That expert is Simon Duffy, co-founder of ‘Bulldog Natural Skincare’, the fastest growing men's skin care brand in the UK, who reckons that despite recent research indicating that men are abandoning grooming because of unemployment statistics; the main issue lies with the brands.
In this, the seventh edition of Cosmetics Design's 'Voice of the Industry' series, the ambitious young entrepreneur discusses why sluggish growth in the sector is not just down to the economy, and how his young company has managed to place itself above industry giants like Gillette, by speaking to men in the right way.
Back in 2006, Duffy and business partner Rhodri Ferrier set up Bulldog in an effort to 'speak to men in a new way' and it is clear their efforts have paid off in that it has become the fastest growing brand in the skin care category in the UK and is giving the bigger segment players a run for their money on both a domestic and international scale.
According to the entrepreneur, what frustrated him most about the report was the perspective that it was all down to the consumer being at fault for the category failing to take off.
“From a grooming industry perspective it would be remissive of us just to blame sluggish growth rates on unemployment. I’m sure they play a factor but we have to look a lot more closely at what we as brands are doing in this sector,” he tells this publication.
“Are we really unlocking the true potential in this category about how we view our brand and then communicating that with men?,” he adds.
Here, Simon reveals what it is his brand is doing right in this area and how it is just at the cusp of becoming a major contender, particularly in the UK markets.
'Historically, skin care brands have not done a good job at communicating with men’
The context of that report, Duffy says, should have been to focus more on whether the macroeconomic climate plays out uniquely badly in grooming or throughout all male focused sectors.
“Anecdotally I’m looking around at other brands that talk to men, such as sports nutrition or online retail, and they’re really taking off and certainly not being held back by market conditions,” he says.
The CEO reckons the problem for the male skin care segment is that big personal care players in the UK are all approaching men in a similar way and despite their efforts, less men are engaging than not.
“I think with skin care brands, it's down to the fact that they haven’t done a good job at it, rather than men being inherently difficult to communicate with,” he says outright.
Female brands doing 'for men' versions aren’t working either
According to the Bulldog boss, female brands introducing ‘for men’ versions don't appear to be capturing potential consumers either in that they are inherently female, and are at best targeting the existing male consumer as just 1 in 4 or 5 men are really engaging with the category.
"If you are say, Unilever and you decide to go into men’s skincare and you look at the female focused brands you have like Dove and that’s your focus, then that might resonate well with women when they are shopping because they know it from their own experience," he explains.
"But when you look at their performance in the market that’s a strategy that doesn’t really play out because Bulldog is ahead of Dove on pretty much every metric in spite of the fact that we don’t have as much distribution at the moment and no heritage in female categories," he adds.
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