At face value, the European men’s grooming sector is not particularly dynamic, according to market research provider Euromonitor International. In Western Europe, 2018 sales rose just 1.2% to $23.8 billion. The category fared better in Eastern Europe, where sales rose 3.3% to about $3.6 billion. Spain was the most buoyant market, up 2.0%, while other major European markets, including France, Germany, Italy and Russia, struggled to post positive sales.
A more upbeat interpretation was provided by GlobalData, which surveyed European men for its 2019 Q3 global consumer survey and found that one in five (20%) completely or somewhat agree that they are willing to increase the number of products they use to improve their appearance: this increased to 30% in Poland, 29% in Italy and 27% in Portugal. Meanwhile, Mintel has discovered that 22% of 25-44 year-old UK male followers of grooming routines spend more time on their routines and enjoy using more products.
A willingness by men to extend their grooming routine with additional products hints at such routines becoming increasingly sophisticated. Lia Neophytou, analyst, GlobalData, observes that for younger men in particular, frequent social media usage results in a highly informed demographic, with a heightened interest in product quality, efficacy and ingredients.
“This sophistication is manifesting as the desire for hyper-personalized grooming offerings that are tailored to lifestyle factors beyond gender alone,” she comments.
Health and Wellness Benefits
According to Mintel, 22% of UK men think it’s important that their beauty/grooming routines promote their physical health, and 14% their mental health.
“More people are recognizing the importance of following a healthy lifestyle in order to maintain not just physical health but also mental wellbeing and appearance,” states Rosalia Di Gesu, global beauty & personal care analyst, Mintel. “Men’s BPC innovations can better advertise mood and stress-relieving benefits, use healing crystals, stress-relieving adaptogenic plants and microbiome-friendly probiotics. They can also look to break down existing taboos around mental health.”
Health and wellness innovations recorded by Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNDP) include P&G’s Aussie Man Keep It Strong Shampoo, a strengthening HIIT session for the hair, while UK Johnny’s Chop Shop Sports & Social Hair Styling Fibre offers humidity resistance for fitness fans. Meanwhile, stress-relieving formulations include Polish ZEW for men with its black chaga collection with antioxidant and soothing chaga mushroom. The range also includes a charcoal collection which uses charcoal from the Biesczday Mountains in Poland.
Minimalist Pack Designs
During the past 18 months, Mintel researchers have recorded an increase in minimalist black and white pack designs on a number of men’s grooming launches, bringing a sense of simplicity and style. Each of the following examples are by brands trying to simplify the men’s offer in what seems like an impossibly cluttered and complicated market.
German private label drugstore player, DM Drogerie Markt’s premium DM Seinz, consists of black or white packs that also use recycled materials and plant-based formulas. Doers of London is a premium natural and “clean” range in minimalist uncluttered pack designs sporting empowering messages on-pack, such as Wipe Your Slate Clean and Cut Out The Fluff. The Grey Men’s Skincare brand features clinical white packaging with understated black text and includes trending botanical ingredients as well as potent synthetics such as charcoal powder, algae extract, hyaluronic acid, collagen and retinol.
The widespread growth of beards provides opportunities for brands to extend beyond beard care into skin care, according to industry observers. Mintel research for European beard-themed facial skin care and hair care launches indicates that this trend has been gathering pace, rising from 6% of launches in YTD June 2015 to 20% in YTD June 2019.
“Beard care products attract a broad male audience,” affirms GlobalData’s Neophytou, “hence innovation in this category is ongoing rather than a trend.”
One example is the transition of CBD into men’s grooming with the launch of Bielenda, Only for Men, Cannabis Cream from Poland, an intense hydration cream enriched with cannabidiol and caffeine.
Beard oils have largely driven beard care innovation, according to Mintel researchers, and they offer more differentiation with newer textures, such as serums and mousse, and hybrid beard/face hydrating formulas. Netherlands Reuzel Beard Foam is a leave-in beard conditioner designed to tame, deodorize, reduce itch and eliminate “beardruff” and split ends, all while soothing and conditioning the beard and skin underneath.
Another is the Revuele Men Care Solutions Barber Salon range, whose Step 3 Daily Moisturizer for Beard and Face soothes and hydrates skin, and helps style and strengthen facial hair for faster growth. The Great British Grooming Co. Beard Thickening Serum uses moisturizing argan oil, keratin and provitamin B5 for stronger, healthier hair and a fuller-looking beard.
John Lewis Makeup Counter
In January 2020, John Lewis became the first high street retailer to launch War Paint For Men in its Oxford Street store. The male beauty line, founded by Daniel Grey and backed by BBC Dragons’ Den as an investor, stocks foundation, concealer, bronzer and brushes. Neophytou maintains that this is indicative of a changing consumer landscape as male cosmetics have traditionally only appealed to small niche groups.
“However, driven by blurring gender boundaries as well as the individualistic mindset of younger male consumers, the male grooming industry is seeing something of a revolution. This level of interest from a mainstream retailer is a groundbreaking step toward normalizing male beauty in both the marketplace and at a wider societal level,” she said.
Could the creation of a physical retail counter allowing men to interact, test and engage with products in real life be the trigger needed to capture a wider demographic of male consumers who traditionally never engaged with these types of products? Only time will tell.
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Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher who commentates on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles, has served on the Board of Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW UK) and won the prestigious Cosmetic Executive (UK) Achiever Award. Founded by Imogen in 1993, The Premium Market Report remains the only in-depth report to examine trends in the premium cosmetics, skincare and fragrance industry.