Brand Strategy


Fred Richards CMO & Partner
February 4, 2020
Determining future trends for the male grooming category is easier said than done. I don’t own a crystal ball, and if things had gone like the television show “Tomorrow’s World” I watched growing up, we’d all be vacationing on the moon by now. However, what is certain is the dearth of educational opportunities for men on pack and among each other. Many women will go into a Sephora and tell the sales associate exactly what ingredients they want—and more importantly, don’t want—in their skincare. Yes, to hyaluronic acid and retinols, but it’s a hard no to sulfates, parabens and mineral oils. Don’t push a caffeine-and-ginger eye cream on her because she already knows it won’t work. Women research product reviews online, watch makeup influencers try new products on YouTube and discuss the pros and cons of certain haircare routines (to co-wash or not to co-wash?). They talk to each other for advice. Conversely, the majority of men may hesitate to spark conversations with their peers or take advantage of online resources—they may be unwilling to admit they use these avenues at all. When it comes to the future, the brand that will truly disrupt the male grooming category is the one that will own these conversations and bolster the breadth and availability of information men are seeking—or don’t know they’re seeking—beyond the clichés of sex and sports. Male grooming is evolving from the dutiful use of deodorant a couple times a day (if we’re lucky) and adopting the viewpoint that personal grooming, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, is a key factor for developing a sense of holistic wellbeing. But whether the brand that will accomplish this is a new or established one is TBD. If you aspire to be this brand, here are some notes to keep in mind: Ingredients Matter. Remember that men want to learn and that they find facts, figures and numbers particularly engaging. Push simple claims such as “Made with Aloe” further by addressing your aloe’s sourcing origin and species type. If you come up with a numerical strategy that organizes the different claims or ingredients in your product line, even better. Don’t forget it may help to communicate what specific benefits your ingredients offer to consumers; e.g., aloe moisturizes and cleanses skin and hair. Have the Plastic Conversation. Sustainability has been a growing trend for quite some time, but many brands continue to rely on plastics and pollutants for their business operations. Make serious investments in biodegradable packaging and sustainable practices so consumers will advocate for your brand on your behalf. Just as “badges” are important brand touchpoints, the values you champion ware also key assets. Introduce a System. For many male consumer types, knowledge is power and will help them navigate the various product lines your brand offers. Consider a numerical or color strategy to guide and establish skin and hair- care regimens. For example, daily routines include a cleanser and moisturizer, whereas once-weekly routines may also include an exfoliator, toner, mask or serum. Systems are the keys to organize multiple and complicated factors into a simple and streamlined approach. Make Resources Accessible. Equip men with both in-person and online resources to attract them no matter how they like to learn information. Organize your shelf sets, webpages and social media channels as educational hubs where men will feel comfortable to ask questions and share feedback on products. Don’t shy away from publishing quizzes where men can select their concerns and be matched to the correct products. Keep in mind many young men will be entering the category for the first time, so no question is too obvious and they will be grateful for any answers you may provide. The male category has been experiencing steady growth and is expected to reach $4.6B in sales in 2019 in the United States alone (Mintel, Men’s Personal Care, US, September 2019). While body odor, dry skin, and hair loss remain top concerns for male consumers, they are beginning to seek additional benefits from grooming products such as natural/organic ingredients, relaxation, and care bundles personalized just for them (Mintel, Men’s Personal Care, US, September 2019). Until we locate a fool-proof crystal ball or have the ability to book a lunar vacation, these are Kaleidoscope’s predictions so far. The opportunity for evolving the male grooming category beyond a caveman mentality is there—and ready for a brand to seize it.
Men are most concerned about body odor and skin condition “As basic hygiene is at the forefront of men’s minds when shopping for personal care, body odor is a top concern – leading to the high penetration and consistently strong sales of deodorant products. As the focus on maintaining an attractive appearance continues to grow, concerns about hair loss and skin condition are becoming more prevalent.” Mintel, Men’s Personal Care – US, September 2019