It is hard to overlook that male consumers are playing a more and more important role in the cosmetic industry which is traditionally associated with women. The increasing demand for cosmetics by modern men represents not only a lucrative market but also an interesting and complex phenomenon that deserves further analysis. This essay first looks at the development of male cosmetics from a historical aspect. It then goes deep into cultural factors contributing to the movement. The impact of media and advertising is also mentioned, together with gender differences in consumer behavior. Finally, the essay touches upon the currently available range of products and the predicted trend in the future. The extent of changes in male cosmetics and the reasons behind will be explored throughout the article.

It was not until more recently that applying cosmetics had become a taboo for men. Primitive men used scented oils for religious ceremonies and rituals. Around 4000-3000 B.C., the ancient male and female Egyptians provided the first archaeological proof of using products to alter their appearance. The main purpose of wearing cosmetics at that time was to promote health and spirit, and such practice was considered genderless. If we move the timeframe up to the 17th and 18th centuries, aristocratic men were actually making up as much as women were doing. However, makeup and wigs were forbidden for men after the French Revolution. The hostility continued to surge in the 19th century, as the mainstream value suggested that using cosmetics was a threat for virility. “Only dandies, artists or homosexuals may transgress those unwritten rules.” Hence, male grooming products were mainly confined to basic toiletries. Antiperspirants and deodorants came on the scene in the 1890s, and razors were also invented around that time, followed by a blooming shaving industry in the 20th century. A major transition took place in the late 1990s and into the 21st century. “Metrosexual” and “ubersexual” are among the terms coined to define this new generation of men who are stylish, confident and masculine. Sales of skin care products for men are predicted to grow by 18 per cent globally between 2006 and 2011, when the market is expected to be worth $25 billion.

The influence of culture on consumer behavior is well recognized. It is especially true in terms of cosmetic consumption, as these products are tools for maintaining self-concept and image, and the definition of an attractive appearance varies throughout different times and nations. Supporting this argument, Mort identified an increase in individuality between the young men of the 1950s and the 1980s expressed through the use of cosmetics. Men’s attitude towards grooming is also modified by lifestyle. “Eighty-nine percent of men in North America and Europe believe that good grooming is essential to their professional success,” says Cherry Robinson, a founder of the Mensgroom skin-care line. Likewise, Liu points out that career-oriented men are more concerned with appearances, and they are turning to cosmetics and beauty treatments to improve their looks. Women provide an additional force behind the change. Sensitive men who care about their looks are now in favor, instead of those who possess only the characteristics of the traditional male. The fact that men around the world have different approaches to male grooming solidifies the view of cultural impact even further.

The media and marketing campaigns are responsible for the emergence of aesthetically conscious men. In the last 20 years, men are increasingly targeted by and exposed to media, in which images of physically appealing men do not necessarily portray the stereotypical icon of masculinity. Many companies successfully use famous male actors or sportsmen to sell cosmetic products. Similarly, the delicate look turns in vogue through endorsement by celebrities, such as David Beckham in the United Kingdom and Takuya Kimura in Japan. TV program “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” serves as another example showing that a heterosexual male can be into skin care and still hold traditional values. However, men represent a very different and yet difficult demographic, when it comes to marketing. They are more likely to shop functional but not aesthetical products and are less susceptible to impulse purchasing. Will King, CEO of King of Shaves believes that “creating a language that men understand, educating them and supplying products that work for them is crucial to winning men over”. Other retailers put emphasis on creating a comfortable environment that does not embarrass or scare away male costumers. Despite discrepancy in marketing strategies, the consensus is not to group men into a homogeneous category or neglect their individuality. “There is no generic approach to marketing to men,” says Nick Gray, business development director at Design Bridge, “so you have to have all angles covered.”

Modern men are provided with a variety of dedicated skin care products, but do they really need them? Gender differences in human skin do exist, with men having a thicker epidermis, more collagen but less hydration, and more sebum production, only to name a few. Therefore, it is imprudent of men to borrow skin products from female companions as what their counterparts did decades ago, especially when there is an extensive range of products designed to meet their needs. Nevertheless, despite a growing willingness by men to spend time and money on their appearance, the largest sectors remain the classic toiletries products, such as razors, pre- and after-shaves, and deodorants. This indicates strong market potential in other segments, and manufacturers still need to make more efforts figuring out men’s evolving grooming habits. According to Taya Tomasello from Mintel Beauty Innovation, there is rapid growth in four areas of advanced male grooming: lip-, eye- and hand-specific products; makeup and self-tanning; anti-ageing and exfoliating ingredients; and organic, natural and ethical products. In other words, the complexity of skin care products for men is on its way catching up, and even colour cosmetics are no longer a female preoccupation. Bear this in mind, and you will not be surprised when reading the latest news that men from London are queuing up at the Shu Uemura and Blink lash bars in Selfridges for false eyelashes!

