Soccer fans might have been excited when it was announced that David Beckham would be coming to the United States to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy. But nobody was cheering louder than the executives in the fashion and beauty industries.
Becks could be a considerable force, especially in the men's grooming sector, which already is experiencing tremendous growth (worldwide sales rose from $26.3 billion in 2005 to $29.7 billion in 2006).
The term metrosexual, for whom Beckham was the poster boy, may be dead, but the man who cares about his skin, his shave and his wardrobe is not.
"Now, more than ever, men feel that it is important to take care of their skin," said Oneeka Botu, director of skin-care marketing for Clarins. "Today's man more than ever is more aware of how he looks and wants to look. Also, men have discovered what women have known all along - that you've got to take care of your skin if you want to look well-groomed."
Companies making men's skin-care and grooming products have kicked into high gear. Men who want to erase undereye circles, plump up fine lines and reduce pore size now don't have to filch from their girlfriend's or wife's medicine cabinet. Companies such as L'Oreal, Clarins, Kiehl's, Shiseido, Clinique, Lab Series for Men, Elemis, Anthony Logistics, Jack Black, Zirh, Sharps, Nickel, Molton Brown and Dior Homme have lines and products targeted to the XY set.
"The men's grooming category is growing at an extremely fast pace with new men's skin-care lines constantly being developed," said Rene Shepherd, men's skin-care merchant for Sephora. "Although shave still appears to be the No. 1 category, we have seen an increase in more specialized skin-care products for face, eyes and body. Products targeted to specific needs, such as razor bumps, are also proving to be very successful."
Men are growing more educated about grooming products and sophisticated in choices for their beauty needs.
"It's growing. By some estimates, the product side of the business is growing twice as fast as the women's side, albeit off a much lower base," said John Esposito, co-founder of Truman's Gentlemen's Groomers in New York. "Men, especially our clients, are buying better-quality product than they did in the past. They are starting to realize that there is a difference between soap on a rope and a high-quality cleanser."
Not just smarter, men also are getting more experimental when it comes to grooming, Shepherd said. "Skin care has become such a huge focus in the beauty world, and because of the serious nature, men are not as embarrassed about purchasing these sorts of protective products," she said. "It also seems as though men are becoming a bit braver in their purchasing habits, especially since the emergence of metrosexuals."
Clarins monitors and analyzes what men are buying in order to stay on top of the business. The company has seen a huge jump in facial care, especially lip products, toners, clarifiers and anti-aging treatments.
"I think that men were experimenting in the early 2000s when there was a major focus on the men's beauty business," Botu said. "Today, a lot of men have discovered what they like and what works for them and are buying those products."
But it's not just younger bucks like Becks who are taking care of their skin. As men age, they are more likely to invest in more and better grooming products, Esposito said. "One of the biggest drivers behind the boom is the baby boomer generation. They are fitter and living longer. But with a longer, healthier life comes the need to work longer, and many of them actually have to date at later ages than they ever expected," he said. "Hence, the basic survival of the fittest response kicks in. Looking good is a competitive advantage."