Just like everyone’s dad of a certain generation was number one in school, so was everyone’s dad legendary for possessing dry, ashy skin and a rugged kind of male beauty. Over the years men have spent more time and money on their grooming. But even so, it has not been as radical as one may think. So much so a recent study about men and grooming expressed the slight anxiety selling male skincare products is presenting.
Metrosexuals, now a common word describing any and all well-groomed men, and spornosexuals, those overtly sexual highly polished-to-a-fine-finish men, all come with a solid reputation for grooming. But the biggest challenge and race for the market is for what is referred to as “the low-maintenance man”. These are men who are attached to specific products or do not care which soap they use. Men who use lip balm because their lips get dry in the course of the day and it slips easily into the pocket. Ashy skin are taken as a badge of honour. Brand names whizz past their head. They are a peculiar lot.
Especially in an age where androgynous and genderless fashion is in fashion, which is interesting following the splitting of skincare products into distinctly male and female.
But how do you get the average Kenyan man to invest in himself without feeling silly or buying products by proxy or online as if it was something shameful? Euromonitor International’s British study revealed men on average use seven products as opposed to the 21 used by women. The seven would include soap, shower gel, toothpaste, a kind of jelly for the lips that may or may not double up as a full body and face moisturiser.
The global men’s grooming market, like the menswear market, has a significant amount of potential to grow. Even though it is only 11 per cent of the current grooming market, it is still the fastest growing beauty segment. Men have more money to spend because they live single longer and earn more money over the years. Regardless, men take less time grooming.
When they spend extra on skincare products they are far more likely to do because they want to address specific concerns from acne, razor burn, skin eruptions or sunburn. Male skincare products are also most likely to be bought for him, by a female, usually someone significant to the potential male consumer.
When women buy male skincare products they are more likely to go with a male version of an already existing skincare brand. Add to that the absence of a strong magazine culture in Kenya which is what traditionally tends to be the best way to introduce women into skincare with advice on cleansing, toning and moisturising.
There are minimal male blogs, male personalities and celebrities who practise skincare, if any, and media coverage around male skincare habits is fleeting and incidental. No such thing as skincare education exists as part of the process that initiates men into consumers. Neither is there a culture that does that.
Brands successfully selling to men mainly target problem areas such as oily skin or razor burn, looking to fix an issue as a lead into a lifestyle. Some brands opt to attach masculine-preferred products like attaching gadgets to a sale or limited-edition comics. Marketing to the low-maintenance man has been observed as something that requires a whole other kind of strategy. Business of Fashion notes how products with a well-marketed female clientele tend to struggle with male products much more than organically designed male-only skincare products because the latter do not come across as an afterthought.
The fascinating thing about male advertising so far is how it has created insecure men. Men who find themselves assessing and judging their own looks a little too critically. Heightened masculinity seems to have had the opposite effect, boomeranging from The Marlboro Man.
Targeting men generally and low-maintenance men, who constitute the majority, demands reinvention. It is no longer enough to sell men products promising him irresistibility to women and the pleasure of endless sexual conquests.
Advertising has proven powerful and effective in shaping the female psyche across lifetimes. Presently, it appears, both women and men demand skincare products marketed creatively and in consideration of their individuality. Not one spearing directly into inadequacies whether they choose five products or 17.