'You're Looking Mansome Today'

Recently, I watched Morgan Spurlock’s “Mansome.” It was part lesson on the history of men’s grooming, part study of extreme behaviors, and part funny guys poking fun. What was most striking to me though was the contrast between the attitudes of contemporary men at two ends of a spectrum. On one end are those obsessively focused on their appearance; on the other, those who see almost any grooming not directed at sexual conquest as an un-masculine indulgence.

While most of today’s men live on neither end of this spectrum, there is evidence they are being pulled by some unseen gravitational force — if not toward a grooming obsession, certainly toward being more engaged shoppers with a growing taste for luxury and fashion. 

An Increasing Engagement with Shopping 

Retailers, who have long referred to a shopper as “she,” might find its time for a change of lexicon since it turns out, in some cases, men are out-shopping women, particularly online.

  • Data for the most recent Black Friday reported by the National Retail Federation indicated the average male spent 50% more offline than the average female - and 100% more online.
  • Chris Ventry, the general manager of Gilt Groupe's GiltMan, told CNBC the growth rate of men shopping online has outpaced women, with guys outspending the ladies by 20 to 30%.

  • And data from iProspect about the nation’s 19 million affluent males (earning at least $100,000 a year) says their wallets are at the ready. A full 40% shop online twice per week, with 45% spending more than $4,000 per year and 13% spending more than $30,000. Men also spend 20 to 30% more per transaction than women.



A Growing Taste for Luxury

After years of softness, the U.S. luxury market is seeing recovery this year, with growth predicted at 5-7%. That growth is coming, more than in the past, from men. In March, CNBC reported that the men’s luxury market is outperforming the women’s in all categories. 

Luxury menswear is on the leading edge of this growth trend. Bain & Company reported growth of about 14% per year for this segment — nearly double the pace of luxury women’s wear. And affluent men aren’t driving this trend alone. In fact, spending on luxury fashion among average (non-affluent) men is growing more quickly than it is among either affluents or their non-affluent female counterparts. 

A Pinteresting Statistic

A new survey shows that male users are more than twice as likely to make a purchase off Pinterest as female users. In a June 2012 survey by Compete, 37% of men reported having bought something after discovering it on the site compared to 17% of women. Recognizing male Pinterest users are a small universe, this still says something interesting about how men are using the site. 

I’d guess these behaviors would baffle some of the more traditional men featured in “Mansome,” but they point to changing attitudes and changing expectations that have important implications for marketers. 

  • First, as men get more attuned to luxury, their values recalibrate. Make sure you recognize they are becoming more appreciative of experience and values more traditionally seen as female.
  • As men play more significant roles as shoppers, be mindful that they expect to be treated as significant. They no longer want to be relegated to a corner of a floor devoted to women. Instead, they want a masculine shopping environment with unique merchandise, displays and design that speaks to them.

  • That shopping environment needs to exist across all channels, from the store to the website to your presence on tablet and mobile.
  • Recognize the unique value of a male online shopper. Megan Grant, senior vice president of marketing for Kiehl's, told CNBC that Kiehl’s men's business online has doubled that of in-store, and, once men make a purchase, they are more likely than women to purchase again, with a 53% retention rate. They are also more likely to buy in bulk and more frequently than women.

  • Despite doing more shopping, men still aren’t as confident in their choices. Think about how you can provide a service by editing and curating selections for them. Men’s retail sites and have found success by increasing editorial content to educate and build confidence.

  • Finally, I think the Pinterest data probably relates to that last point. Men might be buying more off Pinterest because items are pre-selected and pre-endorsed by someone else — whether a friend or spouse. Think about how you leverage opinions and endorsements to make men feel better about a purchase.
2 comments about "'You're Looking Mansome Today' ".
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  1. Henry Harteveldt from Atmosphere Research Group, September 27, 2012 at 3:51 p.m.

    Not so sure that has "found success." Gilt announced plans to close the site:

  2. Steve Smith from Firehouse, October 2, 2012 at 8:49 a.m.

    Interesting. Thanks for the update. Hadn't heard that, though personally I find the site stupid-expensive. Have to say I won't miss it, unlike Gilt whose absence I would certainly mourn.

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