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Young men’s grooming is booming: the how, what and where of the growth of the personal care category

by Kenneth Simonsen , 17.03.2015

Men are increasingly engaged in the personal care and male grooming category – good news for companies targeting these important consumers. So just how are young men choosing personal care products? Where are they shopping and what influences their purchase decisions? Our Global Young Shopper Survey, a multi-country study of 7,000 shoppers in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the UK and US, provides some answers.

Thirst for information

Across the countries surveyed, more than two thirds of men aged 16-21 buy personal care items. Contrary to what we might expect, our research shows that young men are very engaged in the category, carrying out as much research into personal care and grooming products before they buy them as young women. Young Chinese men carry out the most research at 84%, followed by Russians at 78%, Brazilians at 63%, and North Americans at 61%. In fact in some markets, men describe their research activity as “extensive” when looking to make a purchase in the personal care sector. For instance in Brazil 19% of young men carry out “extensive research” compared to young women at 12%, in the US the figures are 15% and 8% for young men and women respectively, and in Germany it is 11% and 4% for young men and women respectively.

Young men are prepared to compare products before they purchase as very few know exactly what they want. At 15% young men in the UK and Brazil are the most decisive, followed by Germans at 14%, saying they know exactly what products they will purchase. However this confidence in their choice of what item to buy is unusual. Men lag behind women in knowing what they want personal care items they want in all other markets. The figures are as low as 5% in Russia and India, and 6% in China.

Store behavior

With young men actively researching and choosing between different personal care products, it is essential that manufacturers understand how to engage with them. Although a large number of young men are visiting stores to view products, in general they are less likely to browse in a store than women. The exceptions to this trend are young men in Russia where 46% browse in a store, compared to 42% of young women, and in Brazil where browsing is relatively equal at 50% for young men and 56% for young women. For manufacturers and retailers targeting those markets, promotion and clear packaging are essential to help young male shoppers choose between products when they are in a shop, as well as to encourage impulse buys and new product trials.

Young men tend to be more influenced by advertising

When we compare what information sources young men and women are persuaded by when considering a purchase in the personal care category, there is a strong bias amongst men towards traditional media, most notably advertising. Men’s opinions are significantly more likely to be shaped by advertising than women in all markets as our results show:

  • 45% of young men versus 35% of young women in Germany
  • Four in ten (41%) young men versus 29% of young women in Russia
  • Just over one third (35%) of young men compared to 26% of young women in the US
  • Almost one third (32%) of young men in the UK compared to one in five young women (20%)


Search engines play an important role as an information source for young men

Google and other internet search engines play a major part in the research phase for young men. In the majority of markets, men aged 16-21 are significantly more likely than women to use search engines: 60% of young men use search engines compared to 49% of young women in India, while 41% of young men use search engines compared to 29% of young women in Russia. This trend is echoed in Western markets – in Germany there is a gap of 10% between men and women aged 16-21 (45% and 35%), while in the UK and US the gap is marginally wider (32% vs. 20% and 35% vs. 26% respectively).

In summary

Our research shows that men have a real thirst for information about personal care and grooming products. This presents an opportunity to target the young male shopper with information led by the manufacturer. In particular, advertising is an important source for young men as well as online where search engines play a key role. Manufacturers who get their marketing and communications right will be in better shape to grow market share and reap the rewards of establishing themselves as the go-to brands for the new generation of men, one that is increasingly engaged in the personal care category.

For more information on this topic or on our FMCG research please contact Kenneth Simonsen at kenneth.simonsen@gfk.com.