The Male Market


Every year, American men are spending more money on skin care products. According to Euromonitor, a global market research firm, the men’s segment is one of the primary drivers of growth in the U.S. skin care market, having grown 42% between 2000 and 2005, compared to just 23% for the market as a whole.

Men and skin care are two things that traditionally have not gone together—until recently. In today’s culture, there is a newfound acceptance of men taking an interest in their looks and paying extra attention to their grooming. They are no longer considered effeminate when requesting skin care products by name. The stigma of using skin care products has faded, and the man who cares about his looks is finally in style. Today’s increasingly appearance- and health-conscious man is starting to notice he is not immune to common skin concerns, and he wants to do something about them.

As men have become more aware of their skin, more of them are able to identify their skin types, be it oily, dry, sensitive or combination. Men are also starting to pay more attention to the quality of their grooming products and are using more than just soap and water or drugstore shaving cream. Today’s man is venturing into new product categories such as cleansers, scrubs, toners, wrinkle creams and eye treatments in numbers unprecedented by his no-fuss counterpart of the past.

In order to meet this new demand for men’s skin care, brands and service providers should keep two important factors in mind. The first is the unique physiology and skin conditions that men face, and the second is that the way men view products and treatments is different from the way women do. The industry needs to be aware of and sensitive about these issues when targeting the male market.

Men’s skin physiology and concerns

Men’s unique set of skin care needs often necessitate their own product category. Borrowing their wife’s or girlfriend’s moisturizer might work once in awhile, but not every day. Men’s skin is typically thicker and oilier than women’s, and their products should reflect this. Men also generally prefer less fragrance in their products than female products tend to have.

Shaving is often the factor that causes the biggest discrepancy in the skin care needs of men and women. Along with general irritation and razor burn that results from dragging a razor across one’s face every day, many men also suffer from pseudofolliculitis, a condition in which hair grows back into the skin, irritating the follicles and causing itchiness, inflammation and bumps. For these reasons, men need products that exfoliate the skin to help uncover ingrown hairs while simultaneously delivering soothing and hydrating ingredients that address redness, irritation and dryness. The market is beginning to address these concerns with high-quality products that call out these benefits in a way that is more compelling to men.

Men’s views on skin care

The industry has begun creating products and treatments that not only address men’s unique skin concerns but are also more receptive to their perceptions of skin care. Men are becoming more aware of wrinkles, acne and discoloration, and are realizing they too can benefit from products that, in the past, have mostly been used by women. However, they also tend to focus on products that address specific problems they are currently having rather than choosing products that are preventive.

In a recently conducted market research study, most male respondents stated that acne, razor burn and dryness are their only skin concerns. Due to this tendency toward a narrow focus on their needs, men often avoid caring for their skin until the damage has already been done, often in the form of acne scarring, wrinkles and discoloration. Already-damaged skin increases the need for targeted treatment products, and it is the job of industry innovators to educate male clients about treatment options that can address future, as well as current, needs.

Men are also surprisingly unaware of the importance of sun protection and typically don’t incorporate sunscreens with SPF into their daily regimen. This should be one of the easiest and most self-evident steps in grooming and overall skin care for both genders. There are several opportunities to introduce men to SPF products and to educate them on the importance of sun protection, as well as on how to combat environmental damage. Many new products targeted at men contain an SPF to help streamline the grooming process.

Of course, nobody wants to add more tasks to an already busy schedule. Men are certainly no exception, and typically prefer easy, 1-2-3-step systems of products that make grooming fast, easy and efficient. They are particularly interested in products that do two things at once, such as combining acne and anti-aging formulas into one. Regimens containing more than four steps are intimidating to many men and can hinder them from trying a new system. With men, simplicity is best.

In this vein, there is now an influx of simplified, multifunctional products with names and packaging that specifically speak to men. Studies show that men gravitate toward products that easily identify their purpose and specify the benefits provided. Product benefit callouts have a stronger effect on men than specific ingredients do. As long as the products are perceived to work, men are not concerned with why or how it’s done. Research also suggests that men are more attracted to products that call out to them, with words such as “Men” or “Man” appearing somewhere on the packaging.

Due to its relative youth, men’s skin care is a constantly evolving market. As men become more and more interested in grooming and skin care products, professional spa facial services are following close behind. After a spa visit, it has been found that male clients are committed to following their esthetician’s recommendations, and they are very open to booking a series of services. The key to success is scheduling their services when they are at the spa, as well as following up with confirmation calls. Once they write the appointment in their calendar, the male client is typically a loyal one.

Classifications of the male consumer

While some men have been pioneers in the areas of style and grooming, other men have only recently begun to follow their lead. Building a loyal male clientele starts with matching various age groups and classifications of men to the benefits and needs that most closely match their type. The following are three key types of men, as well as what they are typically looking for in skin care.

Metrosexual. The metrosexual is an upwardly mobile male who is very interested in his appearance and grooming and is always willing to try a new product or spa service.

Übersexual. Übersexual is a new classification. This man is interested in his appearance and grooming, but tends to be more traditionally manly and rugged than the metrosexual man. The übersexual man is open to products and services, but often requires they be presented in a masculine way with more manly names and packaging.

Traditional. Depending on his age, the traditional man is generally considered a non-skin care user, with the exception of soap, deodorant and shaving products. Once introduced to one or two products, usually through a female, however, he can become quite a loyal user as he begins to notice the quality of his skin improve.

Also important to note is that the traditional man is often more interested in health than beauty. For example, he will respond more to a product that will help “prevent skin cancer” than one that will “prevent spots.”

Age targets will further help to focus the best product or service to a male client. The following are three key age groups of men and some of their major skin care needs.

15–25. Acne on the face, chest and back are the most common concern for this age group. Their regimens should be kept simple—one to two products, starting with a cleanser and treatment. Deep-cleansing facials and back facials should be kept to a 30-minute time frame.

25–40. This age group is most interested in grooming and relaxation. These men look for ways to get a close shave and leave their skin soft and smooth. They are more open to eye treatments and sun protection products than their younger counterparts, as well as longer, more relaxing spa treatments.

40 and older. To stay competitive in the workplace, these men look for ways to improve their looks and reduce signs of aging. They are open to products and services that are problem- and solution-focused. Sun damage, broken capillaries, wrinkles and eye puffiness are common concerns. This age category is often an ideal target for internal skin care supplements.

A man’s world

The average Joe is starting to change his ways and is beginning to use above average skin care products and regimens. It’s a new day for men’s products, as the market will only continue to grow. Clear, healthy skin doesn’t have to take a lot of effort, and using the right skin care regimen will separate the men from the boys.

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