In conclusion, using cosmetics is no longer considered as an effeminate practice for modern males. The influence of culture, media, and advertising all contributes to the growing market in the male grooming category. However, the sector might still be in its infancy, and further growth of sales and an extensive range of new launches are to be expected in the future. Manufacturers and retailers have recognized the trend and are trying relentlessly to make the most profit from it, but even for the majority of those who are not directly involved in cosmetic production, this ongoing boom in the male cosmetics is still provocative and worth to keep an eye on.



文化背景對消費行為的影響早已確立,就化妝品消費而言,兩者的關係更是密不可分。使用化妝品的目的之一就是維持自我形象,而所謂「有吸引力的外貌」,其定義則隨著時代與地域而改變。Mort便發現透過化妝品的使用,1980年代的年輕男性比1950年代的同齡男性表現了更高的獨立性與個人風格。男人如何看待梳妝打扮也與生活模式有關,Cherry Robinson—Mensgroom護膚系列的創始者—指出:「有高達百分之八十九的北美和歐洲男性認同適宜梳妝對事業發展的重要性。」同樣的,Liu的研究證實了事業心強的男性較重視外貌,而他們往往不惜藉助化妝品和美容療程來改善外觀。身為大多數男人意欲取悅的族群,女性在這個趨勢中也並未袖手旁觀,單單具有傳統男性特質已經不再吸引人,敏感細心、著重外表的男人才是當代女性心目中的白馬王子。此外,全球各地男性對化妝品的態度大異其趣,也進一步證實了文化的確影響著這項消費行為。

對於這群愛美男士的誕生,媒體及商業促銷得負很大的責任。在過去廿年間,愈來愈多的報導與廣告都鎖定了男人,而其中所呈現的理想形象往往不見得是傳統崇尚的陽剛男人味。許多廠商聘用知名演員或運動員為商品代言,成功獲得男性消費者的認同,而在如英國的大衛貝克漢以及日本的木村拓栽等名流的引領下,細緻柔美的外貌轉而成為風潮。另一個範例是電視節目"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy",它傳遞給異性戀男性的訊息是重視護膚與保有傳統性別價值間並無衝突。然而在消費市場上,男性是個非常不同也十分棘手的族群,他們偏向購買機能性而非裝飾性商品,也比較不容易從事衝動型購物。King of Shaves的執行長Will King認為,要贏得男性消費者的心,必須要創造出一個他們能懂的語言來教育他們,並提供對他們真正有用的產品。其他商家則試著把重點放在塑造友善的購物環境,讓男性消費者在選購保養品或化妝品時不會沒安全感或不好意思。儘管促銷手法千奇百怪,大家的共識是別把男人簡單歸為同一大類而忽略了他們的個人需求。「向男人賣東西並無單一的通殺之計,你必須要面面俱到。」Design Bridge的商業發展指揮Nick Gray說。

現代男性面對了各式各樣專門為他們設計的護膚產品,但他們真的需要它們嗎?事實上,人類的皮膚確實存在著性別差異,舉例來說,男人的表皮層較厚,膠原蛋白較多但含水量較少,皮脂腺分泌較旺盛。所以,在有這麼多專屬產品可供選擇的前提下,男人不該再像數十年前一樣,隨意借女性家人或朋友的護膚產品來使用。然而,即便男性愈來愈願意花錢及花時間在外觀上,對化妝品及保養品的接受度愈來愈高,最大的商品區塊還是落在傳統盥洗用品如刮鬍刀、刮鬍水、除臭劑等等,這顯示了其他區塊仍有很大的成長空間,而廠商們必須努力些才能掌握男人仍在演化中的梳妝習慣。根據來自Mintel美妝創新部門的Taya Tomasello所提供的資訊,男性市場中有四個成長迅速的區塊:眼、唇、手部的專屬商品,裝飾性化妝品及仿晒劑,抗老及去角質成份,以及有機、自然、有良心的商品。換言之,男性護膚產品的複雜度正在急起直追,甚至連彩色化妝品都不再為女人所獨佔。倘若能了解這個趨勢,在讀到來自倫敦的一則最新報導時,就不會大驚小了:在排隊搶購Selfridges百貨植村秀專櫃及Blink lash bars所販售假睫毛的人群中,竟有為數不少的男性消費者!

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