Straight Men are the Primary, Unexplored Goldmine for the Cosmetic Industry

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By Car Brand Experts

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

The multibillion-dollar cosmetics industry has traditionally targeted a predominantly female audience; however, in recent years, there has been a surge in male grooming trends. Particularly, heterosexual men from the younger demographic are displaying a growing interest in male beauty products, creating an opportunity for brands to engage with this relatively underexplored consumer segment. This shift indicates a significant rise in male interest in beauty products and an increasing share of male consumers in the market, representing substantial market potential. While the distinctions between gender-specific beauty categories are becoming less defined, many heterosexual individuals still associate with traditional masculinity or products marketed as “for men,” which is witnessing a rising demand within the cosmetics industry. The emerging “male grooming trend” ensures a consistent consumer expenditure within this demographic.

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Consumer Behavior

The reliability of heterosexual men as a revenue stream in the cosmetics industry stems from their consistent purchasing patterns. This demographic demonstrates a steady buying behavior, as heterosexual men are known to make bulk purchases of their favored products. A study featured in The New York Times and Wharton Business School highlighted the contrasting shopping habits of men and women, affirming that “women shop and men buy.” This notion suggests that women view shopping as a leisurely pursuit, while men see it as a pragmatic task of replenishing their supplies. Men generally exhibit more impulsivity in their decisions, making them swift in their purchase choices, thereby rendering them an ideal target for male-centric marketing campaigns. Moreover, their logic-driven nature inclines them towards repeat purchases of effective products. In business terms, this loyalty translates to sustained income for sellers, emanating from the recurrent acquisition of specific goods either singularly or in multiples. Consequently, there exists a long-term potential for retaining consumers.

Another noteworthy aspect is that men tend to exhaust products relatively quickly since skincare routines are perceived more as a regimen step than a self-indulgent ritual. Male-oriented cosmetics markets tend to be less variegated than their female counterparts, resulting in higher product usage rates. In contrast to individuals with an array of skincare alternatives, research indicates that women prefer exploration and experimentation. The frequent utilization of a product fosters repeated purchases, ensuring a continuous flow of revenue. Furthermore, the regularity and allegiance to a product render heterosexual men a dependable and recurrent client base for cosmetic brands.

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Age Disparities

Nevertheless, such trends do not universally apply to all men, as the surge in male grooming is predominantly conspicuous among the younger populace. An Ipsos study scrutinizing the generational contrasts in the men’s cosmetics sector segregated participants into heterosexual males aged 18-34 and those aged 51 and above. Both cohorts exhibited a participation rate of over 60% in their grooming routines involving cosmetics, with the younger faction registering a 6% lead at 68% compared to the 62% in the 51+ demographic. The in-depth analysis further delineated variant attitudes and motivators influencing these groups’ cosmetic acquisitions. The older cohort, aged 51 and above, leans towards beauty products for a rejuvenating appearance, while the younger subset emphasizes general aesthetics. Disparities were also evident in preferred purchasing channels, with 18 to 34-year-olds displaying a much higher comfort level (42%) in in-person cosmetic acquisitions as opposed to just 15% among the 51+ age group. This divergence poses a challenge in catering to a broad clientele, as brands may find it arduous to engage multiple age ranges. The older generations, in particular, exhibit reservations regarding public recognition of their cosmetic usage and are vocal about preserving their masculine image. This propensity could be partially attributed to the prevailing concept of masculinity in contemporary society, where the acceptance of men using cosmetics is more prevalent among the younger populace. Ergo, although males of all ages purchase beauty products, conglomerates must devise distinct marketing strategies tailored to specific age demographics.

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Targeted Marketing Approaches

Engaging heterosexual men does not mandate an overtly masculine approach. Brands opting to present products as essential for hygiene or health are more inclined to capture their attention than those emphasizing beauty aspects. Male-focused skincare and haircare marketing typically spotlight healthy skin or aspirational visuals rather than the products themselves, promoting a lifestyle associated with the merchandise. This subtle marketing tactic transforms the product’s narrative into a vital part of one’s lifestyle rather than a passing beauty trend, a strategy that resonates more effectively with this target demographic.

Through this overarching method, it is possible to effectively connect with a specific audience based on the visuals and core qualities of a brand.

An excellent instance could be Nivea Men; their attractiveness is evident across all age groups, owing to their affordable price range and manly advertising. The brand inundates its social platforms with uncomplicated visuals, frequently showcasing men with rugged features like facial hair, concise text detailing the product’s purpose, and personalities from the Liverpool soccer team they endorse. This visual content appeals to the broad male demographic, with its affiliation with soccer capturing the attention of fans who are largely heterosexual males of varying ages. The simple visuals and text are crafted to appeal to rational buying decisions. The brand also underscores its masculine identity by exclusively highlighting male images on its social channels, showcasing grooming items and darker hues of packaging. This strategy effectively targets the wider male audience, especially those interested in products designed for men, and endeavors to uphold the conventional concept of masculinity.

Certain brands may engage their target audience under the theme of gender inclusivity. This strategy has proven effective, particularly with the younger demographic, as these age groups are more active on social platforms and open to gender-fluid offerings. Inclusive products cater to all genders by avoiding overly feminine or masculine visuals, opting for streamlined designs, neutral color schemes, and representations of both men and women. Social media has played a pivotal role in propelling the acceptance and popularity of the gender-neutral approach. Notably, male celebrities such as Pharrell Williams and Harry Styles have launched their own gender-neutral beauty lines, fueling the growth of male grooming trends. This acceptance diminishes the stigma associated with beauty for male consumers, enabling them to explore in a supportive environment, hence the younger generation’s willingness to transition away from traditional masculinity. Thus, the gender-neutral strategy is highly effective for the younger male demographic and serves as a way to alleviate the intimidation often felt by men unfamiliar with the beauty realm.

While there are still gaps in the beauty market concerning heterosexual males due to societal norms and prevailing stigmas, the surge in male grooming and the increasing acknowledgment of males in the beauty sector offer substantial growth prospects. Moreover, the beauty industry stands to gain in the long run due to the spending patterns of heterosexual males, positioning them as prime candidates for sustained customer loyalty and steady revenue. To capitalize on this potential, brands must acknowledge the key motivators behind men’s beauty purchases and address the entrenched stereotypes of traditional masculinity prevalent among older generations.

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