Men's Grooming

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The Rise of Men's Grooming: What's Fueling the $21 Billion Industry?

Once upon a time, men's grooming wasn't even a viable industry. 10 years ago, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was the only mainstream grooming guide around. The term "metrosexual" was used to describe a small subset of men who cared about their personal appearance. There was still a very rigid definition of what it meant to be a man. Men didn't use night cream or wear man buns or apply concealer to hide their dark circles. In those times, no one could have guessed that men's grooming would be as vast and celebrated as it is today. The industry brought in an estimated $21 billion worldwide in 2016. Men aren't simply paying more attention to their skin, hair and teeth. They're shelling out a lot of money to keep looking good.

According to Complex magazine, the rise in revenue is being driven through skincare and hair products. Mr. Porter, the upscale online men's retailer, reported a 300% profit increase on these products in 2015. Surely, that exponential growth continued last year.

In 2014, shaving brands Harry's and Dollar Shave Club were on the shortlist of startups that raised the most venture capital, per Entrepreneur. Investors know that men are spending big.

But what brought about this change? Did men around the world just wake up one day with a need to exfoliate? Or was this a gradual market shift?

Perhaps it's a mixture of both. Beard culture reached a fever pitch in 2014. With the rise in popularity came a slew of related products. Beard balm, beard oil, beard shampoo, beard combs and brushes. Brands and bloggers alike were the voices of reason, preaching the benefits of advanced beard care. If guys wanted to grow the impressive beards they saw in their Instagram feeds, they needed these products.

According to CNBC, men's toiletries make up roughly $3 billion of the global $21 billion intake. Of that $3 billion, the growth is being driven by beard products. Beard culture is attracting a specific type of guy-rugged, athletic, aesthetically aware-but it's a type of guy who's willing to shop for beauty products.

Aside from the beard boom, a change in language started grabbing guys' attention. When it comes to grooming products, there's a sense of pride. A man who values his masculinity would never buy creams or cleansers marketed to women. Even though the products don't need to be specifically formulated for a man's skin, it's the colors, the packaging and the intent that drives him away.

From 2012 forward, many brands started focusing on special men's lines. It seems adding "For Men" to the end of a product name was a game changer. Dove Men + Care created deodorants, body washes and soaps targeting male customers. Its scents are more masculine. There's no lavender or fruit smells. These washes lean on sage and sandalwood. The marketing speaks to men's strength. These are products that men can use and still feel like men.

Brands throughout the industry learned that they needed to change their scents, colors and product names to get men to buy. If the word "men" was in the title, it was guaranteed to reel him in.

Lastly, the most controversial taboos surrounding men's grooming have been melting away since the start of the 2010s. For the last few years, there has been an uptick in men's makeup. Men are fronting makeup campaigns for reputable brands like Cover Girl. Buzzfeed is offering tutorials to teach men how to apply concealer and foundation. Where men once rejected the idea of even using a moisturizer, there's now a changing landscape in which men are embracing the fairer sex's tools of the trade.

From covering up dark circles after a big night to lessening the impact of a pimple, men's makeup is becoming more mainstream by the second. If guys are willing to try makeup, then they'll buy exfoliators, oil cleansers and blotting pads without a second thought. The breakdown of the last standing men's grooming taboo has opened the floodgates. Men's skincare is a grooming category with infinite potential.

Men's grooming is growing so fast that it threatens to steal a fifth of the grooming market share away from women's brands. This is something to take seriously.

So, the rise in men's grooming wasn't something that happened overnight. We've been groomed-no pun intended-for this for over a decade. With the beard explosion, the relaxation of rigid masculine standards and the marketing push for men's only product lines, the men's grooming industry had nowhere to go but up.

And despite its rapid growth in 2016, it's far from losing steam. By 2024, the business should rake in $104 billion. That's big bank. Expect to see legions of smooth-skinned men taking over a city near you.

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