As March Madness starts coming to a close, marketers in male-oriented categories begin to prepare their plan for the next sports window to drive an incremental sales lift. However, there are many missed opportunities when the focus is primarily on old male stereotypes.
Today’s male consumer has become much more complex, and in many cases, their behaviors and needs have begun shifting closer to female consumers. In personal care, where men have traditionally been uninvolved, they are now acting as the primary decision-maker. The way brands currently shape communications targeting men may soon begin to lose their influence as they are planning for the wrong conversations.
1. Blurry Definitions of Masculinity
Historically, there have been a few safe territories brands emphasized when talking to men: performance, sports, cars, and attracting scantily clad women. Athletes, celebrities, and models represented the ideal depictions of masculinity for years and many brands today still push out the same pitch – use our product to be as manly as these men. However, there has been a drastic shift over the last decade where men are falling out of the traditional definitions of masculinity.
As more women enter the workforce, men are no long the primary breadwinner at home, and Millennial fathers have shown greater interest in spending time at home to be involved in raising children. Major male role models today are less Arnold Schwarzenegger and more Jesse Eisenberg. Industries such as fashion have begun adapting to better deliver clothing and apparel designed for changing demands from men.
2. Shifting Shopper Roles
Personal care brand Old Spice has previously found success in convincing women to buy their products for their men to smell more like a man. However, the personal care category studies conducted by Unilever found that roughly 70% of men purchase products for themselves directly. While women are still the primary grocery shopper in their household, more men are taking on shopping responsibilities with Food Marketing Institute (FMI) reporting that 31% became the primary grocery shopper.
Although women tend to spend more time in the store browsing, men are still primarily mission-oriented and tend not to browse as much. However, while they make less frequent trips to the store, FMI has found that men are spending more per trip likely because they are shopping with specific products in mind before entering the store.
3. How Brands Have Shifted the Conversations
Axe was a brand many Millennial men grew up with and had become used to the premise of the “Axe effect” where each spray was designed to attract women. However, as Millennial men matured, they began to branch away from Axe as the brand still felt too juvenile for them. In the brand’s latest effort to target more mature men, they have been forced to shift the conversation from the spray being what made them attractive to instead highlight the appeal of an individual’s “magic” personality.
While that is a positive step forward, brands like Carl’s Jr. still stick to their old habits of trying to associate their burgers with supermodels. The brands that manage to find a way to communicate to men beyond using tropes will open new opportunities to be relevant and gain loyal advocates for their products.