The Future of Male Grooming event in London (November 18), hosted by non-profit beauty organisation CEW UK, detailed how new consumer attitudes are driving industry growth. Here are the top insights for male grooming brands.
Permission to Groom
According to male grooming journalist and blogger Lee Kynaston, the biggest change in consumer attitudes towards male grooming over the past 10 years has been the acceptance of narcissism. “The message is: it’s ok to take care of yourself,” he said. “Men have been given permission from celebrities, influencers, and the media to groom.”
Kynaston also noted the image of the modern man is fragmented, allowing consumers to interpret their own masculinity in a number of ways, either adopting, rejecting or mixing traditional codes of masculinity. This shift is in part thanks to a disconnect from the female gaze. “Where once men were grooming for women, now they are grooming for themselves,” he explained.
The proliferation of social media has encouraged male grooming consumers to consider themselves as brands in their own right. “We are all brands now,” said Kynaston. “We are so much more aware of how we represent ourselves.”
Beards: The Man’s Make-Up
Steve Griffiths, head of marketing for male shaving and grooming at Dutch technology company Philips, confirmed Kynaston’s thinking. The barriers that traditionally prevented male consumers from grooming – such as lack of confidence and access to specialist tools – are falling. “The beard for men is like make-up for women,” said Griffiths, referencing the growth in numbers of men forgoing a clean shave in favour of facial hair. “It’s changeable and experimental.”
Philips is banking on the increasing popularity of experimenting with new styles by releasing a series of innovative shaving devices. The HC9000 hair shaver offers precision styling for at-home haircuts, while the BT9000 laser-guided trimmer offers similar detailed trims for facial hair.
Actionable Insights: At Home & In-Store
Male grooming consumers are smarter and more sophisticated than ever before. Kynaston said brands should “under-promise and over-deliver” to attract this cynical, results-driven market.
He pointed to the bathroom sink as a hindrance to both brands and consumers, and encouraged organisations to develop with this in mind. “The future of male grooming needs to move away from the washbasin,” he said. “Products need to be portable, on the go and multifunctional. No one has time to be chained to the bathroom sink.”
The in-store experience is also crucial. Griffiths advised brands to think up ways to educate men through the shopping experience where they are looking for it, but without the hard sell, adding: “They don’t want to feel forced.”
Kynaston agreed. “If I have to advise brands to choose male or female counter staff, I say neither, as both will be intimidating to the male consumer,” he said. “They prefer a solitary experience.” The key is establishing an in-store styling experience that engages the consumer without an over-sell.