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Australasian cosmetics markets still a 'blokes thing'

By Simon Pitman , 17-Jul-2006

Although the market for male-specific cosmetics products in Australia and New Zealand has grown enormously in recent years, experts say that the characteristics of the market mean that 'the bloke's bloke still reigns supreme'.

The average male spent US$29 per head on personal care products in 2005, including razors, hair gels, body washes, and deodorants, according to the latest figure from Euromonitor - a figure that is now not that far behind the average US$31 spent per head in the US market, which is the world's most developed.

"Credited with men's newfound involvement in the beauty market is the rise of the metrosexuality, a consciousness of image and appearance that is driving many aflluent youn city dwelling males to experiment with products traditionally reserved for women," writes Euromonitor's Diana Dodson.

But as has been discovered in leading European markets, such as the UK, the rush to tap into this rapidly evolving market does not necessarily mean that marketers should go full throttle, trying to push increasinly sophisticated products on a male consumer market that is not ready for it.

According to Euromonitor sales of men's grooming products reached A$374 million (US$288 million) in Australia last year and NZ$80 million (US$57 million) in New Zealand, increases of 46 per cent and 54 per cent respectively on 2001 figures.

But this increase does not necessarily mean that Australian men are becoming metrosexual 'en masse'. According to Euromonitor's data, the story behind this significant increase in sales is the result of a shift from unisex products to male-specific varieties, which indicates that a proportion of these sales may just represent a category shift and no great increase in overall value.

Indeed, breaking the 2005 figures down, it appears that over 91 per cent of those sales still account for products that have always been mainstays within the category - specifically deodorants, shaving products and blades.

Dodson suggest that the demography and male social values within the region also indicate that the big metrosexual hype of the past few years may have been exactly that.

"Both Australia and New Zealand have significant rural populations and agriculture remains a major industry for many of the region's men," Dodson writes. "With national sports including rugby union and league, it is strength and speed that many males admire and aspire to have, not smooth skin or trendy hair."

Although there is the potential for more sophisticated male grooming products to take more root in the region, the key is to keep it fuss-free and simple, while giving a clear benefit and a purpose.

Epitomising these requirements has been the newly launched Nivea for Men range in New Zealand. Nivea launched a basic skin care and grooming range in 2005 to significant success and says it is now set to launch more sophisticated products, including oil control and a sensitive skin range on the back of that success.

Likewise, Dodson also points to the success of brand extensions.

"Men are more brand-conscious than women and are likely to be less intimidated by a product label they are already familiar with," she says.

An example of this is Rexona, which leveraged its reputation in the deodorant category to launch a skin care rang, Essentials for Men to great success by using New Zealand cricket captain Stephen Fleming to promote the product.

However, new brands are appearing on the market, as evinced by the Eyre BioBotanics range, which has been soft launched in Australia in the past few months.

A basic range of shaving and skin care products, the range is marketed using minamilist branding and design designed to appeal to the Australian male. The company is planning an international retail lauch beginning next year.

Essentially it appears that the key elements to successfully marketing new men's grooming products in Australasia is basically the same as it has been in other developing market - keep the product simple, don't make the range too elaborate at the start and stick to familiar branding.

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