Statistics released by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) showed that the wellness industry was worth $4.2 trillion in 2017. It is growing at almost twice the rate of the global economy. Although the GWI does not report on gender differences in industry spending, it is clear that the women’s market has been and still is consistently successful; but the male wellness market is in a period of explosive growth.
Products which have previously only been branded with the female market in mind are systematically being given a more masculine facelift. This male targeted branding involves changes in imagery, language, and even the aesthetic appeal and ingredients of the products themselves. Think London based male beauty and wellness brand, Beast’s charcoal face wash and glycolic cleanser.
Andrew Dudum, 30 year old founder of US male wellness brand Hims, said that the idea for his company was born from an evening with his sisters. They took his credit card and bought a range of products for him to up his self-care game; and he was struck by the fact that all of those products were marketed for women. This drove Dudum to search for other products, such as moisturisers, that were aimed at men. He found almost nothing to fit the bill. “That was a kind of trigger point,” he says, because the increasing pressure for men to take care of their bodies and skin was not being met by the beauty and wellness industries.
The Pressure for Male Wellness and Beauty
Part of the pressure that Dudum felt comes from within the world of work. Increasingly, younger men feel that the conventional daily shave is not enough as a self-care regime to enable them to meet the expectations for their image to enhance their career. Today’s millennial men are far more open to self-care than older generations; with products and wellness technology such as Beast’s two-speed sonic cleansing device growing in popularity.
Beth McGroarty from the GWI suggests that there is now an “unprecedented openness’ to self-care among men, and this has impacted the market. Today’s male consumer is different; he wants different products, more products, and more specific results. A GWI report shows that men are increasingly experiencing similar pressure to meet (often unattainable) beauty and body ideals that women have felt for centuries. But there’s a difference: the pressures driving the male wellness trend are more closely related to economic instability, and the ability to be financially successful, rather than perceived attractiveness alone.
The professional world has become more and more precarious and job stability is harder to come by. So men feel the need to achieve optimum performance at all times, and in all ways, and prove that they are worthy of their income. McGroarty says that the question “How can I become the best version of myself?” plays on male minds, and wellness and beauty industry brands are tapping into this new vulnerability. They offer products branded to increase certainty and confidence in a time of insecurity for men.
As his interest in the male wellness sector grew, Dudum became more acutely aware that his male friends were struggling with a range of issues. From hair loss and acne to sexual dysfunction, men were feeling insecure; but they rarely, or never, talked about these problems openly. With new awareness in this gap in the wellness market, Dudum set out to launch Hims: a male wellness brand that ‘calls bullshit’ on the idea that men aren’t supposed to take care of themselves, or talk about it. “We hope to enable a conversation that’s currently closeted,” says the Hims About page.
Hims raised $7m in seed money pre-launch, proving its commercial viability and creating the foundations for breaking down the wellness and psychological barriers that cause shame among men. Through market research Dudum came to the realization that it would be crucial to avoid embarrassment if men were going to trust Hims. So products and branding was built around a tele-medical model; it is “a place to learn and get affordable medicine.”
The products are focused on solving problems, rather than enhancing attractiveness (which is marketed as a side effect rather than the core purpose). There’s the Acne Kit; the Anti-Aging Kit; and a range of clinically approved products that claim to help men with sexual dysfunction.
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Hims boldly states on its website “having an issue isn’t weird. Not dealing with it is weird.” This message is key to the brand’s success and growth. This is not just about product sales, but a brand which is trying to change the conversations men are able to have with one another. It challenges the notion that to be manly is to suffer in silence. Dudum isn’t just a creator of social change, of course; he’s a businessman. Customers are drawn in by solutions to their most painful problems, and in doing so they are introduced to more products; to daily creams and serums, and to a brand that works to gain their trust and long term purchasing loyalty.
In the first week after launch Hims took around $1m in sales, and according to Dudum, was the smallest sales week the brand has ever had. New products are constantly in development with the intention to name and solve problems that are common among men.
Self Care and Personal Development
Male wellness and beauty brands are driven by, and simultaneously feed into, a growing trend for personal development. More and more men are moving into the mindset of improving from the inside out; of becoming their best self; of working on themselves in order to perform better in all areas of life. This is an irresistible opportunity for self care brands and the wellness industry to capture the imaginations of a growing male market.
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