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In today’s world, where even the most rugged of movie stars have perfectly disheveled hair and five o’clock shadows, and our athletic stars a la LeBron James and Tom Brady are as known for their personal style as they are for their athletic prowess, it’s no surprise that a growing number of men from all corners of the globe are turning to beauty treatments and regimens, whether the newest creams and serums or going under the knife. Some may call it vanity, but just as women feel the need to keep up with social pressures of looking good and staying youthful, men are succumbing as well. Brands like The Art of Shaving and even Massage Envy are sending the message that thinking about personal style and appearance isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As a result, the men’s grooming industry is becoming about more than just getting clean.
Western culture is leading the charge to emerging markets — Euromonitor International, a London-based market research firm, states that “one third of men spend more than 30 minutes grooming,” a figure that may seem surprising to some. But as acceptable grooming habits for men broaden, savvy companies across the globe are focusing new product development on the growing men’s market. In some countries, such as Turkey and The United Arab Emirates, where the traditional role of masculinity does not encourage the use of beauty products, young, educated men are beginning to understand the importance of grooming in social and professional settings; here, categories like skin and hair care are growing. Brands with a strong presence, especially in categories such as deodorants and shaving, have increased market share up to 39 percent. According to Euromonitor International, it’s driven by countries with a majority of the population are men. Interestingly, those countries with higher market share in grooming products also have a high number of expats, who have no concerns about the perception of masculinity with a good skincare regimen. This group sees the value of proper grooming habits and has the disposable income to buy it.
The biggest market share in the US, as in many parts of the world, is held by Procter & Gamble, with $2.5B in sales. With their stable brands of Gillette, Old Spice, and Clairol, decidedly low to mid-tier, they have the built in trust of their established consumer on which to grow their men’s grooming business. Could there be a men’s skin care line next to your favorite shaving cream in the drugstore at some point? If they were smart, which they are, I’m sure it’s in the works. And while they face competition from brands with higher ticket prices, such as Kiehl’s, Alford & Hoff, and Dr. Harris, there is a long way to go to catch up. But still, there is the conspicuous consumer who does not want to invest in a beauty regime at CVS or Walgreens. They want to read about the latest in GQ, buy it at Neiman Marcus, and brag about it at the latest restaurant or on the golf course.
Plastic surgery is also growing in popularity among men, though few would openly discuss it, and less so in America. In 2013, nine percent of all plastic surgeries procedures in the US were for men, a grand total of 1,249,039. Minimally invasive procedures accounted for eight percent of the total, with microdermabrasion (18 percent) and laser hair removal (18 percent) ranking among the top. Among surgeries (13 percent of total), pectoral implants (no surprise there at 100 percent), hair transplants (71 percent) and calf augmentation (56 percent) were most popular. That total figure is flat to 2012’s numbers, but up a whopping 22 percent from 2000 according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. How to account for the increase? Factors like lower costs and new technologies for both surgeries and cosmetic procedures mean more options and choices for a little nip and tuck or refresh. They are also more affordable and more accessible. While women are still the main customers, changing expectations for men in terms of looking a certain way can definitely satisfy some of the growth. Globally, men account for almost 13 percent of plastic surgery procedures, but fall along similar lines in terms of what procedures they are having. The US and Brazil are close, when it comes to the number of procedures. Mexico is a distant 3rd.
Appearance is the gateway to one’s personal brand – it is the first thing someone sees, and right or wrong, one of the first things we judge (and are judged on). Just as we grow and change in our romantic partnerships, our family and our career, so too should we evolve within that personal style as we age. Whether men have plastic surgery is none of our business; it’s his brand and he can do with it what he wants.
But there is a bigger issue here. As a society we need to value men as they age, and not push them to feel that they have to go under the knife to look younger. And at the same time, we have to stop criticizing those same men for doing just what we have pressured them to do. It is up to each of us to embrace the changes that come with time or do something about them. That is where the magic lies – in being O.K. with whom we choose to be.