Gender-neutral to be the new standard in skincare and makeup, says GlobalData

Pride month may have ended, but the discussion around gender norms and their impact on the personal care market – which was valued at $474.2bn in 2020 – is only beginning. The changing perceptions of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ have affected product marketing and consumer decisions, prompting brands to re-think their positioning and align their offerings with more inclusive or neutral messaging, writes GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Nina Nowak, Senior Researcher at GlobalData, comments: “A brand’s social stance and philosophy should not be underestimated as key growth elements, particularly as 27% of female and 24% of male consumers worldwide claim that a brands’ support of social causes is a decisive factor in their choice of product. A preference for brands with an authentic social stance that aligns with consumers’ personal beliefs reflects the importance of the personalisation trend.”

According to GlobalData’s 2021 Q1 global consumer survey, 53% of global consumers stated that how well a product/service is tailored to their needs and personality either always or often influences their product choice. However, the desire for tailored beauty and grooming products does not necessarily translate to a demand for gender-specific launches.

Nowak continues: “Despite the need for personalised products, gender-specific marketing might go against current trends. The scrutiny that some male-targeted makeup brands have met with is an example. Created to accommodate a niche consumer group, often overlooked by ‘female’ brands, male makeup brands tend to be met with backlash for reinforcing gender stereotypes. A positioning focused on being discreet and neutral allegedly drives a wedge between what is appropriate for women and men. As a result, we can observe a shift in attitude and a new generation of brands that strive to serve all consumers. Such an approach may help brands to appeal to all shoppers, without alienating anyone.”

The success of gender-inclusive brands shows that although the idea might have been seen initially as risky or controversial, consumers were eager to embrace the easy, hassle-free concept. Multiple recent launches are marketed for both genders, without making straightforward gender-related claims. Released in the UK, Fenty Skin Butta Drop Whipped Oil Body cream delivers a ‘self-care moment’ and uses images of both women and men. In the USA, Milk Makeup’s Sunshine Skin Tint delivers a light skin coverage for everyone, with various shades presented on both men and women.

Nowak concludes: “Marketing strategies in beauty and grooming categories have drawn on gender images for decades. Still, as the conventional ideas of male and female roles in society evolve, so does their portrayal in consumer products. Gender-neutral skincare and makeup display those changes. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach might soon replace the female and male-targeted positioning, for a truly inclusive and modern beauty product concept.”

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