2010 was an ‘interesting’ year for the male grooming industry with many new products and ranges coming to fruition and an almost ubiquitous presence in men’s (and women’s) media. The phenomenon of male grooming is here to stay and has the potential for growth, but what does 2011 hold in store for male grooming? Many predicted that 2010 would be the year that the male grooming industry ‘boomed’ but the reality was that while some areas have shown growth (particularly online), augmentation in other areas has been negligible, with some segments even registering a decline.

In the US, the average male spent 10.2% less on over-the-counter Drugstore skin care products in 2010 [1. Tschorn, Adam “Men are just not that excited about skin care” ]. (compare it to spending on hair care products, which was up 9.9%) and despite the undoubted increase in popularity of male grooming in the UK, the British men’s grooming market has increased by a rather meagre 3% over the last 3 years [2. Industry Data taken from Mintel’s Report “Men’s Toiletries – UK- September 2010”].

So what is the reason behind this slower than anticipated growth? Mintel cited the state of the economy as a key factor for sluggish growth, however in accordance with Ape to Gentleman, skin care industry insiders have voiced other opinions.

One view for the cause of the slow growth is the method used by advertisers to target men. The truth is that advertiser’s are still trying to find the most effective way of communicating with the male audience, particularly with men aged between 30 and 50 [3. Costa, MaryLou “What men want from a brand relationship”].

Huntington[4. Costa, MaryLou “What men want from a brand relationship”]. (Saatchi & Saatchi) posits that marketers are still far more informed about women’s industry and their needs, while when asked about the men’s market he concludes;

“We haven’t yet scratched the surface when it comes to men”

Promotions seem to be a popular (and logical) approach of targeting men, particularly with product launches, as the men’s skin care industry is currently more ‘elastic’ than the female equivalent. Unilever used this approach when they introduced the Dove Men+ skincare range in January this 2010; they had 34 offers on the range between its launch and June[5. Assosia].

Furthermore In 2010, approximately 55% of all facial skincare volume (Men’s & Women’s) was sold in conjunction with an offer, compared with only 48.8% in 2009[6. Kantar Worldpanel].

But what is clear is that the price of the product has little bearing on the satisfaction of the products being used; on a recent Poll on Ape to Gentleman*, only 7.48% of respondents chose price as the determining factor for their grooming product choice. When you also consider that only one fifth of men are happy with the results of a product that they bought based on the claims it made [7. Mintel Male Grooming and Personal Care Consumer – UK – July 2010], we see one clear indicator of why industry growth is slower than expected– the secondary purchase; men unhappy with their products will not buy it again.

“The sector has been massively battered in the past two years” surmises Will King, King of Shaves founder.

“There’s a huge hook into price promotion. People expect to buy very cheaply and grocers have played their part in that. There’s a lot of value destruction going on. We need a return to people desiring brands.” [8. Clarke, Simon “Grooming on a budget”].

It’s clear that education has a big role to play in the men’s industry; Ape to Gentleman’s Poll* showing that 8.41% of respondents referred to online reviews and recommendations before they by their products. Men expect their grooming products to work on their first product purchase and are unlikely to product ‘hop’. Once men find a product that works, they more than likely stick with it. Conversely, if the product doesn’t work as described (or expected), it could put them off finding a solution altogether.

“Men want the quick fix, and they don’t understand the concept of process,” says Beverly Hills dermatologist, Harold Lancer[9. Tschorn, Adam “Men are just not that excited about skin care” ].

So where does the industry go from here? Well the Ape to Gentleman Poll* showed the most important factor of a man’s choice in grooming products is how effective the product is with a staggering 65.42% of respondents choosing this variable. The men’s industry is very much a necessity and results driven industry, while the female equivalent is more aspirational; women are more likely to buy (and repeat buy) on the promise of result. Men on the other hand are more impatient and expect to see results straight away.

Therefore emphasis for brands in 2011 should be on the education of the men and to develop products that are more male friendly and effective.

New product innovation is on the large out of step with men’s skincare needs and could be better tailored to the skincare concerns that men actually have.

Good examples are the new eye rollers from Polaar (Icy Magic) and Biotherm Homme (High Recharge Eye Serum), which allow men to address dark circles under the eyes without the hassle of small tubes and finger application; men are far less tolerant when it comes to lengthy skin care regimes.

It is evident that the selection (and availability) of men’s products available offline compared to those online is almost non-comparable, which is why (among other reasons) many men prefer to shop online. One thing is certain; the internet will have a key role to play if the male grooming industry is to grow significantly in 2011.

– The Poll results feature 102 respondents from the Ape to Gentleman website
– Repeat voters have been blocked to allow a fair representation and misleading data
– The 5% Other answers in the Poll refer to Smell, Vegan Product’s and Ingredients.