In an effort to further boost its growth in men’s grooming, Procter & Gamble is looking to capitalise on opportunities in Latin America through its brand Old Spice. However, the image the brand is creating appears to be out of sync with current trends in how men perceive grooming in the region. Men’s shaving is only expected to record annual growth of 2% over the next five years, while men’s skin care is set to increase by a 5% annual rate in the same period. For example, the image from an Old Spice commercial shows a strong guy, with more muscle than most men, screaming to the screen. He punches other men, bombs explode. And above all, he yells. It is apparent he is rejecting bad smells, but he declares something more important than that: You only need the product he is holding with his right hand to smell good.
However, the issue is that the consumer trend is evolving away from such an image of macho men, and men in the region are increasingly seen to purchase a wider array of grooming products – a phenomenon that could be described as a growing feminisation of the Latin American man. So by portraying such an image, is Old Spice trying to achieve something different to distinguish itself from its competitors and will it work for the brand?
The Latin American macho
The archetype of the Latin American macho is a simple and careless man that only purchases shaving cream and razors.
The beauty and personal care industry, however, has been gradually contributing towards a redefinition of what it means to be a Latin American man. The first step was the sophistication of the shaving process. Afterwards, the industry started to offer a group of products for hair and skin care. In 2004, men’s razors and blades accounted for 40% of total men’s grooming sales, while in 2014 the proportion declined to 36%. Currently the consumer’s preference extend far beyond men’s grooming items, as men start to purchase traditionally feminine products such as face moisturisers, lip balms and body care items.
Personal care as modernity
This transformation of the Latin American man coincides with an emergent ideal of modernity evident in the region. The dominant concepts are cleanliness, control and efficiency, forming an untainted modernity, closely related with appearance.
The first concept is domestication: In order to aspire to modernity, men must control their nature, which is supposed to be smelly, hairy and unrestrained. Secondly, there is an idea of maintenance with the objective of regulating the effects of body emissions. Modernity is also asepsis when dealing with other people. Finally, this control entails a positive effect, as a clean, well-looking man is capable of achieving executive positions, success and fame.
Men’s grooming manufacturers have picked up on this trend. For example, Unilever has been very successful with this strategy. Through its brand Dove Men targets men concerned with the health of their skin, registering annual growth of 13% since 2010. In general, men’s grooming products are growing, particularly moisturising after-shave, hair loss shampoo and multifunctional products with properties that go far beyond the basic attributes of traditional products.
Annual Growth of Men’s Skin Care Products in Latin America
Source: Euromonitor International
Men’s skin care products grew by a 9% annual growth rate during 2009-2014, while premium men’s deodorants recorded a 12% rate in the same period. Men’s shampoo and men’s bath and shower products are also remarkable, growing by 6% annually.
The re-masculinisation of men
Going back to Old Spice, the brand is the banner of a re-masculinisation of men, which seems to be a reclaim of an old stereotype. The brand is looking to find a niche for itself by redefining the trend – a man’s body should not be domesticated; odours must flow at ease, following the same rhythm of their intense daily activities. Only a couple of products are necessary to handle all the smells; a deodorant, a basic fragrance. A man is efficient the way he is – crude, energetic and elemental. The key message is modernity can coexist with James Bond identities. And considering that Old Spice’s share is only 1% in Latin America, the brand has a lot of space to grow in the future.