It may still not have reached the heavyweight clout of the beauty market, but with estimates that the UK male grooming industry will be worth £608 million by next year, the sector is making strides to catch up.
It’s now such a hot category that in November last year, leading industry organisation Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) hosted a mentoring event devoted to “The Evolution of Male Grooming” to examine its development. “In the past 18 months, we’ve seen real growth in male grooming products and services, breaking new ground in terms of sales and brand perception,” says Caroline Neville, CEW’s UK President. “We wanted to delve deeper, so we invited specialists to share their expertise. It gave a fascinating insight into what is a rapidly growing sector.”
Research from trend analyst Datamonitor has found that 52 per cent of male consumers around the world consider their appearance to be either important or very important, with 29 per cent touching up their looks throughout the day. So you can see that there’s never been a more exciting time to introduce customers to the innovations that will help enhance their look – whether they opt for the hipster beard or a smooth chest.
With the market – and its customers – entering this new phase, experts are asking “why now?” According to Nick Ferguson, sales and marketing manager for the Men’s Skincare Group at Éstee Lauder, the answer is as follows: “We are starting to see a boom in the grooming market as men feel more comfortable with the concept of investing in their sense of self. Concepts of masculinity have become more fragmented and, in a sense, guys have been given ‘permission to groom’, as role models such as Christiano Ronaldo have embraced grooming. The focus is on appearing stylish and, as part of that, one is expected to have good skin and healthy hair.”
In terms of impact, it’s facial hair that has captured the most attention, with varying lengths and styles offering new ways for men to get creative. “While it may have started with hipster culture in recent years, facial hair styling this time around is not associated with a particular sub-culture or social class,” says Steve Griffiths, head of Male Shaving and Grooming at Philips UK & Ireland.
“Today’s bearded look is entrenched across different social and musical communities, from hip hop to bikers and artists to tech-geeks. With a wider knowledge and greater access to facial – and body – hairstyles, consumers have the flexibility to personalise their look by restyling rather than rejecting hair. Most men aren’t simply clean shaven or styled – they fall along a spectrum based on involvement and tools used.”
“Quick fixes and educational angles which help to put a product into context are great ways to help men decide.”
Nick Ferguson, sales and marketing manager, Éstee Lauder Men’s Skincare Group
From anti-ageing to bodycare, new formulas specifically created to address men’s specific needs have never been more targeted or customer-friendly. L’Oréal Men Expert has launched a range of Clean Power antiperspirants, formulated for those who use a razor to “underarm groom” by including an anti-irritation complex and anti-bacterial zinc to stave off redness and infection, which can be caused by shaving armpits.
Refined, premium fragrance is the key to Dove Men+Care Cool Fresh, a new line-up of shower and deodorant products with a fresh scent that mirrors the quality and creation of fine eau de toilettes. Meanwhile, in the anti-ageing arena, retaining a chiselled jawline has been identified as a key concern among men and has prompted the launch of Lab Series Max LS Power V Lifting Serum and Lotion, a firming duo aimed at supporting the skin’s collagen to keep the face feeling firm and looking sculpted.
Increasingly smart tools – both electric and manual – continue to offer clever solutions and easy options for men wanting to maintain or create a polished, groomed look. Aimed at the 50 per cent of men who suffer from shaving irritation, Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 has a unique gel reservoir in place of a lubricating strip. This provides thicker coverage for a more comfortable precision shave and keeps skin hydrated for up to an hour afterwards.
For those opting for a variation of the “lumbersexual” bearded look, Philips Vacuum Beard Trimmer not only offers twenty 0.5mm precision gradients, but also hoovers up around 90 per cent of the cut hair, making it an ultra-clean option for the face and the bathroom. Or for men seeking a smooth, hairless chest, back or arms, Braun has launched the Body Grooming Kit, complete with an epilator head to remove the shortest hairs for up to a four weeks.
“Multipurpose products tap into the convenience trend and are a lever to get men to use more categories in male grooming.”
Peter Embleton, category strategy manager for toiletries at Unilever UK
Getting men to spend in store isn’t simply about products. They may be watching more online tutorial videos on grooming than ever before, but many still find shopping a potentially daunting experience. Having successful sales appeal means ensuring that men feel comfortable and confident when making a purchase. “Retailers are becoming much more engaged in the growth possibilities for male toiletries and what they can do to differentiate themselves and provide a better shopping experience,” enthuses Peter Embleton, category strategy manager for toiletries at Unilever UK.
“Brands are understanding that men are becoming more sophisticated but also respond differently to women both in how they select products and how they perceive them. The successful brands will be those that are single-minded in tapping into the male psyche.” Market research analyst Euromonitor has noted that the male grooming arena is taking lessons from fashion retail, creating an engaging and enjoyable environment with exclusive offerings, where shopping feels like a specifically masculine activity.
A case in point is The Grooming Station, a pop-up at London’s St Pancras International station dedicated to men’s luxury skincare and services. Running for eight weeks, it features leading brands including Clinique, Origins, Lab Series and Bumble and bumble. Consultants are on hand to offer ten-minute appointments for dry styling or a skin pick-me-up, as well as partnering with Oliver Sweeney for shoe shining.
“Male-specific expertise is important, with most men choosing and purchasing their own skincare products.”
Roshida Khanom, senior research analyst, Mintel
Working in synergy with a male-friendly shopping environment, sales consultants armed with tailored advice and knowledge are the key to guiding customers towards the best purchase for them. “By focusing on the benefits that a product has, the consultant can explain how it fits into a consumer’s life and current regime,” says Estée Lauder’s Nick Ferguson. “Quick fixes and educational angles which help to put the product into context are great ways to help men decide why they need this product in their life.”
Roshida Khanom, senior research analyst at Mintel, agrees: “Male-specific expertise is important, with most men choosing and purchasing their own skincare products. The high proportion of men describing their skin as neutral presents opportunities for better diagnostic tools and more help for men to identify their skin’s needs and products suited to them.”
Even advising men who are simply shopping for staples such as shampoo and shower gel offers an opportunity to expand their grooming horizons in the future. “Multipurpose products tap into the convenience trend and are a lever to get men to use more categories in male grooming,” explains Peter Embleton.
“This strategy isn’t just about encouraging men to use one product for the gym bag, but getting them to establish a grooming regime. For example, 2-in-1 shower products are designed to get men into the habit of using a male specific product to wash their hair when they shower, which they may not have done otherwise. As routines become more established, more engaged guys will realise that they get better results by using male specific products, which essentially remains the long-term goal of the category.”
We asked Shelagh Clark, UK pharmacy team leader at Procter & Gamble, for her top tips on maximising sales in men’s grooming. She told us: