaving skin feeling sticky or greasy and comprises sweet almond oil, cocoa butter, beeswax, anhydrous lanolin and vitamin E. A 2-oz. jar retails for $5.95.
Lab Series for Men, a division of Estée Lauder, takes skin comfort a step further with treatments that ward off the signs of aging, the company said. The line recently added two new products, Eye Rescue Undereye Therapy and Age Rescue face lotion, to cater to both comfort and appearance.

Lab Series' Eye Rescue Undereye Therapy consists of green tea and cucumber extract with sucrose to help soothe the skin; whey protein to improve elasticity and smoothness; grape extract and mulberry root extract to even skin tone and fish cartilage extract to reduce dark circles and puffiness. The product retails for $23.50.
The Pleasures for Men line makes close shaves a pleasure, according to Estée Lauder.

Age Rescue face lotion was developed to deliver firmer, healthier and more youthful-looking skin. The oil-free formula helps reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles utilizing retinyl palmitate and whey protein. Additional protection is provided by adding vitamin E, vitamin C and green tea extract, while a combination of botanicals improves the evenness of the skin color. A 1.7-oz. bottle retails for $28.

Estée Lauder branched off another line as well; Pleasures for Men "makes close shaves a pleasure," according to the company. The collection includes Oil-Free moisturizer, a deodorant stick and Comfort Shave gel, an extra-rich, skin-conditioning, gel-to-foam formula which actually lifts the beard and cushions the skin. Comfort Shave gel's formula comprises oil-free moisturizers, green tea and aloe vera to help reduce razor burn, redness and irritation.

For a pampering experience, Cuccio Naturale, Valencia, CA, now offers Cuccio for Men. Cuccio invites men into the spa with a Gentleman's hand facial complete with spa manicure, callus remover and massage; Lavender hand facial to exfoliate, nourish and renew and Sports manicure, to address deep tissue massage. Pedicures are also available on the premises.

According to Cuccio executives, though still less frequent visitors than women, men are beginning to appear in spas for a stress-relieving, rejuvenating experience. This trend is the next logical step in a market that is coming into its own and is combining pampering with practicality.

The Sweet Smell of Success
Fragrance completes any personal care regimen, and there is a wealth of choices for today's male consumer. Many fragrances cross over to fragranced personal care products for all-encompassing lines.

Male fragrances have experienced the same dramatic sales growth as other men's categories, and similarly, show few signs of slowing. Meg Hargreaves, vice president of research publishing for MarketResearch.com, explained, "Even in a relatively well penetrated market, such as the fragrance segment, where up to 75% of men are users, the potential for increased sales is enormous and growth has outpaced the women's market."

Italian Cosmetic Laboratories Inc., Ambridge, PA, has introduced Wood Water. The company acquired the North American master distributorship of the line, which was created and developed in Italy by Gli Amati.

Wood Water was designed to appeal to a man's sense of style and elegance, according to company executives. The packaging is unique and appealing, with hand-crafted wooden caps and bases and crystal-like bottles.

A Beard Trimmer That Women Will Love?
Women will love the new Trim 'N Vac beard and mustache trimmer, according to Wahl Clipper Corporation, Sterling, IL.

That's because the Trim 'N Vac vacuums hair as it's cut, resulting in less mess in the sink and easier clean-up, company executives explained. The clippings are vacuumed into an easy-to-empty, easy-to-clean collection chamber at the base of the unit. "The Trim 'N Vac's unique vacuuming capability is a huge coup for singles and for people sharing a bathroom," said Greg Wahl, president, Wahl Clipper Corp. "It expertly cuts your mate's mustache or beard and will undoubtedly cut down on the number of complaints couples have about cleaning the sink."

The Trim 'N Vac represents the next generation of Wahl's line of Groomsman beard and mustache trimmers, a brand that was introduced in 1984. "Wahl invented the beard and mustache category," said Mr. Wahl. "Who better to clean it up for both men and women."

The Wood Water collection includes eau de toilette natural spray; after shave natural spray; after shave balm; deodorant natural spray; deodorant stick; shower gel and a perfumed soap set. The fragrance's effect is "fresh as water and warm as wood," according to the company.

Issey Miyake's L'Eau D'Issey Pour Homme has achieved popularity in the prestige category with a variation on the existing well-known fragrance. The scent, which was released for the summer, contains yuzu, mandarin, grapefruit, sandalwood, saffron and cinnamon and is cooled with Florida orange. The formula contains cooling agents to refresh, peppermint water to invigorate and stimulate and glycols to hydrate the skin. Its ultramarine and turquoise appearance reflects a cooling feel. The fragrance retails for $38.

Nautica Latitude Longitude has added two new men's care sets for the holiday season.
Nautica's Passport to Adventure set contains the signature clean, fresh scent in a 3.4-oz. spray and 2-oz. All-day deodorant; it retails for $46.

The Nautica Elements of Adventure set includes a 3.4-oz. spray, a 4.2-oz. after shave comfort gel and a 4.2-oz. Ultimate comfort shave cream. It will retail for $59. Both kits will be available in fine department stores October through December.

With room to grow, the men's personal care market is certain to see an even larger proliferation of choices, from traditional shaving gels to problem-specific targeted treatments. Multiple choices of appearance in both socialization and the workforce have opened the market even further. And a willingness to share ideas in person, in the media and via the internet has boosted sales across the category.

"Whether at home or in a corporate environment, today's man can choose different ways of dressing, decorating and styling," said Mr. Fogg of American Crew. "He can opt for disheveled hair or deconstructed hair, for example."

Much has changed since 10 or 20 years ago, when such looks would have been "totally inappropriate," according to Mr. Fogg.

"An individualized look is entirely appropriate," he said. "It's acceptable now in the name of fashion."


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