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The rise of male beauty in numbers and how retailers can embrace the trend

In 2019, the UK’s beauty and personal care industry was valued at a whopping 16 billion euros by Statista. This is expected to rise to 16.8 billion euros by 2020. But what impact does the male beauty industry have on this figure? 

If you haven’t noticed an increase in male grooming, all you have to do is take a look back at the beard trend. YouGov found that more than 6 in 10 18-39 year-olds sported some form of facial hair in 2017. What do they think contributed to this? A few famous faces donning excess facial hair throughout the 2013 awards season.

Barbershops are popping up at extreme rates across Great British High Streets, companies like Chanel and Charlotte Tilbury launched makeup for men, and toiletries sales are filling the wallets of marketers to no end. 

CNBC reported that men are a multi-billion growth opportunity for the beauty industry. So, surely it’s about time retailers started taking advantage of this? 

How is male beauty evolving across the globe? 

According to The Independent, the top 7 “boom markets” in men’s toiletries are Brazil, South Korea, the US, Germany, India and the UK. Male beauty is undoubtedly a growing market in the UK, but it still falls behind its global counterparts.

While the growth and potential that lies within the UK’s male beauty market are undeniable, British men still fall behind when it comes to self-care. In fact, data, insights and consulting company, Kantar found that they rank the lowest when it comes to appearance concerns. “57% of men worldwide claim to maintain their appearance, this falls to only 44% for British men.”

Globally, the number of men who enjoy routine spending on beauty products has gone from 17% in 2015 to 21% in 2019. But where did this all begin?

It’s no secret that countries like China and Korea usually kick off a trend, and then the West follows suit. Korea’s now home to the world’s “biggest male spenders” when it comes to skincare and other Korean beauty products. Global Data found that their market grew an extraordinary 44% between 2011 and 2017 alone. 

Male beauty in the UK  

A recent YouGov survey uncovered that roughly 1 in 20 British men now wear makeup with 1 in 50 wearing it on a weekly basis and 1 in 100 wearing it daily. But it isn’t cosmetics that are surging...it’s male grooming. 

Data and insights company, The NPD Group, estimate the UK men’s grooming market to be worth “£500 million in the 12 months to the end of June 2019.” This figure alone was £2.2 million higher than the previous year. 

In fact, Salon Services UK even released a report predicting that 21,000 jobs will need to be created within a 12 month time period, in order to keep up with the influx of interest in male beauty products. 

Popular bank HSBC even had to create a new consumer group for internal marketing, referred to as the “young urban male professional.” Their consumer interests? Spending their salaries on working out and grooming. 

Researchers often jokingly refer to this boom as the “Love island effect.” But laugh all you want, hair removal products rose by 25% amongst male shoppers following the popularity of the show. 

Is celebrity culture the main catalyst? Probably not. 

Society is shifting, and more and more people are embracing and welcoming gender neutrality and fluidity, the ability to express femininity and redefining the “modern man.” All factors that provide a reason for the above numbers.  

How can retailers embrace the shift? 

Provide the right products

First and foremost, the most significant move retailers and beauticians can make is actually providing the products and treatments. Luxury menswear website, Mrporter.com introduced male grooming to their e-tail site in 2013. By 2015 they’d witnessed 300% growth in both grooming and male beauty products. 

Market research company Mintel, claim that male beauty is still largely unrepresented by retailers, and as a result, men are looking towards the online world and blogs for advice on what to purchase and how to use products. 

“Beauty retailers could do much more to cater to male consumers’ needs.” 


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Go online 

The second thing retailers should consider is the power of social media within the beauty sphere. 

With many men searching for grooming advice online, Mintel’s report found that nearly half of 16-24 year-olds trusted the advice of beauty bloggers more than in-store staff when purchasing toiletries and cosmetics. What does this mean for retailers? They need to be smart in how they sell. Pick the right product ambassadors and offer both online and offline purchase points. 

Look at what other people are doing

Stryx: Online

While many men feel comfortable openly wearing makeup, a recent Altr survey found that many still don’t feel the same way. That’s where makeup company Stryx saw a gap in the market. Stryx “is redefining men’s cosmetic and skincare products. We engineer discreet products for men, so that men can easily and comfortably look their best.” Their online service offers detailed reviews with photos, colour matching, video tutorials and all the information consumers could need. 

Harry’s: Subscription 

Shaving supply company Harry’s identified a gap in the market...affordable, male grooming products weren’t getting the same attention to detail as female products. That’s why they produce highly-engineered and designed shaving products to men on a subscription basis. 

“Our founders, Jeff and Andy, created Harry’s because they were tired of overpaying for overdesigned razors, and of standing around waiting for the person in the drugstore to unlock the cases so they could actually buy them. When they asked around, they learned lots of guys were upset about the situation too, so they decided to do something about it.”

The Barbery: In-store

South London’s The Barbery set up shop earlier in 2019, with the goal of bringing a calmer, more Spa-like approach to the “classic” barbershop. By offering organic products, and Swedish-style hot towel treatments, The Barbery managed to tap into a sector in the market that was being ignored. Breaking away from the “high octane, whiskey, big beards” cookie-cutter environment of most barbershops is what shaped its success. 

The moral of the story? 

The male beauty industry is only going to continue to grow, and it’s a prime opportunity for retailers to get involved, get the products, and get online.

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Anna Marie Allgaier