The men's grooming category has proven very challenging for many beauty firms. It has thus remained concentrated in the hands of a few despite the emergence and further
penetration of small niche brands. However, given that men globally are higher earners and that society is becoming more accustomed to male grooming products, the category continues to offer a large untapped market for firms to explore.
Stability is key
Despite the media hype surrounding men's grooming, the category has yet to show the strong double-digit growth that companies have been expecting. Instead, men's grooming has witnessed stable growth of around 6% on average over the past five years, remaining fairly resilient during the recession when growth dropped by just 1% point . However, the category's performance across the various regions has been very uneven, with Latin America posting double-digit growth and Western Europe a low single-digit gain. According to Euromonitor International, the category reached sales of nearly US$33 billion in 2011, making it a close rival to bath and shower with sales of US$37 billion, and accounting for nearly 8% of global beauty and personal care sales. Western Europe remains the largest region for men's grooming, with Latin America closing the gap to just over US$2 billion, down from US$5 billion in 2007.
Toiletries gradually catch up with shaving
The global men's grooming market is almost evenly split between men's shaving and men's toiletries, which both achieved growth of around 6% in 2011. This marks a shift as back in 2000 men's shaving accounted for 60% of total men's grooming sales. While men are becoming gradually accustomed to using toiletries thanks to increased media coverage and product availability, stereotyping and the female image associated with some products continue to put some men off.
Men's shaving has remained the dominant category over the past 10 years. Most men consider shaving part of their daily routine and thus the lion's share of sales derive from the razors and blades category, with only a small amount of sales accounted for by men's pre-shave and post-shave products. Western Europe remained the largest region for men's shaving in 2011 despite category saturation and the recent trend for an unshaven look, with shaving still considered a necessity by most men. While the US still accounted for the largest share of sales in 2011, the gap between itself and Brazil is now down to around US$400 million from US$1 billion three years ago. Brazil is the fastest growing market for men's shaving, posting double-digit growth rates since 2008.
Deodorants target the 'teen' market
In men's toiletries, half of sales derive from deodorants, followed by hair care, showing that men are still prioritising functionality over beauty. Deodorants are an essential part of men's hygiene routines and in 2011 men spent on average three times more per capita on deodorants than on skin care. Click to Tweet! The category performed well in 2011, growing by almost 7%, largely due to the blurring of the boundaries between fragrances and deodorants. As companies try to differentiate their offerings, deodorant sprays that can double up as fragrances have been successful, particularly among teens. The popular campaigns from Axe/Lynx, Handle It and Sure, which promote the image of a successful, assertive and sexually irresistible man, have inspired many young men to use these as fragrances.
Skin care gets a boost from Asia
Men's skin care was the most dynamic category in 2011, experiencing double-digit growth. As features from women's skin care are replicated in male-specific products, an array of products targeting issues from ageing and blemishes to brightening has become available. Multi-functional offerings targeting specific problems such as dryness, hyperpigmentation, acne and sensitivity are becoming popular among men looking for efficacy and functionality in their skin care routine. In 2011, almost 60% of total skin care sales derived from the Asia Pacific region, with men in Japan, China and South Korea traditionally accustomed to using grooming products. The rise in men's disposable income in the region has helped boost skin care and men's toiletries in general, with skin care growing by nearly 20% in 2011.
Super Men have Super Skin
Male perceptions and expectations of skin care products differ greatly as men prioritise moisturising and do not worry so much about ageing. As Will King, the founder of the UK brand King of Shaves, rightly pointed out in his presentation at In-Cosmetics Barcelona this year, they are likely to be less responsive to the packaging and advertising widely used by beauty firms. Some good examples are Super Skin for men with sensitive skin from King of Shaves and Super-Charged Masculine Face Care from a German company called FaceLube.
Marketers are finally changing their communication strategies and tailoring them to the male demographic. This is also being seen in retail where men prefer more straightforward advice from shop assistants and shop more online than women. Despite using the internet more than women they do not interact with brands in the same way and tend to use the internet more for research. Spending so much time online, men are starting to notice online advertising banners and brands have started using online campaigns and social media to engage with male consumers. There has even been a rise of 'Pinterest' sites tailored to men, such as 'Dudepins' and 'Gentlemint'.
Brazil and Germany remain strong but Asia Pacific will steal the show
According to Euromonitor International, men's grooming will continue its path of stable growth, similar to historic levels, over the period to 2016. However, there are changes predicted within the category by 2016. Brazil should overtake the US to become the leading market in 2015 and Germany is forecast to overtake Japan in 2013 to become the third biggest market in nominal value. Brazil's slowing economic growth is not forecast to halt Brazilian consumption habits and despite the exposure to the EuroZone crisis, German men will add another US$250 million in real terms to the men's toiletries market.
Asia Pacific will be the second biggest contributor to growth after Latin America. The region's potential for the men's grooming market remains largely untapped, and considering the promise of skin care products incorporating features from women's skin care, like whitening and hyperpigmentation, it is the region to watch for men's grooming.