We had a debate in the workshop recently about the merits of personal care products that are packaged and branded specifically for men. It was prompted by ads we’d all seen by the high street “chemical” brands using highly paid celebrities (in this case male ones) to promote products, in some cases for men only and we wondered what the actual difference is.
So we organised an informal focus group with a few male friends to try and find out.
Products in four different categories were assembled (moisturisers, body lotions, soap and hair conditioner). In each category were five brands, so five moisturisers, five soaps and so on. These were presented “blind” ie. we’d put each product into the same bottle or dispenser with no brand labeling. Of the five brands, two products in each category were specifically targeting men. The object of the exercise was to establish if the texture, fragrance or feel of the products that specifically targeted men were actually preferred by men. We wanted to determine if Patchouli, for example, was actually intrinsically preferred by men because over the years’ people have said to us that it was a fragrance that specifically appealed to men.
I don’t think anyone will be too surprised to learn that there was no correlation between products preferred and whether or not the brand was targeting men. There was no obvious preference by the chaps in our focus group for citrus or floral, mild or strong fragrances and although the feel of the products varied, there was no overall preference for thinner or thicker, for example.
So that was fairly conclusive. Products targeting men must be a superficial branding issue and because we thought this was going to be the case (because we have many male customers who buy from across our range) we came prepared !
We then revealed the five brands used and we also included a few others. They varied from the very feminine brand packaging through what we thought are gender neutral brands (where we think Handmade Naturals is), to those brands who package their men products in plain black, grey, monotone etc colours.
The results here were more conclusive. Men seem to naturally steer away from overt flowers and pinks but after that brand choices were fairly evenly distributed across brands targeting men and those that we think are fairly gender neutral (contrary to opinion in some quarters, chaps do like a bit of flowers and nice colours, as well as fast cars and space ships !)
For those companies trying to corner the male market, it really does just seem to be all in the packaging !