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Guy Power: How to Tap into the Male Market

Thanks to changing cultural and societal trends, the male market is on a steep upward curve. No longer is the “shopping is for women” mantra true.

The global market for men’s grooming products, as an example, was worth $47 billion in 2015, according to Euromonitor, and is estimated to grow to almost $61 billion by 2020. 

Not exactly chump change.

The Daily Mail reported that in the UK, the market for men’s clothing blasted away the women’s—growing twice as much. It still has a ways to go before it eclipses sales of womenswear, but that’s a huge jump. Guys in the age 25 to 44 bracket are leading the way, out-buying women their age in some instances. 

So how can you tap into this market and make guys the active customers you want them to be?

Start with checking your assumptions.


Assumption #1: Guys don’t shop.

Forbes.com states that “men are outpacing women in several behavioral categories when it comes not only to apparel shopping, but also to the grocery aisle. And where they are not outpacing women, they are narrowing the gap.”

Businesses are taking notice of this trend, and responding. 

In response to demand, 7 out of 10 online retailers have expanded their product lines for men.

In Pennsylvania, the Giant Eagle supermarket chain is striving to simplify shopping trips for men by adding Ace Hardware departments to some of its stores. 

 “The rise of social and digital media has made shopping more accessible and convenient for men, which in-turn has increased their purchasing power. Yet, it’s clear from our research that while men do want to shop they are put off by the overall experience - which could be causing retailers to miss out on vital sales. The good news however, is that the issues men have claimed put them off shopping - such as long queues to pay - can be easily fixed.”

    - George Allardice, Head of Strategy at Barclaycard Payment Solutions

DID YOU KNOW? According to Barclaycard research, men are “reluctant returners.” In fact, only 26% of returns are from men. This means they are potentially a more profitable (and easier to please) market than women, who are responsible for 74% of returns. 

 

Assumption #2: Guys don’t care about how they look.

Back in 1990, only 4% of males would own up to using skin care products. The figure in 2015 was around 50% and the trend continues upward.  

Toiletries for men have evolved from the basics of shaving cream, aftershave and deodorants. Cosmetic companies are bringing out male versions of moisturizers, anti-aging and skin-lightening creams, face washes, concealers, sunscreens and, yes, foundation makeup. 

A report from MarketResearch.com states that, “One of the major factors driving the male toiletries market is the rising trend of the metrosexual men who pay more attention to their appearance and spend significantly on their grooming, clothes and beauty treatments. This has further been influenced by celebrity endorsements of male grooming products and recent fashion trends.”

L’Oréal was so impressed with the potential of the male market that it created a product line exclusively for guys-- the L’Oréal Paris Men Expert label. 

Lancôme created one too, after their research found that males of all ages worried about dry skin (made worse by shaving) and the under-eye bags and loss of firmness due to aging. The company recruited British actor Clive Owen to promote the line—the first time a Hollywood hunk has been brought in to model for male skincare products. 

You can bet he won’t be the last.


Assumption #3: Guys won’t ask for help.

The research says: not true. 

In fact, one study found that when shopping for clothes in a brick-and-mortar store, guys are more likely than gals to ask for help and advice—23% versus 14%. 

In addition, male interest websites, such as Askmen.com, are growing in popularity. This free online men’s web portal and lifestyle magazine has info on everything from guy gear to dating to grooming. It also has an “Ask a Question” section where men pose questions and the Askmen community responds.  

A key point in the question-asking category is this: guys just want the facts, ma’am. 

Because men approach shopping with a particular objective in mind (they’re not normally the browsers that women are), they seek the information they need in order to make a purchasing decision and will reward retailers who provide it. 

HOW TO REACH THE GUYS

Once you’ve abandoned these limiting assumptions, you can take advantage of the following tips and maximize your ability to meet the needs of the male market.  

Invite them in and make them comfortable…

According to Mark Tungate, author of Branded Male, businesses are increasingly “tempting men to hang around rather than taking their usual hit-and-run approach” to shopping. 

So how can you lure the guys to your place of business? 

  • Make like Bloomingdale’s of New York and invite the guys to relax and put their feet up. In departments catering to men, they’ve added comfy seating, sports magazines and TVs.

  • Create a “man aisle.” New York City’s Westside Market noticed that men don’t shop with lists as often as women do. They decided to help the guys out by creating an aisle that has the necessities that men are searching for, like personal care products, snacks, cereal and charcoal, and is also close to the beer section. Smart!

  • Have a fashion show for men. Avant for Men did just that and donated the proceeds to PAWS Chicago, a no-kill animal shelter. Apparently the sight of well-dressed men carrying small dogs down the runway was a big hit, and lots of clothes and dogs found new homes that day. 


