Monthly Archives

July 2013

Male Grooming on the Rise

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Men now preen longer than women, the Daily Mail reports. Shaving, dressing, styling their hair – it all adds up to 75 minutes daily, compared to 70 minutes for women, according to a survey of Brits.

 

Perhaps most surprising: 85 percent spend more than a half hour perfecting their manes with blow drying and straightening, and one third own their own hair straightener. An impressive 88 percent even groom their private parts weekly (presumably without the straightener).

 

Getting dressed also eats up the clock, as 98 percent plan at least two days in advance what they’re going to wear. Even with forward planning, 3 out of 4 men still try on different outfits before settling.

 

The trend accompanies an upward curve in the men’s grooming market, which reached $3 billion in 2012, according to the product research firm Mintel. Men are staying single longer and wanting to look younger, driving market growth, as is demand from youth and Hispanic consumers.

 

“Brands that are looking to capitalise on this growing trend will do well to create products as well as ad campaigns that appeal to this new male consumer who is focused on products that will help him present the best version of himself,” Mintel reports. “Companies will also do well to…use marketing messages that include humour while focusing on the confidence boost these items can bring.”

Women Gain Hold on America’s Purse Strings

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Women have taken control the nation’s consumer wealth, flexing increasingly more spending muscle. Estimates of their purchasing prowess range from $5 trillion to $15 trillion annually, according to Nielsen.

 

“Women will control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the U.S. over the next decade and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history—compelling insight for anyone curious about who’s keeping the U.S. economy going these days,” Nielsen reports.

 

While women continue to make everyday shopping decisions such as for groceries and clothing, they are also more likely to manage big-ticket purchases like homes, cars and appliances.

 

Female shopping trips are most important to the mass merchandiser and dollar store channels, while male shopping trips are of greater relative importance within convenience/gas, grocery and warehouse club outlets. Women spend more money per trip than men in all of the channels examined, but in many channels, the differences between the sexes are not as great as one might expect. Nevertheless, spending differences do indicate that women drive the larger stock-up or planned trips as they outspend males by $14.31 per trip in supercenters and by $10.32 per trip in grocery stores.

 

Here’s another trend: Women are watching more online and mobile video these days, especially TV-related genres. And while a greater number of women visit Netflix and Hulu, men still stream a greater number of videos overall on these sites—and thus watch more streaming ads.

Breaking Up With Their Cars

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Driving—that iconic American pastime—is less important to young people than ever, according to a survey by Zipcar. In fact, people aged 18-34 would sooner give up their cars than their cell phones or computers.

 

Why is the Millennial generation abandoning the automobile? Most (80 percent) say paying for gas, maintenance and parking is too tough on their wallets. They have environmental concerns as well—44 percent are actively trying to reduce how much they drive.

 

The study correlates Internet access with driving less. Young people are more likely than other age groups to use mobile phones and computers to shop and socialize without leaving home. When they do go out, the availability of ride-sharing, car-sharing and public transit means they drive less. A quarter of Millennials have reduced their driving frequency thanks to smartphone apps that can tell them when the next bus is coming or where the closest shared vehicle is.

 

Zipcar primarily surveyed licensed drivers, but that group is also dwindling. The New York Times reports the number of 18-year-olds with a driver’s licenses has also dropped off. “Whether members of the Millennial generation will start buying more cars once they have kids to take to soccer practice and school plays remains an open question,” the article says.

A Diet Soda for Men Only?

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It’s become a lesson in how not to market to today’s media-savvy young men. In 2011, Dr. Pepper unveiled Dr. Pepper 10, a low-calorie soda with gunmetal grey packaging and the exclusionary slogan: “It’s not for women.”

 

An initial ad campaign featured a gun-toting action star dodging lasers, punching snakes and of course drinking Dr. Pepper 10. The ads were immediately criticized as sexist, even sparking a petition to stop the campaign. But the criticism went further, questioning whether the portrayal of masculinity was also a flawed tactic.

 

“Parallel to the overall message that Dr. Pepper Ten is not for women were prescriptive orders on how to be a man,” reports the youth market research firm YPulse. “Any possibility it could be interpreted as facetious was undone by its bossy, directive tone.”

 

Take two: In 2013, Dr. Pepper unveils a new commercial spot, but this time they offer a picture of retro manliness so laughably over the top that there is no direct challenge to the viewer’s masculinity.

 

Washed out like a vintage beer ad, the commercial follows a burly mountain man who eats bark and howls for a swooping falcon that plucks a can of the soda from a river for him. Instead of “Not for Women,” the slogan is the clearly more farce-laden “The Manliest Low Calorie Soda in the History of Mankind.”

 

The new spot taps into a complex portrait of masculinity that Gen Y men are comfortable with – self-effacing but also self-aware.

 

“They are a group so media savvy, so aware of brand maneuvering that they understand instinctively what audience brands are trying to target and how,” says Ypulse. “To capture an audience like this, they need to be in on the joke.”

Millennials Propel Craft Beer Boom

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It’s craft beer versus the clever look of America’s largest brewers, who are riding a wave of indie beer sales with indie-sounding brands, according to an analysis by Adweek.

 

Store coolers across the nation are making more shelf space for packs of craft beer. Sales in the U.S. are expected to hit an incredible $18 billion by 2018, tripling since just 2012, the product research firm Mintel forecasts. Who’s drinking it: 18 (yes) to 24 year olds, many of them with sophisticated palates and a desire to buy local. In fact, half of millennials over age 25 drink craft beer.

