Manly men? The male grooming market in Australia

While the average man may not be blow-drying and straightening his hair or carefully applying foundation, blush and mascara, don’t be fooled – men are currently stealing their fair share of time in front of the bathroom mirror. Preening, plucking and applying are three words that are no longer just applicable to the female beauty routine.

The changing market

While they still may be a long way behind women when it comes to beauty product purchases, Natio for Men product development manager, Allison Harvey, says new research from Roy Morgan shows that a greater proportion of Millennial men are using and buying skincare products than ever before. In fact, there are now just over one million Millennial men (34% of Millennial men) who both use skincare products and also buy some type of skincare product in an average six months.

The main reason, according to Harvey, is that with the metro return to men’s barbers and facial hair grooming trending, there is a noticeable shift towards manscaping and grooming. Generally men are growing more conscious of ageing as well – which is where the growth in men’s sun care is gaining momentum. More men understand the role that sun protection plays within their skincare routine and overall skin health and are seeing results that quality skincare can deliver.

HANDSOME Men's Skincare product & marketing manager, Kristen Reid, told BD she is also seeing a considerably strong growth trend in the gifting segment of the men’s pharmacy skincare market.

“I think this shows that men are more likely to accept and appreciate the gift of skincare, whereas a few years ago I can’t imagine that would have been so mainstream,” Reid said. “It could also be to do with the trial opportunity of a gift set at better value. With our HANDSOME skincare gift packs, we always provide great value as well as mini versions of our best selling products. We are seeing really strong traction with these due to the fact that guys are looking to try out a skincare range and don’t want to dive into a full size regime to start with.”

Growth over the years

The male grooming market in Australia has grown rapidly over the last few years. In terms of pharmacy channel sales, in 2019 the male skincare market reached $9.6 million, whereas this year it soared to $10.1 million. Reid says that growing at +5% in a global pandemic is a huge achievement for a category in its infancy, when compared to the female and unisex skincare markets. At HANDSOME, the brand is currently seeing a lot of opportunity and space to play and grow in this sector.

“The facial skincare segment is by far the largest over men’s body care and men’s gifting,” Reid said. “Men’s facial skincare makes up over 90% of the sales in the category and is growing by 6.1% versus last year. Within that facial skincare segment, creams and moisturisers have the biggest piece of the pie with over 48% share and sales of $4.9 million. The next largest is scrubs with 12% share, but growing at a huge 27.8%.”

More brands are expanding into the male grooming industry because it is still growing strongly and represents a huge market. Harvey believes there is more focus and opportunity with male consumers as the modern man evolves. According to her, men are blessed with a higher collagen density to women, regardless of age, so whenever they choose to start caring for their skin, they will have a great base to start with.

And while there has been an influx of new male skincare products and brands in the marketplace, HANDSOME prides itself on being designed specifically for men and men only.
“It’s quite unique in the market at the moment,” Reid said. “We are really excited that there is more activity in this space as it shows our customer that it’s okay to be a man and want to have great skin.”

Consumer profile

Although men may still be hesitant to pick up some beauty products for their lady friends, the same cannot be said for women.

“With HANDSOME, we see in our retail partner’s sell out data that over 50% of our sales are purchased by female shoppers,” Reid said. One reason for this could be that females love shopping for the men in their lives, whether that be a partner, son, father or friend. Reid said women are certainly encouraging the men in their lives to take a little more care of their skin and are probably being influenced by all the great products and brands coming into this space and that are available where they love to shop.

Harvey agreed, adding, “It’s no secret that in Australia, women influence over three-quarters of retail purchasing decisions. So potentially yes, some men are influenced by women to purchase products and brands. At Natio, we do strongly believe that the best way to attract customers to experience our products is through honest, organic recommendations. However, it is likely more attributable to the changing media landscape and cultural shifts towards caring and looking after the body you are in.”

Male grooming trends

With more and more men buying grooming products, it's interesting to see what exact items they're purchasing. The current trends for men’s grooming revolve around the need for hassle-free, easy, uncomplicated skincare – particularly products with multi-purpose benefits, according to Reid.

“Guys don’t want 17 different steps in their skincare routine,” she told BD. “Females are much more likely to try new products and add new steps to their routine, whereas guys are happy to have a few really great items that work really well for what they want daily. At HANDSOME, we really try to make sure we can provide a ‘HANDSOME version’ of each product our customer needs in his life, while not overloading him.”

And while this trend has always been prevalent, Reid has noticed a shift over the years, saying that with HANDSOME sales, customers have become slightly more adventurous, wanting to try new and different products. For instance, while the HANDSOME Facial Moisturiser was the best-seller for a long time, the Charcoal Face Buff has been selling extremely well since its launch a year ago. This, Reid says, potentially comes down to a few factors: the multi-purpose nature of this product being a scrub and a mask, and the fact that men can see a real difference in how their skin looks and feels straight after using it.

Meanwhile, Natio for Men is seeing a growing trend towards sun care, partly because the brand believes it’s never been more socially acceptable for men to use skincare, with Australian men adapting to this trend at great rates.

“In Australia, the sun can be harsh and damaging to skin, so we are seeing significant growth in sun protection for daily facial use and this has grown steadily as more men understand that sun protection is a non-seasonal product and can help to address signs of ageing, as well as being beneficial for fighting UVA/UVB rays to keep skin happy and healthy,” Harvey said. “The consumer data also points to a shift to independent, Australian made brands, particularly with younger millennial consumers.”

There also appears to be a significant cultural shift towards self-care and evolving masculinity, which has been gaining momentum from as early as 2017. Harvey revealed this has provided more opportunities for brands to work with men and develop products that provide real solutions for their lives. 

“Generally men are loyal to a skincare brand and many brands understand that is what makes the male consumer somewhat more elusive,” she added. “Providing men with effective and easy to understand and use products is at the heart of the Natio for Men brand – specifically designed for male skin and addressing skin concerns.”

BD also recommends the following brands for men: Flick OnsNIVEA MenSpeickUrbane MessVS Sassoon for MenClarinsMen rangeDe Lorenzo Dman rangeEssano MAN rangeinnisfree Forest for Men rangeMedik8 for Men rangeSynergie Skin For Men rangeArbonne RE9 Advanced for Men rangeThe Body Shop For Men Maca Root range and System Professional MAN range.