Metrosexuals, Menaissance and Moisturisers, oh my!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 | 12:31 PM


It's possible that men haven't gotten the credit crunch memo yet--for the last two years, men's toiletries have been the fastest growing category in the UK's health and beauty market. The category is expected to remain strong for 2009, although growth may slow once men catch on to the current economic downturn.

For years, cosmetics and beauty companies focused their efforts almost entirely on women, leaving men out in the dry, chapped-skin cold. But in recent years, products created and marketed specifically for men have hit the shelves. A revolution has taken place and television programmes like Extreme Male Beauty, 10 Years Younger and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy have spread the battle call: moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.

And now for the second year in a row this is being reflected in sales at the till. The value of the male toiletries market is over £1bn, and in addition to being the fastest growing category, is outselling more traditional products like dental care. [1] Shaving, a traditional stronghold for male toiletries continues to be the main driver for the category followed by fragrances and deodorants, although other less obvious products like "manscera" and male makeup are also included. [2] Male skincare products are also popular, with brands including L'Oreal, Nivea and Boots selling anti-aging, anti-shine and anti-fatigue moisturisers, balms and washes targeted specifically to men.

But although man beauty products are on the rise, all is not well in the world of men's toiletries. Last year The Telegraph reported a backlash, calling the rise of men eschewing the idea of male grooming and protesting the media's push to turn them all into "waxed and coiffed metrosexuals" a "menaissance". [3] And while male health and beauty shoppers are on the rise, they still only represent a small percentage of shoppers and overall sales with just under 60% of British men over age 15 regularly shopping for personal care products. [1]

This is, however, one of the largest opportunities for retailers today. Persuading women to purchase more men's products and targeting men in retail environments that they feel more comfortable in, such as grocery stores and petrol stations, can help to keep the male beauty momentum going. All of the data suggests that the age of male beauty has not yet peaked, so retailers should be prepared to keep the moisturiser on tap.

[1] "UK Health & Beauty Retailers 2009: Resilient and Recession Proof..." Verdict June 2009
[2]"Sector Insight: Men's toiletries - Skincare leads the way" Jane Bainbridge, Marketing, 22 July 2008
[3] "Modern men feel emasculated, study claims", Sarah Womack, The Telegraph, 26 March 2008