Since the advent of metrosexuality, companies have realized that they have a new market to capitalize on men who spend their money on grooming and appearance supplies. Walk through the aisles of any US drugstore, and you'll notice an abundance of male-targeted personal grooming products, such as anti-aging eye-creams, shower gels and formula facial cleansers, slowly monopolizing the shelves.
With so many brands clamoring for their slice of the pie, metrosexuals have out and out become their own market segment. And as sales figures roll in, there is clear evidence that the metrosexual market is indeed quite viable.
"With men becoming more involved with their grooming habits and the explosive growth in the men's segment (dollar volume +49% in 2005), we saw a huge opportunity to introduce the male consumer to a new proposition in skincare," says Carol J. Hamilton, president of the L'Oréal Paris division of L'Oréal USA, Inc., whose Men's Expert line was among the first to hit the mass market a few years ago.
According to L'Oréal Paris' 2005 annual report, men's skincare with its 11% growth in sales was L'Oréal Paris' fastest growing sector. And it's not just a US-based trend. There are numbers that quantify this as a global trend. The same report states only 4% of European men used a skincare product in 1990, compared to a whopping 20% in 2003.
Interestingly, younger men seem to be leading the charge, which points to a generational shift in thinking. In Europe, 24% of men under 30 use skincare products, compared with 20% of the population as a whole. In Japan, some 30% of men under 30 use a skincare product, and in South Korea the figure clocks in at over 80%.
The numbers do not lie. Younger men are clearly more interested in taking care of themselves than their fathers or even their older brothers. But is it because metrosexuality has become more widely accepted by the masses or simply because of their generation's habits?
Edina Sultanik-Silver, owner of BrandPimps and Media Whores, a New York-based men's fashion public relations company, thinks metrosexual tendencies are a sign of the times.
"It's a generational thing. I think that Gen Y and millennial guys view all the creams and grooming preparations out there as OK and perfectly natural for them to use, rather than girly," says Sultanik-Silver. "The guys in these generations get their bodies waxed, work out, style their hair, go to tanning salons, etc., more than their predecessors. Possibly because they were raised on MTV, the Internet and reality shows, every minute of their lives is a photo-op, they always want to look like they're ready for their 15 minutes of fame, and don't think there's anything feminine about that."
So what liberated the inner metrosexual in these young men? Sultanik-Silver thinks it's the marriage between the media and consumerism, producing a sector that will continue to grow for some time.
"It (this trend) was mostly media driven, I believe," says Sultanik-Silver. "Everyone wants a piece of 'the next big thing.' Our popular culture is driven by image and consumerism right now. Word on the street was that men were interested in dressing up more, spending more on clothes, moisturizers, etc. Men's fashion and style were the hot buzz segment of the youth market and as a result, more brands began targeting young men as more retailers begin catering to them. To me, this signals the mainstreamization of metrosexualism," says Sultanik-Silver. "And it's going to continue to grow."
As the success of Men's Expert bears testament, L'Oréal Paris has played an active role in the ongoing mainstreaming of metrosexuals. "In our first year, we brought a significant number of these 'men on the cusp' into the category and we will continue to do so," states Hamilton. "Our efforts, combined with other heavy activity in the category, will mean continued growth for many more years."
Although she agrees that the remaining stigma about men who are keen on grooming is dissolving rapidly, there is still a serious learning curve in regard to marketing to metrosexuals.
"Despite tremendous growth rates over the past several years, the men's treatment segment is still in its infancy," surmises Hamilton. "Today, less than 20% of men use a facial moisturizer. However, another 25% of men today say that they are interested in trying skincare treatments, but have not yet made the leap. On the whole, most men have moved away from any stigma associated with using what could be considered a more female product, but they are still not sure what to do and how to do it."
Young or old, metrosexuals apparently are here to stay. Eventually, the term "metrosexual" might even become dated. Then, metrosexuals simply would be known as men who enjoy their right to groom and shop for clothes.