Canadian Vending

Features Innovation Trends
Dispensing Strategies: It’s a Guy Thing

It’s a Guy Thing


June 13, 2008
By Michelle Brisebois

Topics

Being a guy has traditionally been a fairly low-maintenance
proposition. Haircuts are less than ten dollars, you can wear the same
suit to every wedding or funeral you attend and nobody questions it.
Best of all – you can go from fast asleep to out the door in less than
ten minutes. No jewelry to co-ordinate, no twenty-step beauty regime.
At least – that’s how it used to be.

Being a guy has traditionally been a fairly low-maintenance proposition. Haircuts are less than ten dollars, you can wear the same suit to every wedding or funeral you attend and nobody questions it. Best of all – you can go from fast asleep to out the door in less than ten minutes. No jewelry to co-ordinate, no twenty-step beauty regime. At least – that’s how it used to be.
 
Apparently, it’s not that way anymore. Trend watchers have noticed that the male mantra of “function over form” has shifted. Guys are suddenly more concerned about their appearance, their health, fashion and household amenities.
 
We can mourn the demise of the “guy’s guy” or we can recognize this shift as a golden marketing and sales opportunity. If you have vending machines in areas that are traditionally inhabited by males (such as manufacturing facilities and sports arenas) you may want to re-think your product mix.
 
The term “metrosexual” was coined several years ago to describe a heterosexual male who is completely comfortable with his feminine side. Sociologists theorize that as women have become more educated, financially independent and have entered the work force, they now have the luxury of choosing a partner that pleases them rather than one that would be a good provider.
 
Suddenly, the stakes had shifted and men needed to compete for desirable mates by being physically attractive and interested in topics that appeal to women – enter the trophy husband. This trend may also simply be a manifestation of the baby boomer obsession with youth. Boomers (born in the forties, fifties and early sixties) have always been a self-absorbed bunch – dressing and acting younger than their chronological age.
 
Compare male icons of today to those of yesteryear. Soccer player David Beckham has been photographed wearing sarongs and his wife’s pink nail polish, and his hairstyle changes more often than hers. Pretty-boy Brad Pitt has a side business designing jewelry. Compare these role models to the likes of Sean Connery or John Wayne and you can see that society’s image of what men are like has changed. Savvy brands are taking notice and changing too.

Euromonitor, a market research firm based in Chicago, is predicting that overall sales of male grooming products will surge 67 per cent to $19.5 billion US by 2008. Shopper’s Drug Mart now sells Nair for Men wax strips and Biotherm has launched a wrinkle corrector specifically targeting men called “Homme.”  L’Oreal launched “Vive” this past year, a line of hair care products targeting men based on research that showed men were anxious about going grey, losing their hair and getting dandruff.
 
According to Strategy Magazine (August 2005), sales at store level of the Vive line are 15 per cent above objectives. Men are watching their waistlines too. The Calorie Control Council in the U.S. found that 39 per cent of men were buying diet beverages in 1994. That number rose to 53 per cent by 2004. PepsiOne with its bold macho packaging, targets the guy who doesn’t like the word “diet.”
 
Men are taking an interest in appliances and household organization systems too. Maytag has launched the Skybox, which is a small beverage vending machine. The Skybox keeps 64 12-ounce cans or 32       12-ounce bottles chilled inside. Maytag      markets the Skybox with the tagline “For the Bragging Rights.” They also utilize a series of customizable sports logo themes.
 
Whirlpool has developed a garage organizing system called “Garage Works” that includes a home dry-cleaning system. Hip Hop music artists have made jewelry acceptable for young men to wear. Teenage guys seem to think that sporty-looking accessories, such as surfer-dude necklaces and armbands made from bone, wood, or shell beads on a rubber or leather cord are cool. Stainless steel jewelry is also popular.

Take a look at your channels and especially those locations that skew towards the male population. While “surfer-dude” jewelry may not appeal to the Baby Boomer men (they already did the zodiac medallions along with perms in the seventies), you may want to look at your product mix and test some new items.
 
Perhaps including more personal care products or healthy low calorie food options in your machines may boost sales. Men are still men, so we must still consider efficiency and effectiveness when marketing to them. Men probably won’t go through time-consuming rituals in the bathroom like women do. Start with a few items and don’t overwhelm with too many SKUs.

Advertisment

 This gender blending may have an upside beyond the sales and marketing opportunities for businesses; it may actually help men and women to understand each other better. I think comedienne Rita Rudner summed it up best when she said, “I think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage. They’ve experienced pain and bought jewelry.”

Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical and financial services industries. She specializes in brand strategies. Michelle can be reached at: briseboismichelle@sympatico.ca.