Men and Spas - Finding Opportunities in the Male Grooming Market

By Jacqueline Clarke Wellness Research Director, Diagonal Reports | February 13, 2010

The grooming businesses that cater to men rank sales of services in the following order: hair care services, facial skin care treatments, and hair removal (depilation). These top services are trailed at a considerable distance by a mixed bag of other grooming services

However, although male interest in grooming is growing the performance of businesses that cater to men is uneven. Uneven because not all businesses (and this is something of an understatement) benefited as they had expected to when they entered the male grooming market. According to one UK company, a mere 4% of its male clients avail of its expanded menu of grooming services. A London salon was forced to cut its recently introduced body massages due to lack of demand. Others were able to sell massages, but only after they were rebranded and camouflaged as "sports therapies." A US nationwide barber/salon company found that demand for some services, such as pedicures, is regionally fragmented. Strong sales on the coasts, contrast with non-existent sales in other regions. This experience made the company reluctant to invest in a national roll out of a diverse package of grooming services for men.

It may be useful to learn why returns can fall short of business expectations, and why the much proclaimed male interest in appearances does not automatically translate into sales. A commonality in different countries of "uneven performance" is not knowing what men want. Companies note grooming services for men is a relatively new market category, and is at an experimental stage in terms of the packages of services, of product line-ups, and of marketing. As a well known company said: "We are not yet fine tuned to the exact grooming needs of the men of today."

The problem is how to find out what men want. This is not easy to determine, there are few places to study the issue because there are relatively few businesses that focus on men. There are (inbuilt) information limitations. They are as follows:

  • Most men's grooming is the at home use of products from the mass market retail channel - which is why most brands are concentrated in retail. But the retail channel is not very informative about emerging needs, or service demands. Market data does not distinguish the gender of final consumer. In the UK less than 1% of the lines carried by product suppliers are for men.

  • Salons and spas that catered to women now attract more men -they can account for up to half of all clients. But men's patronage can be "forced." That is they may have no choice, and must use a salon because of the closure of barbers in many countries.

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