A Boom in Male Grooming

Liz Grubow, of LPK Beauty, talks about the soaring interest and opportunities in the male market.

By Liz Grubow

The men’s grooming market is expected to be one of the fastest-growing categories in beauty and personal care, estimated today at $28 billion and predicted to exceed $33.2 billion by 2015, according to market research company Global Industry Analysts, Inc. As a heavily populated generation facing economic and social pressures to look their best, the aging baby boomers have emerged as a prime target for driving market growth. However, product innovation and marketing have been largely targeted at younger consumers, making it difficult for boomers to feel a relevant and more direct connection. Manufacturers and retailers hoping to engage boomers in men’s grooming will need to take a different approach that reflects the values and lifestyles of this influential generation.

Value-Added Interest
According to research conducted by Natural Marketing Institute (a market research consultancy), the boomer generation is beginning to shift their attention away from consumerism and economic status, and toward pragmatism and meaningful relationships. These value shifts directly influence their spending habits, brand loyalty and expectations of products and services. Male boomers tend to be more practical with their purchasing decisions, only buying products and services that they trust will work and that address a specific need or issue. Although they are willing to pay a premium for better quality and proven results, their functional view of products leads to a lower level of engagement, making it difficult to gain their loyalty. They are also hesitant—finding that claims often over-promise and lack credibility. These men are seeking solutions that can provide function, simplicity and real benefits.

Boomers’ desire for meaningful connections leads them to value relationships over material possessions, so brands are more likely to gain success with this target if they engage them on a personal level. These consumers find deeper connections with brands that speak directly to them and acknowledge that their needs are different than women’s. UK-based Bulldog Natural Skincare, a natural body and facial skin-care line aimed at men, has been successful in the market with a masculine, straightforward product line that men can easily identify with and enjoy using. The brand has established a relationship with men by offering options that are formulated specifically for them, not tested on animals and use natural ingredients, essential oils and very few synthetics.

The Grooming Experience
Brands should also consider what they value in their grooming experiences, then tailor innovations and channel strategies to support those values. With a strong desire to maintain their youth and remain competitive, male boomers value products that are problem/solution focused and make grooming easy and efficient. Offering multifunctional products, such as an anti-aging moisturizer with SPF, is a way to streamline the grooming process and communicate ease of use, which could also be an opportunity to drive regimen in men’s skin care.

Male boomers are also becoming one of the fastest growing segments in cosmetic procedures, getting anything from facelifts to laser treatments and derma fillers. This reinforces their value of efficiency, and also suggests that credibility is another factor that has significant influence on their grooming practices. Since products that are supported by proven results or endorsed by credible medical professionals are more likely to succeed, diversifying retail in cosmetic surgery offices and medical spas could be a successful channel strategy for this segment of the market.

Masculine Cues
Male boomers are also seeking grooming experiences that allow them to enhance their appearance without compromising their masculinity, considering everything from packaging to retail and service environments. Established men’s skin-care brand Jack Black uses masculine cues such as cobalt blue packaging and a signature to reinforce authenticity, and packaging graphics that resemble cigar labels to clearly communicate it’s a product line designed for men.

To ease the shopping experience for male boomers, retailers are developing male-specific beauty spaces, such as the “men’s grooming zone” at Macy’s in Philadelphia, complete with a flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi and coffee. Full-service grooming centers are also a growing trend, offering men a place of their own to relax and get a personalized experience. Truman’s, the eponymous “gentleman’s groomer” in midtown Manhattan, offers an environment for male customers to sit back and relax with a beer while they get a shave, shoe shine and manicure.

There are key value shifts that could pose a challenge to manufacturers and retailers trying to engage and involve the baby boomers in men’s grooming. Identifying the implications of these changing values will be critical to connecting with this target and generating growth in the market.

About the Author: Liz Grubow is vice president and group creative director of LPK Beauty. In her over twenty years at LPK, she has led brand identity programs for some of the world’s leading beauty brands. She is the author of the fundamental cosmetic handbook Sustainable Cosmetic Product Development.