Will we soon be riveted to the boob tube watching Bravo?s new show Queer Eye for the Natural and Organic Straight Guy? Probably not. But viewers—men and women—are making the actual show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a cable television megahit. It certainly isn?t uncommon to hear a man?s significant other say, ?He should be on that show!? as she hooks a thumb at her shabby, stubbly man. And the naturals industry is starting to get the message, looking to tap into the booming personal care market for men.
According to market research firm Datamonitor, men?s products accounted for $4 billion of the $33.5 billion U.S. personal care market in 2001. In June 2003, Datamonitor pegged the men?s share of that market at around $5.3 billion and predicted that ?the U.S. beauty market for men is set to grow at twice the rate as the female market,? calling it ?one of the fastest growing markets in the consumer arena.?
But how do you get those men into your natural personal care department to buy their facial toner and firming masks? There isn?t one clear answer, but here?s how some retailers and manufacturers are tackling this issue.
How the traditional companies do it
The current media attention is focused on conventional brands such as Nivea, XCD by King of Shaves, Neutrogena, Origins and even Adidas. And the image these brands display for their men?s lines is decidedly manly. NFL star Jason Taylor hawks products for Neutrogena, and NBA star Jason Kidd is a spokesman for XCD.
The product lines are generally traditional—shave cream or gel, aftershave, face cleanser and moisturizer—with perhaps a deodorant and deodorant soap rounding out the offerings. XCD stands out for introducing both self-tanning and tinted moisturizers. Origins goes even further with its ?Male Call? products, which include white tea eye creams, ?skin-brightening? face polisher and body cleanser, as well as a sea salt body smoother. But the company sticks to gender-neutral packaging and markets the same products to men and women.
This represents the key split in the men?s personal care marketing philosophy—targeting products directly to men via masculine packaging and a special men?s area, or crafting products and packaging that either sex will feel comfortable buying.
The new boys network
Myriam Zaoui, co-owner of New York City-based The Art of Shaving, believes making a man feel safe is the way to entice him into trying new products. ?We wanted to keep this kind of old look [for our store decor]—it?s very warm, it?s very masculine—so our clients are not afraid to go in the store. It?s very inviting for our customers.? The Art of Shaving?s clients tend to be over 30, professional and more traditional, Zaoui says.
?When a man is passing by the store, he sees a lot of men inside and is less intimidated. The name—The Art of Shaving—has a more masculine connotation. A lot of our customers never buy in a department store or spa, because it?s an area with a lot of women and they don?t feel comfortable,? Zaoui says. ?So coming in our store they feel very safe—this is their own little area, their own store.?
In a twist on what might be considered traditional men?s care buying habits, The Art of Shaving?s customer demographic is almost entirely men, with women usually shopping there only during the holiday season.
Something for everyone
Myra Michelle Eby, founder of MyChelle Dermaceuticals in Frisco, Colo., is a proponent of the unisex school of marketing. ?Skin is skin. Whether you are a male or female, nutrients are going to address your condition and balance your skin. We really don?t like to pigeonhole products just for men or just for women,? she says.
The overwhelming majority of products in the MyChelle line are unisex and differ by skin type needs only. However, MyChelle recently launched a line of products to address men?s specific shaving needs, with a slightly more masculine packaging and scent. Eby says the products still appeal to women, and she has already received calls from women who use the men?s line.
Eby may be on the right track crafting products that appeal to both sexes. Mediamark Research reports that households in which the principle grocery shopper is male increased from 13 percent in 1985 to 24 percent in 2001. According to Natural Marketing Institute's 2003 Health & Wellness Trends Database, among the portion of the population that shops natural food supermarkets, 27.9 percent are male. At the same time that men are getting the message that it?s OK to look after their skin, they are increasingly going out to buy the bacon, whether or not they are bringing it home.
?The whole line shouldn?t look like, ?Ooh, it?s just for girls.? More and more men are realizing that they need to take care of themselves too—not to become Barbie dolls like Ken, but to have healthy skin. I could take the entire line and put a different twist on it and market it to guys, but what a mess, what a waste of packaging and so forth,? says Eby.
The natural male
Herban Cowboy of Saegertown, Pa., has decided that marketing exclusively to guys is the way to go—no women?s products, no schizophrenic packaging design, just men. Its products, much like The Art of Shaving, look to make men comfortable with personal care purchases that extend outside of the traditional shaving line. The company is repackaging its line with a western feel that it hopes will show men that it?s OK to do a ?Calgon, take-me-away? moment or to cover up problem skin and still stay natural—and manly.
For instance, Herban Cowboy Vice President Lisa Vukmer says the company found that a lot of guys were taking baths after they worked out, as a muscle relaxer. And there was nothing for them. ?Everything was smelling like lavender and roses. We heard from the bodycare buyers that if we came out with something like [our bath] soak, we would do really well.?
As for the Herban Cowboy back scrubber, Vukmer says ?so many guys were using those poofs?those synthetic scrubbers—and they were so embarrassed about it. My brother?s in college, and he said, ?I don?t want to carry a poof into the bathroom.? And plus, they?re synthetic. So our scrubber is a natural male version made out of cotton. But men don?t have to carry around a pink thing. It?s actually been a really big product for us.?
Overall, Vukmer says that sales have been ?exploding? since Natural Products Expo East 2003, perhaps reflecting the metrosexual boom.
?We found that guys said, ?It?s about time that there?s something strictly for men.? It?s doing really well because of that, because men feel they have a place where they can go for products specifically designed for them.? She also notes that women who don?t want a more frilly, floral-scented product have also started to respond well to the line.
Herban Cowboy extends its desire to stay natural into its packaging. It uses recyclable materials—including No. 1 and No. 2 plastics, which are more readily recyclable.
Two roads diverged? with a signpost
For Michael Wrightson, president of Logona USA, the U.S. branch of the German personal care company, the main issue in marketing to men for naturals retailers is not how the product is packaged, but where it?s displayed. In his view, deodorant for men gets lost in the deodorant section. Body lotion for men gets lost in the body lotion section. ?We put a line together and expect it to be merchandised together,? he says. ?But what in reality happens is the stuff gets scattered around and lost in the mix, and then it doesn?t work that way. And [retailers] say, ?Wow. Men?s products don?t seem to work.??
Logona?s line is undergoing an overhaul and has been certified natural by Bund Deutscher Industrie- und Handelsunternehmen, the German trade association for pharmaceuticals, health care goods, dietary supplements and personal hygiene products. The company currently has a six-product men?s line within its overall mix, but that will be expanded to eight along with the repackaging.
Wrightson believes drawing men into the personal care section starts with retailer education. ?The stores that are interested in capitalizing on [the men?s products trend], they need to first of all make a serious survey of what?s out there in the way of men?s products that even fit into their store.? This will give them a better idea of what works with their product mix and how they should present it to men, he says.
Once you have that worked out, it?s a matter of showing both women and men that you have products that cater to men?s needs—and desires. ?I think you could feature men?s products and at least draw some attention to the fact that you have a men?s line,? Wrightson says. ?It doesn?t have to be in a special environment, it just needs to be segregated at least. Focus the concentration of the consumer so at least it will be seen.? In that way, he says, you give yourself a shot at taking some of that growing market of men?s products.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 2/p. 46, 48, 50