 

Meanwhile domestic and imported beers have seen little to no growth, with one exception: faux craft brands. With indie-sounding names like Shock Top (Anheuser-Busch InBev) and Third Shift (SABMiller), large companies that benefit from global distribution chains have the advantage over smaller brewers, which still account for only 6 percent of total U.S. beer sales.

 

Can craft brew fans tell the difference between a big brewery’s boutique label and a truly independent brand? Indie brewers think so.

 

“We are selling community, and they are selling liquid,” Lagunitas founder Tony Magee told Adweek. His Petaluma, CA-based brewery is hardly small anymore, with sales of $61 million last year and climbing. It seems a brewery’s size is less important than its brand authenticity, which younger drinkers value highly. Indie brewers understand their audience, eschewing traditional advertising techniques in favor of channels younger drinkers are comfortable with – namely word of mouth and digital marketing.

 

“Trying to mask a brand’s ties to big beer could well backfire if the consumer perceives the strategy as an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of beer lovers,” Adweek says.

Pity the Men on Top

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When I dream about my father, I always wake up when I hear the crunch of tires rolling over rock salt — an unmistakable sound evoking the winters of my Michigan childhood in the 1950s and early ’60s. Dad, an accountant, would pull his car out of our icy driveway and head for his office long before first light. This was tax season, and he could keep his business and our family financially afloat only by working 80-hour weeks.

 

You won’t find Bob Jacoby or his unglamorous middle-class, middle-income contemporaries in “Mad Men,” the AMC series. If we are to believe the message of popular culture, the last men on top — who came of age during World War II or in the decade after it — ran the show at work, at home and in bed.

 

But something is missing from this picture.

 

The world of “Mad Men,” in which executives earn enough to pay for lavish hotel rooms for trysts with girlfriends, was unimaginable for most blue- or white-collar working men 50 years ago.

 

My dad worked so hard that he wouldn’t have had time for routine adultery even if he had the desire. Furthermore, my supposedly powerless mother would have spotted any unexplained expenditure of more than $20. The basic middle-class covenant of the time ceded power to women over everything domestic, including the family budget.

 

The cost of that covenant to women — the suppression of worldly opportunity — has been thoroughly told. The cost to men — in terms of stress, time lost with the families they were trying so hard to support and lack of freedom to pursue personal interests — has not been nearly as well documented.

 

The worst economic downturn of my childhood, in 1957 and ’58, saw unemployment rise to 6.2 percent in the six months before recovery began. If the “Eisenhower recession” had lasted as long as the one that began in 2008, my father’s business would probably have collapsed.

 

Many decades would pass before middle-class men could hope that a wife’s earnings would help in lean years. How many more families would have lost their homes in recent years if working women contributed as little financially as they did in the era of “Mad Men”?

 

So it is difficult to understand why social commentators cannot muster up more empathy for the older generation of men, who had no backup if something went wrong at work.

 

Excerpted from Pity the Men on Top by Susan Jacoby, The New York Times, April 6, 2013.

More Often, Pets Land in Bachelor Pads

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The fastest growing group of pet owners is single men, according to a survey from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

From 2006 to 2011, pet ownership among single men leapt 28 percent, as compared to 22 percent for single women. Close to half (44 percent) of bachelors now have animal companions, closing the gap on single women (57 percent).

 

“For now, it’s true that more single women own pets than single men, but this survey shows us that this may be changing,” says Dr. Douglas Aspros, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

 

Most pets are still owned by a family, but that category saw little growth. Ownership jumped overall among people who are divorced, widowed or separated, from 52 to 60 percent.

 

Those unlucky in love may also place a higher value on animal companionship. The survey showed they are more likely to consider their pet — whether cat, dog, or iguana — as a family member.

 

“Pets are powerful, positive influences on our lives, offering unique emotional, psychological and physical health benefits to their owners,” Aspros said.

Step Aside Sweatpants

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Men’s fashion has a lazy new trend leader: the pajama pant.

 

Sales of flannel and silk PJ bottoms jumped an incredible 20 percent to $450 million since 2012 according to research by the NPD Group, which calls it the hottest trend in men’s fashion.

 

Yet only 18 percent of men say they wear the PJ bottoms to sleep, as compared to the venerable boxer short at 37 percent.

 

Instead, guys are taking their jammies to the streets, inspired by women celebrities like Jessica Alba and Katie Holmes. The gentlemen’s lounge bottom seems to replace the sweat pant as daywear, if the sweat pant had a retail price upwards of $100.

 

“This gives casual wear whole new meaning,” says NPD Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Expert with the NPD Group.

Teens Increasingly Unlike Facebook

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Like a dance with too many chaperones, Facebook is losing its cool factor with teenagers, who are turning elsewhere to get their social fix.

 

Where they go, advertisers will follow. Tumblr now outpaces Facebook in teen use – 61 to 55 percent, according to this infographic from Right Mix Marketing.

 

It poses an uphill battle for Facebook, where active users in the U.S. have fallen more than 7 percent in six months. Meanwhile the average Facebook user’s age has climbed from 38 to 41 years since 2010.

 

The older Facebook users? Parents, many of them. And surveys reveal nearly three-quarters of parents peek at their child’s Facebook page multiple times a week. In response, one third of teens say they’re embarrassed by parents’ comments, and 30 percent would unfriend their folks.

 

Itching for privacy, teens are turning to their cell phones and apps like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. The number of teens toting smartphones has spiked 61 percent since 2011, giving them access to a host of other shiny social apps that mom and dad haven’t heard of yet. Teens are also much more likely to surf the mobile web – 1 in 4 teens versus 1 in 7 adults. The trend of teens going mobile is only expected to rise, signaling that this age group will continue to be highly influential over the mobile space.