Marketing to a Male Audience: How Beauty Brands Can Advertise to Men

- 6 minute read
Digital Content Specialist​

Gemma Elgar is a Digital Content Specialist at Foundation where she creates and executes content strategies, including site copy, blog content, and more. She also conducts social media campaigns for our clients, and has spoken on a panel about creating sensitive campaigns for niche audiences.

It’s no secret that the beauty industry has traditionally targeted a more feminine audience. However, this is changing, as is the relationship between beauty and gender.

As we discuss in our newest white paper Mind The Beauty Gap: Male Beauty and Beyond the male beauty market is growing faster than in the female world. Although gender fluidity is becoming more common and gender-oriented interests or habits are fewer by the day, masculinity is still a big social identifier for a lot of men.

The beauty-conscious metrosexual male (defined as a heterosexual, urban man who enjoys shopping, fashion, and personal upkeep), for example, has become more relevant than ever within masculine identification – and by extension beauty marketing.

Male Beauty on the Rise

In the West, men have traditionally been under less pressure than women to maintain their image. For many, looking after their appearance – especially if it takes a lot of time or money – isn’t high on the priority list.

The below series of tweets concisely summarises the societal viewpoint and its knock-on effect until now.

However, image-oriented social media like Snapchat, Instagram and BeReal are making spur-of-the-moment selfies more common than ever, with a hand-in-hand effect of keeping people being on top of their personal appearance. BeReal has been around since 2019, but has ballooned in popularity this year. Today, 36.7% and 23.3% of men and women with an interest in beauty have heard of BeReal respectively, according to Global Web Index.

It’s these Social-first Gen Z and Millennial audiences that are behind the growth in male beauty. As we see in our piece about Male Beauty Audiences, men who regularly buy skincare, makeup and cosmetics products are more likely to skew younger – and also spend more.

How to Advertise to Men

As is so often the case in the beauty industry, Korean cosmetics are paving the way in the male marketplace. Rather than dramatized glamour as has been the image of beauty in the past, however, the Korean market focuses on a day-to-day youthful, healthy look.

As this look makes its way over to the west, brands framing beauty products for men as hygiene or health-related is more likely to gain a response than by framing them as a luxury, or do with ‘beauty’. Rather, skin and hair care should be framed akin to eating healthily or exercising, selling it as a necessity rather than an indulgent addition.

Targeting to men doesn’t have to always be as aggressively masculine as war paint for men. It works for their brand due to their specialising in makeup for men, rather than generalised beauty. Therefore, they choose to advertise with hypermasculine imagery and text to overcompensate for the traditional femininity of the makeup market.

However, when it comes to more general beauty, a gentler approach can also be taken to target men.

Going for Neutrality

Some great male-targeted advertising examples connect with their male audience via the umbrella of gender neutrality. Tom Ford opts for unisex packaging that looks timeless, sleek and glamorous with clean-cut shapes and neutral colours.

Aesop’s approach is to categorise their products by body part (hair, skin, body) rather than ‘for men’ or ‘for women’. All in all, you don’t need to directly go for the manly-man strategies for men to be a part of your audience.

Marketing to a male audience can be achieved simply by moving away from the hyperfeminine to a more neutral approach. You don’t necessarily need to go all out with the black and edgy sandalwood effect of War Paint, but Soap and Glory’s full-on pink probably isn’t the way to go, either.

The neutral approach allows brands to seem approachable to new audiences, and not intimidating or daunting in any way. Many men are already stepping out of traditional masculinity by considering the world of beauty – so make it an easy one for them.

Alternatively, if you’re a brand that appeals to more than one gender, having a ‘for men’ section could put you in good stead with this audience. A lot of men are afraid to tap into beauty products because of the way that they’ve been marketed and socially considered for so long. Men should be made aware that beauty does not equal makeup, and even when it does, they needn’t be put off.

Update Your Messaging

Does it clean out your pores? Will it reduce dandruff? Men like to know specifically what a product will do for them. For example, the success of brands like Lynx and Gillette hinge on smelling more attractive and providing a smooth finish for your shave respectively. What’s more, your results will improve further if you can provide the numbers.

Male audiences typically are swayed less by emotional messaging, and respond well to statistics, so will be more likely to buy a product if you can prove its effectiveness.

In fact, advertising all-around is key for a male audience. Not only do men respond more to adverts than women, but they’re four times as likely to respond to an advert with men in it than one with women.

Furthermore, the idea that ‘sex sells’ has been ingrained into marketers for decades now. In some ways, this is now a very outdated notion. However, in other ways, it’s merely shifted gears. The image of women fawning over a man is starting to die out, but body confidence and self-love is a better strategy than ever.

Sex alone doesn’t sell any more, but the confidence behind sexiness does. It’s no longer the concept of attracting the opposite sex that’s selling – it’s the concept of feeling comfortable and sexy in your own skin, for yourself.

Focus on Your Online Stores

While being online is a necessity now regardless, it becomes even more important when targeting beauty to men. A male audience is likely to research longer, and less keen to be seen buying beauty products, therefore they’re likely to prefer the discrepancy of buying online.

By optimising your online presence, you’re creating a safe space for men to explore their interest without having to sift through products in person.

Furthermore, your online store can provide extra features that are unattainable in their physical counterparts. For example, Sephora have a range of quizzes on their website that are designed to help customers find the right product for them if they don’t know where to start. This is another great way of minimising the intimidation of the beauty-sphere for men who perhaps aren’t used to it.

Specialise Your Paid Advertising

If you’re a male beauty brand, getting your products out there using offline channels comes with one core problem: how do you ensure you’re reaching men, and not wasting spend on female audiences?

The targeting that marketers are offered within digital ads solves that problem immediately, giving a greater granularity and predictability, and ensuring only men are seeing your ads.

Within most of the main paid media platforms, whether that’s Google, Facebook, TikTok or Twitter, you can use demographic targeting to specify where and when adverts appear – and to whom.

In Google Search, you can show up in hyper-specialised shopping contexts, by bidding on keywords such as ‘male moisturiser’ or ‘perfumes for men’.

Then, by combining your gendered audience filters and targeted keywords, you can really specialise who your adverts appear to and be visible for searches which are traditionally made by women. For instance, you can ensure you’re appearing when a man is searching “moisturiser” – maximising spend and standing out within your marketplace.

You can even use your paid ads to choose where your ads are being shown online. GQ.com, for example, displays this kind of targeted advertising, so by advertising here you could be sure that your adverts were reaching the right audience.

Digital Marketing with a Focus on Beauty and Wellness

As with anything, it’s important to remember that this guide is ultimately a generalisation of male audiences. No two men will shop in exactly the same way, so keep this in mind when finding the best way to market to your particular audience.

At Foundation, we specialise in  marketing for beauty and wellness brands. We can help you find the perfect voice and drive revenue within your desired audience – whoever that might be.

Get in touch with our team to find out more.

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