Even in a progressive industry like natural products, stereotypical gender roles have long held sway. Health-conscious moms have tended to be the go-to target consumers for brands, protein powders were instinctually geared towards male muscle heads and natural personal care products tilted heavily toward female consumers.
But that’s starting to change as the industry wisens to the market potential in broadening target demographics beyond traditional stereotypes. New market research by New Hope Natural Media shows, for example, that experimental, health-conscious Millennial males are actually a key consumer segment for natural and organic products. Shifts are also happening in the protein powder category where companies are creating formulations with a more casual user in mind. And in the realm of natural personal care, companies are starting to open their eyes to the vast and largely untapped male market. After all, about half of men still wash their face solely with water.
While global beauty and personal care launches specifically targeting men have climbed 70 percent from 2007 to 2012, natural companies will still find a wide-open playing field. Here are three trends shaping the category:
- Trend conscious. Natural products across categories are shedding the granola image with their use of the trendy ingredients and modern branding. Men’s personal care products are heading this direction as well, and in doing so have a chance to capture trend-forward males who may not yet be loyal natural shoppers in the personal care aisle. W.S. Badger Company’s Navigator line hits on the ultra-trendy steampunk and hipster movements with products like beard oil, mustache wax and shaving brushes. Vermont-based Ursa Major’s mountain man persona, Badger’s James Bond-style product descriptions and UK-based Bulldog’s, well, bulldog, mascot give these products an appealing but not overwhelmingly manly personality. Men are also warming to concepts traditionally thought to be solely within the realm of women's personal care. Youtheory's newest line of men-specific collagen, for example, has found favor with even "guy guys," Nutrawise CEO Darren Rude said. Mainstream retailers such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, GNC and Vitamin Shoppe also see the appeal of such a product and will carry the line after it launches Jan 1, Rude said.
- Make personal care part of a healthy lifestyle. As health and appearance become bigger priorities for men, natural skincare companies are seeing an opportunity to educate about the importance of choosing natural not only in the products consumers eat, but also those they put on their skin. Suddenly, opting for a high-quality natural facewash or moisturizer isn’t a matter of vanity, it’s part of a whole-body health-promoting routine. “The consumer insight that is driving growth rates in male skin care boils down to self improvement,” said Simon Duffy, founder of Bulldog. “It’s the glue between men caring more about their skin, their appearance, their health and their fitness.”
- Make it simple and straightforward. Let’s face it: personal care products are a foreign concept to a vast segment of the male population. Male-oriented brands need not churn out dozens of different products for different conditions and skin types. That’s a recipe for overwhelm. Companies that are finding success are keeping their lines tightly edited and opting for multi-use products and simple descriptions about product functionality. This straighforward approach will appeal to a population that may be interested in the benefits of natural personal care, but averse to spending more than a few minutes each day thinking about it.