Show them the way and make it quick…

The stereotype is that men hate asking for directions. Turns out this generalization is pretty accurate when it comes to guys and shopping. Some say that male shoppers resemble a dog looking for a lost tennis ball in a field. They run back and forth until they find it, mostly by chance. 

A report by America’s Research Group titled “The Lost Male Shoppers,” showed that men avoid department stores, and one of the reasons is that they find them “confusing and difficult to shop.” They also complained that there weren’t enough staff around to help them find what they’re looking for. 

“Speed is essential to men—according to our 2016 report, Buying Happiness, 29% of men will pay a little more to shop stores where they can get in and out quickly.”

    - WSL Strategic Retail


A Barclaycard report stated that 40% of male respondents said they won’t wait more than five minutes to pay for purchases, and will walk out if it takes longer. 

While guys shop plenty online, CNBC reports that 44% of them like to shop at a real live store so they can touch and feel the items. 

So now you’ve got your marching orders. 

Provide clear signage and put informed salespeople front and center so they can answer questions and upsell to men who are very open to “this item goes really well with this item” suggestions. Make it easy for guys to handle the merchandise and provide a number of options for them to choose from. Add a quick checkout procedure and you’ll have the formula for bringing the men around, again and again. 


Brand and market appropriately…

Stocking up on products for men isn’t enough—you have to brand your business in a way that lets guys know you’re their kind of place.

“The more you focus on the function of the product you sell, the less your store matters. Almost anything can be purchased somewhere else for less. Product alone won’t set you apart anymore. Sell your brand first.”

    - Christopher Ramey, Retail Rescue 2018 and Beyond

What are some things you should pay attention to in marketing to men?

Watch your language 

One tested-for-success method is to borrow terms from sports and science when discussing your products and services. Stress functionality. Smart marketers don’t talk about “male personal care.” They talk about “body maintenance for men.” 

See the difference?

In general, men are interested in power and in looking adventurous, strong, and confident. They often think in concrete, action-oriented ways. Use language in your marketing to match, and make benefits relevant to them. 

Guys are also swayed by proof and statistics as long as that information is relevant and credible. 

“With women, you can say, ‘the Celine bag is the must-have bag of the season,’ but if you say something to that effect to a guy, you’ll just a get a blank stare. Five different ways you can wear something, where you can wear something—it’s about facts and practicality. It’s more information than inspiration.”

    - Jeremy Langmead, brand and content director at Mr Porter

Be visual

Ivana Taylor, of DIYMarketers.com, had this to say about guys:

“They’re more of a ‘just tell me what the thing does and what it will do for me’ kind of person, with an emphasis on what it will do for me. That’s why you see so many bodybuilding promotions simply showing the results of their product. For a man, a picture is sometimes all they need. 

When you can, be humorous

In this category, Duluth Trading just nails it. Frank and funny, the “Keep your boys where they belong” ads for Duluth’s Bullpen underwear show that this is a company that is in tune with their target demographic, and because there’s always a chuckle involved, their ads get shared around—amplifying the impact at no extra cost. 


DID YOU KNOW? Men are less likely to bargain hunt. In one study, 71% of women stated that the last product they purchased was on sale, compared to only 57% of men. The guys are also not as likely to use coupons—34% of females use them, but only 26% of males. 


Package with the guys in mind…

Make sure your packaging is guy-friendly. Imagine your male customer walking out the door with it. Is it something that’s going to make him uncomfortable because it’s so frilly/pastel/girly? 

Stick to packaging that is gender-neutral (if your target customer is either sex) or mainly manly (if you are shooting specifically for the male sector). 

What colors should you choose? Good question!

According to Lifewire.com, the top colors for men are black, blue and green. Their least favorite colors? Predictably, pink, but also orange and purple. 

Any packaging can be made guy friendly, as long as you are paying attention.

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CASE IN POINT: gift baskets

Do you wonder if gift baskets are, well, manly enough? 

Absolutely, as long as you build them right!

Start with the kind of container a guy is going to appreciate… 

Like this brown faux leather container with handles

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Or a chest constructed of dark brown seagrass

Or for a Thank You gift, a gift basket box that leans toward the masculine

Then use the right kind of tissue, shred and basket wrap…

This tissue paper, with its lines of alternating jet black and kraft, has a strong and striking look.

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Men and metal make a great pair, so choose a metallic & paper shred in dynamic combos such as black & silver, chocolate & gold or blue & silver. 


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Wrap it all up with this basket wrap in manly black with white dots. 


The result: a gift basket that will appeal to the man of any house. 


GUY POWER CAN POWER YOUR PROFITS

In this blog post, we’ve given you the assumptions to avoid and some ways to tap into the male market. Follow these tips and watch Guy Power boost your bottom line! 


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