Tapping into male trends
Tapping into male trends
|Men have finally discovered shopping and as a new book about marketing to men reveals they are becoming serious consumers. John Fanning gives his verdict on Branded Male|
Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady famously declared "why can't a woman be more like a man?". Nowadays, men are being told to become more like women as we hear of terms like ‘metrosexual'. Prof Anthony Clare, probably Ireland's best known psychiatrist, who died last year, published a book in 2000 titled ‘Masculinity in Crisis'.
Clare's book was a highly topical millennium issue caused by a combination of the decline in many traditional male bastions, following the increasing presence of women in the workforce. Even science had made the male biologically redundant. Men, said Clare, would have to evolve from their aggressive position of dominant emotional cripples and get in touch with their feminine side and a surprising number of them could not wait.
Well at least David Beckham! Years ago, men were defined by the trades they pursued; Smith, Taylor, Miller, Farmer, Archer, Thatcher, but with the demise of the traditional crafts no one wanted to be lumbered with a double barreler like ‘Financial-Services'. Now that self-identity is no longer stable and securely guaranteed by one's occupation we are seeing attempts to derive identity from the body which explains the rise of ‘body culture'. It is not just the dubious tattoos but results from a recent survey showed that some men were being criticised for, wait for it; ‘letting themselves go'.
Whether you're alarmed or enthused by these developments, they undoubtedly represent opportunities for marketing across a range of product fields and a new book by Mark Tungate, Branded Male (Kogan Page) offers a useful introduction to the subject.
Tungate is a journalist specialising in marketing communications and we've reviewed two of his books here in recent times - Fashion Brands and Adland. Now he tackles the branded male and the book's 14 chapters take the reader on a whistle-stop tour of all the usual male consumption suspects; clothes, wheels, travel, gadgets, sex, alcohol, restaurants, hotels, pictures (TV and videos) and words (lads mags). But it also covers some of the less usual ones; home, body, diet and skin.
The chapter on ‘cloth' makes the valid point that male ostentation in dress is not exactly a recent phenomenon. Beau Brummell was born in the 18th century and he was regarded as the ultimate dandy; "noble, muscular, self-evidently aspirational, utterly uneffeminate'!" "The casual clothes of the day consisted of Hessian riding boots, riding breeches and cutaway riding jackets so that even West End ‘loungers' who had no intention of riding anywhere could give the appearance of readiness to mount a horse and gallop towards revolution," Tungate explained. Just like today's south Dubliners driving their kids to school in vehicles that would enjoy a reasonable level of safety in a Baghdad battle.
David Beckham is the world's best known branded male. The former England captain has earned a reputation as a metrosexual. Branded Male tries to shed new light on which marketing messages have a real impact on men's wallets. In 1990, only four per cent of men used a skincare product. By 2015, the figure will have risen to one in two men.
One of the main reasons why so many product categories that used to be the exclusive preserve of women and are now setting their sights on men is the increasingly late marriage age. With more men as well as women living on their own in their twenties and well into thirties they are taking much more interest in décor and food and in the absence of a wife or a mammy they start paying more attention to diet, skin and cloth.
Increasing prosperity is also a factor as any old car, any old hotel and any old holiday destination will not do anymore as all these options become lifestyle choices requiring careful consideration to ensure they are making the right statement.
One in every three British men is on a diet which seems a bit of a waste given that short-term diets never work and as Tungate says "dieting is usually unpleasant, unnecessary, unhealthy and expensive and creates havoc with a person's metabolism and wardrobe".
Underlying the ‘crisis in masculinity' are some profound sociological issues which would help to explain more far reaching changes in 21st century society and culture. This book merely skims the surface of these issues but it has a breezy journalistic style.
This writing approach makes it easy to read and if you have to make a presentation or impress a client about your grasp of the emerging male market there are enough anecdotes and handy quotes here to enliven any PowerPoint presentation.
Did you know for example that the word ‘gym' derives from the Greek ‘gumnos' meaning ‘naked' and in ancient Greece gymnasia men dressed as nature intended to compete in races and boxing bouts? No doubt, you are not alone.
Tungate's book has spawned a new blog, just click on www.brandedmale.com