The Rise & Rise of the Men’s Beauty Category

Its not difficult to pick one of the ‘hot spots’ of the Cosmetics & Beauty category – anecdotal observation, the heady flow of new product launches, research, and industry forecasts all show Men’s Beauty products are on the march across different continents.

Despite all the negative news on the plight of European economies and the eurozone, solid growth is predicted in all significant markets over the next 4-5 years. L’Oreal estimated UK growth in male cosmetics being twice that of women’s some time ago.

 That solid growth becomes double digit annual increases predicted for the ‘frontier’ developing markets like Turkey. This becomes stellar growth predicted from Brazil, China, India etc etc.

The key questions are why ? And will the growth continue ?

Looking at the UK market, men are clearly investing more and paying greater attention to grooming as a means of exhibiting self assurance during troubled and uncertain times, as well as reinforcing more practical benefits of career prospects. This trend is not restricted to retail products either – the number of listed barbers in the UK grew by a third since 2008.

Men are clearly becoming more discerning in their category and brand choice – they are no longer guided simply by price, although they remain happy to include beauty purchases in with their other shopping. It is easy to envisage that men will start exhibiting greater willingness to undertake special trips to buy their beauty products in due course.

These changes in behaviour will be driven by greater interest away from the more functional categories of shaving, deodorant, shampoo, shower gel etc into more frequent usage of body lotions, moisturisers and hand creams. Thereafter it will be a logical path to more ‘cosmetic’ categories such as anti ageing facial skincare, cleansers and hair colourants becoming integral to the male daily beauty regime.

L’Oreal have previously identified the reasons for this growing interest in cosmetics stemming from concerns to counteract the signs of tiredness, stress and ageing – obviously brought into sharper focus in a competitive recessionary jobs market when work-place stress and the need to look and feel competent are brought into focus.

Clearly however, the secret is in the way brands execute the right tone and language to entice more regular usage. Currently, brands evoking a greater masculine or sporty image with the right packaging formats and colours, are preferred to something seen as more cosmetic. This will evolve however – particularly as European men are already showing greater interest in natural and dermatologically caring formulations or products with moisturising and hydrating benefits.

All seems to bode well for enlightened retailers to play a greater role in developing this category and benefiting from the consequential profits – more space allocated to these new products and perhaps even the ‘guy aisle’ where the ranges can be presented. Not only will this encourage usage of the newer more cosmetic products from early adopters, it will even interest those hardy alpha males seeking an easier, quicker and simpler shopping trip.

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