The grooming and cosmetic industries have found a brand new market to latch onto and, if booming growth is any indication to go by, it’s one that is happy to receive the attention. While traditionally female-focused, these industries have found in recent years that business is booming with the global male grooming market reaching an estimated value of $50bn last year. Attributed in no small part to a prevalent millennial sector, this grooming growth represents a ready and waiting consumer market for businesses to make a play for.

With such a market springing up across the world, it should be no surprise that brands are rushing to establish themselves as the go-to producer of male grooming products. Companies such as Bulldog are at the forefront of turning what may have been more traditionally seen as a feminine field into an androcentric rival to said tradition. The question that remains, how has this transformation been achieved?

Booming beauty: a shift in attitudes and demographics

According to Euromonitor International, who provided the $50bn estimate, the market experienced a 6.8% growth from 2015 and has seen particular improvement in emerging markets such as the Middle East and Africa. Perhaps more importantly though, data from NPD group showed that during the January-October 2016 period, while women’s skin care products were plateauing in the UK, the male market grew by 2.7%. In large, this seems to be due to a novelty aspect, with the NPD report highlighting a spike in the launch of male-specific hair care and greater demand for male grooming kits as key reasons for the growth.

Clearly, the industry is benefitting in no small way from existing demand only just being met with supply but the question that will arise is whether the market can maintain its current growth and, if so, for how long? The market is expected to reach a value of $60.7bn by 2020, at a CAGR of 5.2%. and such a value certainly seems to suggest the continuance of demand for the industry to provide products and, moreover, makes clear that there is a significant shift in demographics occurring.

Simon Duffy, Founder of Bulldog Skincare For Men said: “People are increasingly more open-minded in their attitudes on grooming, which has been supported by higher levels of education on the benefits of a positive skincare regime, and by the increasing reach of ‘influencers’ on social media. The wellness industry also encourages changes in beauty and grooming. The idea of taking care of your body is now connected to looking after your skin. For instance, most men understand they need to drink water throughout the day, and many will also focus on keeping their skin hydrated with moisturiser.”

Global growth: looking to other regions

While the UK is doing well, and Western Europe as a whole is expected to remain the largest market, the Asian Pacific market is predicted to drive the most growth in the industry. According to Euromonitor, the region’s market should be worth $11.5 billion by 2020, up from US$7.8 billion in 2015, a forecasted CAGR of 8.1%. Perhaps attributable to an increase in disposable household income, there also seems to be a more established acceptance in certain countries, with a cosmetic U&A survey conducted by the Korea Ministry of Food and Drugs Safety in 2015 revealing that Korean men use an average of 13.3 beauty items per month.

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Talking to HKTDC Research in December 2016, Kathryn Sloane, APAC Region Director of Growth for SGK, a global brand-development company, said: “Although the US and the UK initially led the global market in terms of the launch of new men’s grooming products, Asia has now exceeded the western markets with regard to actual sales. The spend across the Asia-Pacific region now accounts for 60% of the total US$21.4 billion global male-grooming market. Despite being the leading region for the sale of men’s skin-care products, the market in Asia is still expected to grow by about 10% over the next 12 months.”

From the production side of things, growth in the Asia-Pacific region is also attributable to heavy investment in the cosmetic industry (both male and female). In 2014, Japan, Korea and China were all in the top five investors in cosmetic research and development and Korea specifically has rolled out plans further, with the stated goal of the top-two Korean beauty companies to enter the top 10 companies in the beauty industry in terms of revenue by 2020. By pushing for broad innovation in the industry, more male-centric products are likely to only benefit and the Asia Pacific region could well become the hub of the industry in years to come.

Androcentric advertising: disrupting previous conventions

A wrinkle in the boom comes from the fact that, while many consumers are presumably taking whatever is available, the industry is still having to work out the best ways to market to an audience that has previously been largely uninterested in products like moisturiser. Adding to the complication, as found in Mintel’s Men’s Facial Skincare – UK – June 2017 report, is that while men may now be more open to cosmetic products, they are also less invested in it than their female counterparts.

Notably, the Mintel report found not only that male consumers are typically sticking to simple skincare regimes but that there is a level of confidence that may drive disinterest (78% of men agree that it is acceptable to have some wrinkles and 67% of men think that they look good for their age). Unable to simply replicate tactics over from the female market, those looking to break into the male grooming field are having to change their approach.

Speaking again to Duffy, he explained how they sought to change the male market. “The typical male skincare product will use the same blue, black or grey colour scheme, and use the same silly pseudoscience-inspired language on-pack.

“Bulldog has set out to disrupt the conventions in the male grooming category in many ways. Our packaging is one example of this.  Our white packaging stands out from the crowd. We have used language that is easy for men to understand and shop.  When we launched, we were the first brand to offer moisturiser in a tube and now this is something of a standard.”

Given that the market is a fairly new one for consumers to explore, Bulldog’s approach, particularly the focus on standing out through simplicity, could well be definitive in its efficacy. Given the likely younger average consumer, and the newness of the market itself, manufacturers need to focus on innovating and adapting rather than trotting out the rote script and imagery that has existed thus far.