Online Exclusive: Men’s skincare packaging needs to stand out – but not too much!

What men most commonly want from skincare packaging is something that is practical, that they can use with ease at home and at the gym, and enables them to quickly find their preferred brand in store.

Dr Benjamin Punchard, Senior Global Packaging Analyst, Mintel
But with the growth of value added anti-aging and targeted eye care products, more innovative packaging is squeezing onto the shelf.

Men’s skincare has seen strong growth on the back of the metrosexualisation of the modern male. Though soap and water once dominated, today’s man is quite at ease with skin care products and likely to include them in a regular skin care regime. However despite this growth in use, and in the number of brands active in this category, the packaging for men’s skincare remains consolidated around two core pack types. For example taking global launches of men’s body, face and eye care, in 2011 bottles and tubes accounted for 89% of all packaging, compared with 71% for unisex and women’s products.

Jars in particular are seldom seen in men’s skin care, accounting for the packaging of just 4% of all launches 2008 to date. This may in part be because jars are seen as old fashioned and associated with in the home use. For many men a skin care regime needs to fit easily and quickly into the day and be available wherever they are, with bottles and tubes more suitable for use at the gym, or at work. Even for in the home use men’s skincare is marketed as functional and so easy and quick application will be preferred over a pack type that may suggest ‘treating yourself’ and ‘pampering’.

A good example is the recent launch in Thailand by Unilever of Vaseline Men Anti-spot Whitening.

Vaseline for men Anti-Spot Whitening, launched by Unilever in Thailand; and Bramley for Men body lotion by Bramley Toiletries and Cosmetics, launched in South Africa. (Source: Mintel GNPD)
Here the packaging is a 400ml bottle that communicated the products masculine positioning through being a dark matt black in color and having heavy sharp shoulders. Practicality is provided through a pump closure, clearly communicating functionality and ease of use. Another is the launch by Bramley Toiletries & Cosmetics in South Africa of Bramley for Men Body Lotion in a 500ml dark blue bottle. Here deep ridges in the bottle sides suggest a robust bottle suitable for grab and go use.

Can value added men’s skincare break out of the bottle and squeezable tube?

Men’s skincare tends to focus on the standard product, with Mintel research showing that regular moisturizers, creams or lotions account for 69% of products used by US males. Products for sensitive skin also fair well accounting for 25% of male moisturizer use. However anti-aging is still a relatively low priority, accounting for just 8% of male product use compared to a significant 35% for females. However this is likely to change as the population ages and senior males look to recapture their youthful looks.

As men’s skincare products start to become commoditised consumers may start to purchase on price. As a result brand owners will be looking to leverage value added skin care to maintain and grow value margins. This will lead to greater use of innovative packaging to highlight on shelf the added value positioning and communicate the additional functional benefits, or enable application to specific targeted areas such as around the eyes. For example in Germany Le Club des Créateurs de Beauté has launched eye care product Agnès b. Hommes Icy Effect Roll-On in a simple dark blue tube with a roll-on that is claimed to provide a massaging effect to refresh tired eyes.

Agnès b. Hommes Icy Effect Roll-On by Germany Le Club des Créateurs de Beauté (Source: Mintel GNPD)

In addition to standing out on shelf, packaging attributes can increase consumer perception of product performance. Dosing closures suggest that an exact amount of product is required, helping to reinforce the strong clinical positioning of many prestige skin care products, whilst protecting the contents from contamination. Increasingly dosing closures are combined with airless technology to better preserve functional ingredients which can easily oxidize. This can ensure longer shelf life for the product, reduce the amount of active ingredient required, and help to reduce the use of preservatives in the product for better clean label positioning.

However men’s skincare packaging should not discard brand cues

Though innovative packaging can help to position value added functionality such as anti-fatigue or anti-wrinkle, it is important to remember that male consumers tend to shop on brand cues. For example in the UK 69% of male consumers look for their usual brand when purchasing cosmetics and toiletries, as against 36% who are swayed by attractive packaging. As such it is important that aspects of the packaging that are key to brand recognition are maintained across any skin care range.

As Mintel’s Senior Global Packaging Analyst, Benjamin is responsible for delivering actionable insight drawing on his 8 years of extensive international experience. Over this time he has worked with the leading multinational packaging companies to provide strategic market recommendations. Benjamin holds significant experience in conceiving, conducting and delivering quantitative and qualitative research.