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Men's Grooming - The Underdog of Beauty Industry Men are becoming more aware of self-grooming, body image and hygiene and this is what has opened a plethora of opportunities for businesses

By Shankar Prasad

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The Need for Skin Care is Universal

The modern man is taking a keen interest in caring for his skin, which is gradually losing its "girly' tag, and rightfully so considering-- our skin is the largest organ in the human body and works to protect men and women alike. It bears the brunt of a deteriorating environment and harsh UV rays, further compounded by the toxins it absorbs through the products we apply on our body.

With thicker, tougher and oilier skins than women (in general), men face a distinct set of challenges when it comes to their skin health. Add shaving as a skin sensitizing activity, and you have a "tough" job on hand.

Men have typically been less articulate about (and more tolerant of) their skin care concerns, unlike women who have graduated to 7-step beauty regimens with ease. But all this is changing.

The Changing Landscape of the Men's Grooming

Statista pegs the estimated size of the global male grooming market to be worth about US$ 29.14 billion by 2024 revealing the potential the industry holds as well as the rising global demand. So what's driving this growth?

Awareness -- An increasing number of men are leaning towards looking well-groomed and drawing greater self-confidence from looking good. No longer limiting themselves to just musky shaving products & deodorants, more men are unabashedly becoming habitual users of products like face masks, scrubs, eye serums, facial cleansers, moisturizers and even bronzers which are specially designed for them.

Re-Shaped by Technology – The increased exposure brought on by the age of social media plays a significant role in consumers putting more stock in looking good at all times. Men are becoming more aware of self-grooming, body image and hygiene. E-commerce alongside has increased penetration of the online market, allowing easy accessibility to a rapidly growing product range to choose from.

And it's Not Just Looking Good, But Doing Good That Matters

The surge in beauty blogs and social media influencers have also given rise to more transparent exposure fuelling a type of conscious consumerism. The global market for vegan cosmetics will be worth $20.8 billion by 2025, and progress at a CAGR of 6.3% during the forecast period, according to a report by Grand View Research.

Wanting to be Good -- The organic and vegan beauty movement especially played a large role to build consumer awareness about beauty and wellness products helping to bring the male customer base in its fold. Growing conversations around environment-friendly, ethically produced and cruelty-free skin-care products is finding greater resonance with young men who are choosing to align themselves with brands whose ethos they identify with.

Demanding Better – Living in the age of information, everyone, especially the younger generation, is increasingly inclined towards self-care and grooming. Armed with far more access to information than before, the awareness of the benefits of self-care through cleaner, safer and natural products is on the rise. Today's men are finding it easier than their predecessors to accept and trust products which are free of harmful ingredients like parabens, phthalates, heavy metals, propylene glycol etc. With e-commerce taking these products mainstream, natural is easily available everywhere further stimulating demand and breaking inhibition barriers.

"Underdogs" not for long

The size of the grooming industry for men is certainly smaller when compared to the women's skin care and grooming industry, but over time this gap is projected to decrease.

The industry is affected by stereotypes that inhibit progress. Men are still uneasy with references to the products as "beauty range" so marketing, packaging and branding of the men's "grooming" range must strike a fine balance in design and advertising so as not to turn the male consumer off with the femininity of names or slender delicate looking bottles.

This is a problem of perception, so much so that industry giants, whose names are associated fundamentally with the women's beauty range, face resistance in acceptance of their range of products designed for men.

This is also bringing newer players to enter the field allowing for diverse offerings and further segmentation.

There is also a recent subtle shift in the marketing approach and new-age businesses are steering away from hyper-masculinity in their messaging -- leaving variations of beer, combat and gasoline alone, marketers are leaning towards a better understanding of the male consumers and more intelligent marketing to help de-tag men's beauty regime from being "unmanly".

Safe skincare holds equal important for men as well as women. Factors that will act as accelerants to unleash the promised potential of this industry are:

  • Products specifically designed for men, keeping their skin's biological needs in mind

  • Straight-forward advertising and branding

  • Safe ingredients and ethical practices

  • Selling on digital platforms

  • Transparency

  • Hassle-free convenience products

The male grooming market is at an inflexion point with large and small players alike entering the arena and the online market witnessing alongside the emergence of many niche startups with vegan, organic and all-natural offerings to cater to the male consumer segment. Standing at the cusp of growth with up to a 25% growth rate per annum, the shelves promise to get lined with increasingly exciting and diverse product range giving men the glow of good health.

Shankar Prasad

CEO & Founder, Plum & PHY

I'm a Chemical Engineer from IIT Bombay and my first love is still science & technology. After 8 years at HUL working in manufacturing and product development, I completed my MBA from the ISB, Hyderabad. MBA after 8 years of working was a fantastic experience, and I also secured the gold medal in my batch. After my MBA, I was a management consultant at McKinsey for 2 years - I served FMCG and financial services clients. My financial services work took me to Everstone Capital, where I worked on several of Everstone's consumer sector investments as part of the ops team. I also got the opportunity to be part of the founding team for FACES Cosmetics in India. 
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