Retailers to benefit as males adopt female roles, study finds

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on August 18, 2005

As society's gender roles continue to blur, the personal care and beauty industry stands to benefit as more men take an active interest in their appearance, according to a new Datamonitor report that highlights ten major global trends in changing consumer values.

The report, entitled 'Evolution of Global Consumer Trends', highlights what it calls ten "mega trends" based on changing consumer values and attitudes which, in turn, influence buying behaviour.

According to Daniel Bone, consumer market analyst and author of the study, "Only by understanding the new interpretations of these trends can companies remain 'on-trend' in the long-term. Although consumer behaviour is complex, a clear understanding of consumer values, attitudes and behaviours, together with associated product trends provides powerful insight into what drives today's buying habits".

Role anxiety?
The report suggests that the emergence of more complex male consumers who are embracing both effeminate 'metrosexual' values and macho values will have a huge impact on the personal care and dieting industries. With polarised values and behaviours characterising male lives, role anxiety is becoming more apparent.

In other words, men are becoming less certain of their roles, their careers, and even their relationship to family as they reconcile effeminate values with older-fashioned macho values. Bone warns that it is vital that marketers should avoid taking a single-minded view when targeting specific genders - especially males."

Domain invasion
As women continue to enter what many view as traditional male domains, such as the workplace, less macho values have become the norm. The company's World Values Survey highlighted a growing trend toward individuals possessing egalitarian values with regards to gender roles, suggesting there is widespread acceptance. Datamonitor believes that this has contributed to the feminisation of society, and is having a particularly strong impact on male consumer behaviour.

Trading places
The report showed that more European and US men (73%) felt that spending time on personal appearance was 'important' or 'very important' to them than women (72%). It comes as no surprise then that the combined European and US male personal care market is set to rise from some US$31.5 billion in 2003 to US$37.6 billion in 2008.

Across all countries examined by the report, 47% of male respondents indicated that they spent more time on their personal appearance over the course of 2003/2004. This compares favourably to the corresponding female 51%.

New opportunities
Datamonitor also found that men - especially younger generations - are becoming more experimental when it comes to trying out new products and grooming practices, and this offers an array of opportunities for 'on-trend' product development. "Manufacturers need to develop specific male brands and concepts in the grooming arena," said Bone. "Leading industry players are slowly catching onto the demand; for example, L'Oreal Paris has launched the first comprehensive men's anti-aging line to hit mass market retailers."

But appealing to macho values is still important. Traditional ideals of what it is to be a man still persist, and machismo themes still have strong relevance in products such as beer and cars. But despite the growing prevalence of metrosexual behaviours and men valuing the importance of looking good, the feminisation of society is still held in contempt by many men. Even those embracing metrosexual ideals still don't want to be seen to be trying too hard when it comes to anything perceived as effeminate.

The report can be obtained directly from Datamonitor.

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