Is the Wait Finally Over For Men’s Grooming?

By Imogen Matthews, Consultant | March 5, 2014

For some years, the European men’s grooming market has experienced slow, steady growth, reflecting a gradual change in men’s usage behavior. Often touted as the “next big thing,” the market has yet to fulfill its potential and offers considerable opportunities for growth, especially from underexploited categories, such as skin care.

According to Euromonitor, the European men’s grooming market was worth an estimated $8.9 billion in 2013, with minimally higher sales than the year before. German men are the biggest purchasers of men’s products, accounting for 24% of sales, followed by the UK at 19% and France at 16%. Euromonitor’s figures suggest that men’s grooming has yet to become a reality for many Spanish, Dutch and Turkish men.

Shaving products, including razors and blades, dominate sales of men’s grooming products, although they took a knock in the UK in 2013, as the fashion for beards and stubble took hold. High profile celebrities, such as George Clooney, have made beards desirable and men are finding that it is not just acceptable but cool to sport a more relaxed look in the workplace. Less disposable income during recent difficult economic times and the high price of razor blades is also partly to blame for the trend toward less frequent shaving.

This trend gathered pace at the end of 2013 with the annual Movember movement, providing men with a further excuse to grow a moustache, this time for charity in a bid to raise awareness about men’s health.

Room to Grow
At less than 10% of sales, men’s skin care is the smallest sub-sector of the European men’s grooming market, yet the one that has attracted the greatest interest from manufacturers. According to Kantar WorldPanel, one in five European men use skin care products, which suggests that many rely on their partners either to buy products for them, or that they share each other’s skin care. German men are the most enthusiastic users of facial skin care products, at 26%, which is ahead of France, Spain and the UK at 20%. Compared to women’s skin care, this category has a long way to go. Body skin care products lag further behind, with only 11% of European men claiming to use these products. Once again, it is the trend-setting Germans who are most likely to use body skin care (18%).

Although penetration of men’s skin care is low, this does not mean that the category lacks sophistication. Anti-aging moisturizers, serums and eye creams are being added to men’s ranges and reflect a growing interest in products that offer more than the basics. For example, Tom Ford has launched a skin care range for men featuring skin care staples such as cleanser, moisturizer and lip balm, as well as serum, eye treatment, concealer and bronzer.

Men’s makeup, although too small to register on the sales charts just yet, should not be dismissed. Over the years, there have been many attempts to interest men in color products, but most have failed. Makeup for men is considered to be just too girly. Tom Ford’s inclusion of concealer and bronzer in his skin care range was done with just the right amount of discretion and likely to attract the type of man who is not looking to stand out in a crowd, but wants to look fresher and more youthful.

Marc Jacobs’ new men’s beauty range may also just hit the spot, with its concealer, lip balm and brow gel—though the eyeshadow palette could be a step too far for your average European man. Key to acceptance of these new products is a You Tube video in which Jacobs demonstrates how to use his products.

Datamonitor’s research has highlighted that men are demanding products that have beneficial wellness properties, which can be divided into five areas:
  • Bespoke. This trend follows the customization trend in the women’s market and reflects a desire for products that treat specific issues, such as baldness, body hair and wrinkles.
  • Sun Protection. SPFs are appearing in a wider range of men’s skin care products for their anti-aging properties as well as cancer prevention.
  • Energizing. Men are seeking quick pick-me-ups for their skin, which, in turn, fuels a rise in energizing ingredients, such as caffeine being introduced into male grooming products.
  • Sensitive. Once reserved for women, sensitive products are gaining ground in male skin care as men become less embarrassed about addressing skin sensitivity, especially around shaving.
  • Natural. Mirroring the trend for naturals in the women’s market, there has been a growing number of male product ranges that are based upon natural ingredients and that also claim to have environmental benefits. Datamonitor maintains that it is their impact on the skin that men have honed in on, believing that natural products, including herbals and botanicals, are gentler on the skin, as well as being effective.
Brand Stories
UK natural skin care brand Bulldog eschews synthetic ingredients and complicated language with a straightforward range containing essential oils and other natural ingredients. Launched in the UK 2005, it was the first natural skin care for men and has gone on to achieve success in Scandanavian countries as well as the United States.

ManCave Inc. launched in 2013 in the UK and is a range of natural grooming products bearing a cruelty free label, that claims to cater for growing ethical and health concerns surrounding skin care. Like Bulldog, ManCave takes a more humorous approach in an attempt to demystify the subject of men’s skin care.

Further research from Datamonitor suggests that men are not as brand loyal as previously thought and are less likely to stick with tried and tested brands.

“Brands must be particularly wary of the threat of private labels and promotional offers, because men are very prepared to try new products in search of a better grooming experience,” warns analyst Victoria Sidebottom.

The evolution of the men’s grooming market still has some considerable way to go. There is a sizeable minority of men who are embracing the concept of a grooming routine, and that includes products that don’t just do the basics but can actually improve appearance. However, many European men remain unconvinced and represent a significant opportunity for men’s grooming brands. Perhaps it’s time to rip up the rulebook and do things differently.

Imogen Matthews
Headington, Oxford UK
Tel: +44 1865 764918

Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher focusing on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles. Every year in April, she publishes The Premium Market Report, focusing on trends in the UK premium beauty markets.
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