Every year we see all kinds of trend reports claiming the Beard is finally dead and with it the Men’s Grooming Industry will be crumbling close behind—but that is simply not the case. Not only will beards always be a staple men’s look, but the men’s industry is only getting bigger. In fact it’s expected to reach $21billion by the end of 2016.
Market Analysis and Demographics
These days, more and more men are coming around to the idea that grooming and personal care isn’t just for ladies—a change we’re more than excited about. From ads portraying a more coiffed and put together male image, to male celebrities revealing their skincare and grooming rituals, men are finally catching on. But who is this consumer? Small Business Development Center Network (SBDCN) reports that it varies greatly by product, adding, “The 15-34 age bracket however, purchases the widest range of products and is most devoted to grooming measures. They consider this to be standard procedure.” They suggest that some of this comes from the influence of men’s magazines that suggest improved appearance helps with dating.
Men believe they need to look better for business too, a SBDCN report explained, “Surveys indicate that men feel the need to look younger and more attractive to remain professionally competitive. In a nationwide survey conducted by Just for Men Hair color, almost 70% of the participants said that appearance affects salary; the same participants also believed that looking younger improved prospects for promotion.”
A Selfridge beauty buyer named Elodie Bohoun noted, “Men are starting to get more and more knowledgeable about beauty and are paying attention to their looks: haircare is the biggest category, with shaving coming second.” While some see this as a kind of paradigm shift over the last few years in reality men’s interest in grooming has waxed and waned throughout history. Right now we’re at the start of an uptrend that’s predicted to last for a considerable amount of time, making it the perfect opportunity to get involved.
The sector is growing incredibly fast. Mintel reported that a survey of Brazilian men, who are ahead of the beauty curve but not by far, showed that 29% of men were more concerned with their appearance at the time of the survey than they had been six months prior. Meanwhile, around the globe, men are following suit. Korean and Chinese men alike are showing interest; with the Korean men’s market dabbling in things like tinted bb creams, and more recently, even blush thanks in part to K-Pop.
Over the last two years we’ve written about many men’s companies and have watched them grow. GIBS Grooming is one of the prime examples. GIBS launched right at the start of the beard craze, winding up in the right place at the right time, and has grown exponentially since. Despite rumors that beards and men’s grooming are waning, they’re selling more beard oil than ever. When we caught up with them at Premier Orlando, a representative explained that in the year since we had spoken with them they had increased their product range by almost double—that’s no small feat. And everywhere you look there seems to be a new indie men’s brand popping up with their own take and identity. Older brands have also had the chance to branch out. Even mainstream brands like Old Spice and Axe have upped their product and marketing games in the last few years with no end in sight.
One of the interesting things is that many of these companies rely on the internet because men are significantly more likely to shop online. One source suggested that it’s the preference of three out of four men. That said it’s not impossible to lure men into a store or salon—but it does take more effort than your average female consumer (Check out our article on the topic on pg. 52). While mainstream retailers are struggling to catch up with the trend, consumers need to get their products somewhere, which leaves plenty or room for small, internet based companies to find their place in the market.
Strength of Indie Lines
It’s partially due to the lack of mainstream products outside the 3-in-1 and partially that many men are starting to get curious and branch out, but it’s the indie brands taking the men’s market by storm. A significant portion of men are turning to independent retailers and more off-beat products. Men are looking for efficacy, but they’re more aware of packaging than you might expect. Clean lines and witty text are a good start, but a good design makes a product stand out on a shelf and makes it more likely to make it into the cart online or in store. Part of the explanation behind this is the idea of buying into the lifestyle—something consumers of all genders fall for.
Elle Morris from Beauty Packaging explains that, “When Millennial males think about grooming, they want the authentic, individualized feeling offered by ‘craft products.’” They continued, “To tap into this potential, brands face the challenge of positioning products in a way that truly resonates with American men. Because most skin care and grooming brands in the U.S. are geared toward women, brands need to reposition themselves to let men know they understand their needs, too. Brand positioning starts with understanding men’s current needs and then clearly communicating how a product will fulfill those needs. For example, with the prolific nature of the beard, younger men need beard control products.” Niche companies like GIBS and Redbeard Brand (another CosmoBiz favorite) are able to better market to these consumers because they have a better handle on the trends and are more able to develop products quickly and uniquely.
What Are Men Looking For?
Okay, men’s grooming is booming, you want in. What kinds of products are you looking for? To start you need to have your basics covered; deodorant and shaving supplies are clutch but men are likely to pick these up at the grocery store. The real key is toiletries. According to DeWolf Chem, “men’s toiletries represent the fastest growing market segment today, and is predicted to grow significantly higher than men’s shaving between 2012 and 2017.” Within toiletries you want to pay special attention to products that work with dry scalps, sensitive skin, hair loss, acne and oil control, anti-aging skin care, and UV protection.
When you’re looking for products to stock your salon or store, you’ll want to look for products that address those issues that also have packaging that’s going to work for the average male consumer. As Morris mentioned Millennials are looking for products that identify with a crafted nature, while Gen Y wants natural and anti-aging products. Both look for clean packaging that is straight to the point. “Men are not browsers, and they need to feel comfortable picking up and purchasing these products. As such, it is critical to be crystal clear with straightforward packaging that quickly explains what the product does, how it works, and what the usage is,” Morris notes adding that many successful men’s brands utilize stark packaging with bold type and contrasting colors.
Ethnic Mens Market
One of the biggest gaps in the men’s grooming industry is its coverage of African American, Hispanic, Asian, and minority men. In fact, one of the many questions you find in researching the topic is “Are major companies ignoring black men?” It’s a question that is significant, and one that is especially relevant to beauty supplies and salons looking to cater towards this demographic. The US Census Bureau has predicted that by 2019 the black population of the US will reach 44.3 million, and yet many manufacturers still consider ethnic beauty a niche market. However, it’s one of the fastest growing populations, and the spending power of that community shouldn’t be overlooked.
African American men and minorities are more likely than their caucasian counterparts to buy grooming products. Which might be partially due to their unique skin and hair issues, or because they’re more likely to have facial hair. They’re also more likely to buy products in person making them a perfect sales target.
African American men in particular need products that aren’t being carried at most mainstream retailers. Their hair is curly, dry, and prone to breakage while their skin is more sensitive and they’re likely to suffer from ingrown hairs. As in the general men’s market independent brands are popping up to fill the void.
One such company is Frederick Benjamin grooming, a black owned business started in 2008. The founder, of the same name, developed a full line of products after becoming frustrated with having to use products that didn’t work for his skin or hair. Now his products are available for retail across the country and his handy Journal serves as a great source of hair and skin education for anyone interested.