Heterosexual Men are the Biggest Untapped Source of Reliable Revenue for the Beauty Industry

Heterosexual men are the biggest source of untapped source of reliable revenue for the beauty industry
Photo: Lab Series

The billion-dollar beauty industry has always marketed the majority of its products to a feminine audience; however, in the last few years, we have seen a “male groom boom”. Males — mainly heterosexual males in the younger generation — are beginning to express an increased interest in male cosmetics, thus opening up a space for brands to market to this cohort of relatively untapped consumers. This means the massive surge of male beauty interest and spike in the portion of male consumers in the market possesses huge enormous market potential. While the lines separating gender-specific beauty are blurring, much of the heterosexual population still socially identify with masculinity or “made for men” products, for which there is a growing demand in the beauty industry. This growing trend of the “male groom boom” brings reliability to the spending of this demographic.

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Buying Habits

What makes heterosexual men a reliable source of revenue in the beauty industry is their consistent buying habits. This demographic provides consistency, given that heterosexual men are known to buy their products in bulk. This is supported by a New York Times article and Wharton Business School Study that examined the different shopping habits of males and females, in which both concluded that “women shop and men buy”. This presents the idea that women see shopping as an activity and a joyful experience, whereas men see it as a task to restock their supply. The reason is that men are typically more impulsive, making them faster decision-makers and making them the ideal audience for male-targeted marketing. They are also highly driven by logic, which makes them likely to repurchase a product if it works for them. The economic benefits of these traits are that they are loyal to a specific product, providing consistent revenue to the sellers that come with repurchasing a product repeatedly or in multiples. Thus, there is long-term potential for consumer retention.

Another factor worth noting is that men tend to use products fast, as skincare routines are more of a step in their regimen than a self-care routine. The market of men’s cosmetics is also less experimental than women’s; hence, fewer options might mean that a product will be used more frequently. Compared to someone with a roster of skincare options, the study has shown that women like to explore and experiment. The frequent use of the product leads to frequent purchases and inflowing revenue. Furthermore, the frequency and loyalty to a product makes them a reliable and consistent customer base for beauty brands.

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A Generational Gap

However, this does not apply to all men, as the “Male groom boom” is primarily prevalent in the younger generations. In a study by Ipsos focusing on the generation gap within the men’s cosmetics market, the two groups were divided between heterosexual males between 18 to 34 years old and those 51 years and up. Both groups had over 60% of their subjects using cosmetics in their current grooming routine, with the younger group ranking 6% higher at 68% and 51+ groups at 62%. The detailed study also found that the groups had very different attitudes and driving factors when purchasing beauty products. Those in the 51+-year-old group are motivated by a desire to look younger, whereas the younger group is more concerned about general appearance. The study also found differences in preferred purchase channels, with 42% of 18 to 34-year-old males being very comfortable with purchasing cosmetics in person as opposed to 15% in the 51+-year-old group. Therein lies a challenge in this market as brands may find it difficult to market to a broad audience. Older generations are significantly concerned about people knowing they use beauty products and are vocal about maintaining their masculinity. This may be partly due to the developed idea of masculinity in this day and age, where men using cosmetics has reached majority acceptance within the younger population. Therefore, although heterosexual males of all ages do purchase beauty products, these groups must be marketed to through different approaches.

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Marketing to Them

Targeting heterosexual men does not necessarily have to be overtly masculine. Brands portraying products as hygiene or health-related are more likely to catch their eye than a product that is “beauty” forward. Skin and haircare in male-targeted marketing typically does not focus on the pictured product itself but on healthy-looking skin or aspirational imagery; they sell a lifestyle intended to be associated with the product. This approach markets a product more subtly, shifting its appearance to a lifestyle necessity instead of a beauty trend, which this demographic is more likely to be enticed by. This general approach can effectively reach a target audience depending on the imagery and fundamental characteristics of a brand.

A great example would be Nivea Men; their appeal is apparent in all age ranges, given their reasonable price point and masculine marketing. The brand floods its social media with simple imagery, regularly featuring men with masculine features like facial hair, short text presenting the aim of the product, and players of the Liverpool football team they sponsor. This imagery appeals to the mass audience of males, with its association with football garnering the eyes of fans who are predominantly heterosexual males of all ages. The no-frills imagery and text are intended to appeal to logic-driven purchases. The brand also emphasises its masculine persona by exclusively featuring male visuals on its social media, emphasising shaving products and darker shades of packaging. This approach is great for reaching the mass male audience, especially those who prefer men-targeted products, and aims to maintain the traditional perception of masculinity.

Some brands may appeal to their audience with the umbrella of gender neutrality. This has proven to be successful, especially with the younger generations, given that these younger age groups are more present on social media and accepting of gender-fluid products. Inclusive products appeal to all genders by excluding hyper-feminine or hyper-masculine imagery, with clean-cut shapes, neutral colours and imagery of both men and women. Social Media has also been a significant contributing factor in the acceptance and rise of the gender-neutral approach. Most notably here, heterosexual male celebrities like Pharrell Williams and Harry Styles started their own gender-neutral beauty brands, driving growth in the male grooming trend. The popularity of it takes away the stigma for the male audience in beauty, allowing them to experiment in a safe space, hence younger generations’ openness to move away from traditional masculinity. Therefore, the gender-neutral approach is excellent for the younger male audience and is also a great way of minimising the intimidation of the beauty-sphere for men who are not used to it.

While there are still gaps in the beauty market for the heterosexual male audience due to societal norms and existing stigma, the “male groom boom” and increasing acceptance of males in the beauty industry gives them massive growth potential. Furthermore, the beauty industry stands to benefit long term due to the spending habits of heterosexual males, making them an ideal candidate for long-term customer retention and consistent revenue. If brands wish to tap into this opportunity, they must consider the main driving factors behind men’s beauty purchases and present stigma of traditional masculinity within the older generations.

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