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Male Beauty Survey Reveals a Universal Need to be Masculine

Posted: December 3, 2008

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"Australian men are less concerned about their appearance than men in many other countries. It's not that they don't care, but other factors are just more important to Aussie guys, possibly career success, spending time with friends or material possessions. The underlying culture of Aussie mateship is also likely to take precedence over time spent by a guy on his appearance," says Julie Beeck, Synovate's Managing Director in Australia. One recent related finding from Synovate interviews about men's image in the UK found that now, more than ever, men want to take control of their looks.

"People across the world feel out of control of many aspects of their life. They feel job uncertainty as many economies enter recession. But the one thing they have total control over is the way that they choose to present themselves. Men tell us that looking good is more and more important to them. Of course this is also more celebrity-led and aspirational than it's ever been before too," said John Coll, Head of the Qualitative and Consumer Goods teams for Synovate in the UK.

Beauty basics hit the bullseye

With this in mind, what is the bare minimum a man must do before he can be considered handsome? This was a question posed to respondents and the number one basic requirement is that a man practice good hygiene, including fresh breath. The top three most used products by men across all the markets surveyed were deodorant at 72% usage, whitening toothpaste at 61% and cologne or after shave at 58%.

To shave, or not, can also be something of a, err... hairy issue so Synovate asked male respondents whether or not they preferred the way they look with a clean-shaven face. In good news for razor companies, nearly eight in ten (79%) of men agreed that clean-shaven was best although there were significant differences between markets. Most married to their shaving mirrors were South African men (90% agreed they preferred the look of a clean-shaven face), followed by China (88%) and Spain (84%). Most likely to embrace the beard were men from Greece (34% disagreed they preferred to be clean-shaven), Australia and Brazil (both 25%) and Canada (24%).

Bob Michaels said, "Men never - or very rarely - talk about male beauty, making it an almost-taboo subject among our gender. Men don't comment on each other's appearance. They wouldn't dream of dissecting male celebrities' or sportsmen's looks. And they don't discuss beauty routines or products. In the absence of discussion and debate, men are open to well-delivered influence." Is this lucky or confusing? Perhaps a bit of both... depending on which side of the fence you sit. "If you're a regular guy, interested in looking after yourself, it may well be confusing. How should you go about it? If you are in the beauty business, it may just be a beautiful opportunity. The brand that 'does a Dove' for men may well get the issue of a male beauty standard on the agenda, leading the debate... and sales. In the end, men just want to be men. What that actually means changes from culture to culture, but the drive to be masculine is near universal," Michaels said.