Nikki Austen, our London-based Head of Strategy, shares thoughts on the latest trends and insights in male marketing.

Mintel’s latest ‘Marketing to Men’ report tells us that 50% of all UK men are largely apathetic to advertising, finding themselves unable to identify with the men they see in ad campaigns; Macho stereotypes that feel outdated and unrealistic. Other insights we’ve been tracking elsewhere at Webb deVlam, indicate that stay at home dads have doubled in the last 20 years, fuelled by a couple of key shifts in family life. Firstly, women who can be defined as the primary earner of the household income are continuing to rise, and secondly, more men simply want to be more involved in raising their children.

Since conducting our own study to understand men and how their grooming and personal care behaviours change as they age, we have been aware that in this category in particular, men are looking for something that speaks to them authentically and in a way that acknowledges their own true and personal version of masculinity. Despite what ‘they’ say, all men are NOT created equal and therefore we must understand when and how we can engage with them on a level that is most reflective of them and what they really want.

The study identified that there are four consumer points of entry to the male grooming category, where we can see a significant proportion of income diverted towards their appearance – Entering the workforce, Co-habitation/Marriage, Awareness of ageing, Later-life dating/divorce. We found that the image of themselves they were looking to present, while born from very different motivations, had some common themes – a desire to appear in control, project signs of achievement, show their appetite for experiencing new things, to be described as healthy and strong. This is a much more holistic and well rounded set of criteria than brands have had the appetite to embrace until very recently.

The new Axe ad demonstrates that they understand that indeed, men are more than one ‘species’.

Although improving a lot slower than most would hope, growing global appetites to see men and women as equals are the wind in the sails of these campaigns that seek to show that this is the voice of a brand that believes in a very different future, where gender equality and stereotypes are as blurred as the Manscara on their faces. It will work if this is not treated as the new recipe – switch the message over lock-stock from pub humour and double entendres to empathetic and effeminate masculinity. What it means to be a man is complex, individual and changing. There is not a new secret recipe but it’s nice to see things being approached from a refreshing new angle.

But, there are always contradictions. For every man claiming to be participating in the Menaissance – an ideal that rejects homophobia, sexism, racism, chauvinism and promotes responsible behaviour, dressing sharp and good manners – the LADbible clocks up another follower, and a further 1,000 shares on social media for the Guy-Fi. A destination for men who ‘self-soothe’ at work to alleviate stress, moving the habit out of the workplace into a more suitable environment (?) that provides the privacy and the high-speed internet he deserves. Now, while this has since been identified as a marketing ruse for London based sex toy business Hot Octopuss it also gives us a very clear read of what the majority of LADbible’s members (ahem!) really think about the idea based on a quick glance of the comments section. Everyone in favour raise your…


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