Grooming is increasingly becoming relevant to men as much it is to women — this is a cumulative impact of better awareness, social acceptance of male grooming, as well as brand innovations to serve the specific needs of the male customer, believes Mrunmay Mehta, category leader, beauty & luxury beauty at Amazon India. She talks about how men are increasingly investing in grooming products such as face care, beard care as evident by the high growth trajectory of male grooming brands such as Ustraa, Set Wet, Bombay Shaving Company etc.
“At Amazon Beauty, we see the male grooming categories growing in high double/triple digits, due to the increasing penetration of digital media and ecommerce channels like Amazon enabling access to customers across the width of the country,” says Mehta, adding that gender neutrality is an increasing trend fuelled by millenials. “Various global and domestic beauty brands like Himalaya, Kama Ayurveda, Forest Essentials, Just Herbs, Biotique, mCaffeine, WOW Skin Science, Ponds, L’Oreal and many more, are adding inclusivity as a part of their brand proposition with multiple offerings for more inclusive colours, whether it is by serving a more diverse colour palette, skin type etc, as well as gender neutral products across fragrances, moisturisers, lip balms, facewash, foundation, BB creams etc,” she says.
Dipali Mathur Dayal, co-founder of Super Smelly, an Indian personal care brand that makes toxin-free products, points out that 50 percent of their consumers are males belonging to various age-groups. “Today’s discerning consumer can easily distinguish between a marketing ploy versus a fundamental belief of the brand on a deeper level and this has encouraged brands like us to bring our stories out. We believe apart from beard grooming and hair loss products, boys and girls don’t need different products. A moisturiser or a facewash is as effective on a boy as it is for a girl and testimony to this lies in our consumer base divided equally between boys and girls,” she says, adding, “Customers today no longer consider the gender but buy basis their concern and ingredients in the products.” The brand makes gender-neutral deodorant sprays, pocket perfumes, face packs, face washes, lip balms, moisturiser and deodorant sticks.
Menka Kirpalani, co-founder at Nicci Skin Care, credits this change in the behaviour of male customers to social media. “This digital era has provided greater information to male consumers along with a plethora of choices to maintain their skin. We have particularly witnessed this increased demand from them across Tier 2 and 3 cities, primarily as they do not have accessibility to such products, and most of them feel the need to maintain a ‘macho’ image due to reservations regarding discussing skin issues with others. They thus turn to brands like ours to understand their skin type, and the right products to use. The increased exposure and the surge in beauty blogs and social media influencers have also led to more transparency, and realising the need for good skincare,” says she, adding, “Under our brand, products that focus on core skin and hair problems like acne, pigmentation, dark-circles, hair fall and lip discolouration are extremely popular among our consumers belonging to all genders. Everyone, regardless of gender, could use certain essential skincare products for gentle cleansing, hydration and protection. Our products comprise all of these facets and are carefully created to meet skincare requirements of all genders. These include sunscreen, detox herbal pack for de-tanning, vitamin C gel/serum, wine gel, aloe vera scrub, and lemon and wine face-wash.”
Demand and supply
Kirpalani talks of how the beauty and wellness industry, having acknowledged this rise in male consumers, is striving to meet this demand with adequate supply of such products that suit both genders. “In fact, a brand like ours is not only offering such products, but also customising them by understanding the exact skin conditions and requirements in order to offer natural (sulphate and paraben free) products that suit both genders,” says she.
Mehta shares that she notices more innovation from both domestic as well as international brands on creating products and ranges which are on trend on themes like good-for-planet as well as fluid gender norms. “We expect the trend to continue growing. Beauty as an industry has had a history of stereotypical norms for women (and men) and in an increasingly more sensitive world, these norms are fast changing. Innovation is hence focused on understanding the new need states, and adapting, formulating, or designing products accordingly to serve this new customer base.
International brands like Chanel, Tom Ford, Gucci, Calvin Klein amongst others have already launched their range of unisex fragrances and a few brands have experimented with new niches like make-up for men,” she informs.
Talking about breaking convention Dayal says, “We have boys who buy our floral and sweet fragrance called Sweet as Sin and girls who love the strong musky deo called Hurricane. It’s just fragrance marketing that has long concentrated on defining genders. The deos are of course equally effective on both genders.” She adds, “A boy’s skin is generally thicker and has bigger pores and that’s the only difference. So facewashes, facepacks, moisturisers, cosmetics, cleansers etc have the same outcome on both the genders. Ingredients that we use like aloe vera, witch hazel, kaolin clay, volcanic ash and so on are equally effective for all. Thus a product should always be purchased basis the concern and not gender.”
Dayal also believes that the biggest enabler for this trend is the present generation being in complete sync with the global trends and how the extensive reach of ecommerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart it is catching up in tier 2 and tier 3 cities as well. Mehta agrees, adding, “As a data point, a majority of new customers today are now coming from smaller, non-metro towns. This stands true for a lot of the unisex brands as well as male grooming products. Trends such as TikTok have heightened the awareness of looking good/fashionable, and this in turn is fuelling demand for beauty and grooming products.”