By Rieva Lesonsky


The “beauty” industry used to be all about women—but not anymore. What once was called men’s toiletries (shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream, aftershave and cologne) is now the men’s grooming industry. In fact, according to DeWolf Chemical, industry revenues in the U.S. alone for 2016 hit $8.9 billion, a 5% increase from the year before.

Specifically, the men’s skin care category showed the highest growth—reaching $312 million (up 10%). In fact, the U.S. is expected to be the third biggest contributor to global men’s skin care products, adding around $70 million by 2019. Men’s hair care was also hot, growing 8% to $1 billion, driven by “strong demand for beard care products, including balms and oils.”

In-demand grooming products

Statista says globally, men are embracing products consumers once thought were strictly for women, including moisturizers, facial cleansers, eye creams and serums, bronzers, concealers, anti-agers and mud masks.

And they’re spending. Statista adds, men are starting to spend more on these new items than on more traditional shaving products.

What’s behind the push? Statista says, “More and more men are putting higher stock into looking good. It’s about self-confidence as much as anything else, and the desire to feel more attractive, more successful, and, increasingly, more youthful.”

The SME edge

While the big beauty brands have launched grooming lines targeting men, generally these have been slower to catch on. One reason for this might be that these brands are primarily associated with women. So, being relatively unknown gives startups and small brands an advantage.

If you want to start selling men’s grooming products, launching an e-commerce website is a good way to begin. Key factors that drive sales include, personalized shopping, easy accessibility and low costs. That said, half of global men’s grooming products’ revenues are concentrated in the mid-price range.

But, you might want to “experiment” with this market before you fully commit. If you own a store (or have a website) that targets men, order a few products from and see what sells. In a retail store, display a few products on a table or a shelf. That’s a relatively small investment that could pay off big.

To gain visibility you might want to work with influencers. According to Engagement Labs, millennial men are 69% more likely than all men to be influencers in the grooming category.

Getting men to buy grooming products

Going forward, many experts are expecting there’ll be more segmentation in the category. Skin care products will be developed for men with different skin types—and even different degrees of stubble.

DeWolf Chemical reports, 51% of American men want to try a new Personal Care product. But, they say, product adoption is still a challenge. How can you change that?  DeWolf says:

  • American men will be more likely to add an extra step to their routine if it offers a solution to a specific skin health concern.
  • Addressing the differences between male and female skin through problem-solving product concepts that are true to men’s lifestyles and what they like.

Category projections

Another suggestion from DeWolf is to reframe skin care as a health issue. New customers are likely to be price-sensitive. DeWolf says they’re actually “value-conscious.” But, they say, while mass-market priced skin care products almost doubled in size in 2016, “there are opportunities for expansion in the premium sector with 5.3% CAGR from 2016-2021.”

Beards are more en vogue these days, which DeWolf says, has resulted in increased sales of beard care products. Men are less price sensitive here, and DeWolf says there’s a “strong trend toward premiumization.” Natural products are selling particularly well.

When it comes to hair care, DeWolf notes that shampoos, conditioners and styling products “experienced moderately strong growth.”