Cosmetics and personal care products companies: don’t forget the men

Our latest study in the personal care and cosmetics space showed the vast majority of men are making their own purchase decisions - and these decisions aren’t based on brand.

According to a Nielsen study, 89% of women across the world reported controlling or sharing daily shopping needs, compared to only 41% of men. While most brands have long known about - and catered to - the purchase power of women, this dynamic is shifting, especially in certain categories like personal care products and cosmetics. 

Our recent study, encompassing 1000 men in the U.K. and U.S., showed that 84% of men make their own purchases when it comes to personal care products, such as hair styling, skin care, cosmetics and cologne. What’s more, they’re looking for a very specific value proposition surrounding these products. First and foremost, they want the product to work well, with 89% of men in the U.K (76% in the U.S.) saying this was their number one consideration. Secondly, men care about price, with 81% of men saying this was also in the top two factors they weigh when making a decision to buy.

Price and performance far outweighed any other considerations, including brand which came in at a distant third at 52%. This aligns with many other conversations in the marketing and market research spaces over the past decade: brand loyalty is on the decline. However, at more than half still considering this factor, it can’t be ignored completely.

It seems that men are quite clear on what they want from products in this category. So how can brands stand out? 

Stop assuming you know your audience.

For one, the assumption that women are buying these products for the men in their lives is simply a myth. With a whopping 84% of our respondents indicating that they are buying personal care products on their own, it’s time to start marketing directly to them. But, as good primary research has proven time and time again, consumer groups are not homogenous. You need data from your target audiences, and you need a good way to analyze and report on it, so that you can best develop and market your products.

Include men in your business strategy.

Cosmetics and personal care products companies have, understandably, focused a huge amount of energy on the women’s market. Men are seeking out these products, to protect their skin and hair (62%), give themselves a confidence boost (49%) and solve specific issues (42%), among other factors. These are important drivers to purchase and with men making decisions in this category, it’s time to include them and create offerings that will resonate with their needs.

Do the research to understand the intricacies of what men want.

There’s been a big shift toward organic, sustainable, cruelty-free products in the cosmetic industry. Consumers are demanding it, and companies know it is the right thing to do. Our research found that these considerations are a bit lower on the list for men (average importance of 28%), but don’t make any assumptions here. These are critical issues that can alienate audience members if not navigated properly. Here’s a place where targeted, multi-level research can help you really dig into the data to understand the subtleties of men’s preferences in the personal care products space.

Men are making the decisions when it comes to personal care products and cosmetics. While this audience can prove to be complex, it’s clear that they know what they want in this category. They aren’t focused on brand, so personal care product companies need to find ways to stand out, starting with a foundation of solid consumer insights. 

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