Brands articulate viewpoints
on beauty and social mission
Men's grooming drives innovation and growth
Category leaders rolled out
programs to connect brands with a
higher purpose beyond a product's
functional benefits. The purpose
usually involved sustainability
and the welfare of customers and
Factors driving these initiatives included
evolving consumer attitudes about
beauty and consumption, the influence of
millennials, and the power of social media to
strengthen or weaken brand reputation.
By championing a higher purpose,
brands also attempted to differentiate
and avoid commoditization in a crowded
and competitive category. Combining
commercial interests with a social mission
also facilitated expansion in developing
Brands emphasized wellness, naturalness
and internal beauty, rather than idealized
notions of female beauty. Brands also
introduced more products for men, as
masculine grooming remained one of the
fastest-growing category segments.
However, the personal care category grew
just 2 percent in Brand Value, as consumers
indulged selectively, and slower economic
growth in China and Brazil impacted sales.
The luxury segment performed relatively
well, driven by the personalization and
premiumization trends and the growth of
Luxury brand Lancôme led the personal care
category in Brand Value appreciation with
a 23 percent gain. Slower growth in China
resulted in flat Brand Value for Estée Lauder.
The 24 percent Brand Value decline of Natura
reflected a slowdown of Brazil's economy
and increased competition.
Acting on a higher purpose
L'Oréal Paris introduced its "Sharing Beauty
with All" project, promoting sustainable
production and consumption of beauty
products, and its "L'Oréal Share & Care"
program to ensure that its employees
worldwide have access to healthcare and
enjoy social benefits, including work-life
Estée Lauder added a corporate
responsibility function, appointing a high-level
executive to oversee progress in
several areas, including product innovation,
sustainable supply chain and social impact.
Dove, which introduced a more
expansive and inclusive view of
beauty and womanhood more
than 10 years ago, expanded on
the theme with a focus on building
and protecting the self-esteem and
individuality of girls. The educational
program sparked debate through
both print and viral video.
The Dove initiatives are part of
Unilever's corporate mission to
grow its brands while reducing their
environmental impact, and to make
a positive social contribution. As
more brands adopt a higher purpose,
the challenge for Dove is to retain its
Dove again moved beyond
functionality when it marketed
its Dove products for men in the
context of a wider definition of
masculinity. Dove Super Bowl ads for
Dove Care showed fathers with their
infants and grown children, including
a dad at the wedding of his daughter,
to emotionally convey the tagline
that "Care makes a man stronger."
The rise in male grooming brought large
opportunities and also challenges. The
facial hair trend, razor blades available by
subscription for home delivery, and the
millennial preference for electric razors
impacted the long-time leader in male
For many years, Gillette has sent men
razor kits on their eighteenth birthday. This
ceremonial passage into adulthood, called
the "Welcome to Manhood" campaign, was
based on the insight that once men select
a razor brand they tend to stick with it. The
market has changed, however.
Gillette launched an online razor
subscription service. It also introduced an
innovative flexible razor as well as electric
razors for trimming mustaches, beards and
body hair. In its "100 Years of Hair" campaign,
the brand cleverly showed the evolution of
male grooming, ending with a promotion for
Gillette's body razor.
In a video series called, "Life Hacks," Nivea
became a life coach for young men, offering
fast and funny educational tips for solving
problems, such as chilling wine quickly
or deodorizing sneakers. L'Oréal Paris
experienced strong sales in China for its
L'Oréal Paris Men Expert product line. The
men's personal care trend is most advanced
in Asia, particularly South Korea.
In a category with so much product
segmentation and choice, brands continued to
seek points of difference through innovation,
premiumization and personalization. Some of
the innovation came in the form of products
that offered solutions for specific needs, or
multiple benefits around a core promise.
Consumers continued to be concerned
about ingredients. Personal care customers
increasingly expected to receive scientific
reassurance that ingredients were natural or at
least not harmful. Hair care brands shifted to
scientific language to describe their products in
an attempt to build trust and give consumers a
reason to believe.
Oral care brands developed apps for
monitoring tooth brushing and making it fun for
children. Colgate offered apps based around
favorite cartoon characters like SpongeBob
SquarePants and Dora the Explorer.
Changing consumer expectations
influenced communication. More accessible
brand ambassadors replaced remote
supermodels. Young TV personality Kendall
Jenner for example, is a part of an emerging
fashion movement dubbed "Social Media
Modelling", and now represents Estée
Lauder. Brand ambassadors were popular
in Asia, where brands also recruit bloggers
after they've gained fame and followers.
Sampling, an important marketing tool in
personal care, became more challenging
because of declining customer traffic
in department stores, at least in the US.
Brands turned to alternatives like Birchbox, a
subscription service that delivers a monthly,
curated collection of personal care product
samples. This approach can be disruptive
because it provides new brands relatively
easy market entry.
Several P&G brands, including Gillette and
Olay, partnered with LinkedIn on a project
called "Face the World," about preparing
college students to present themselves well
in the physical and digital worlds.
L'Oréal Paris developed an app for
millennials. It worked as a mobile consultant
but also included a product delivery aspect.
Clinique opened a flagship store on Alibaba's
Tmall, which is a business-to-consumer
e-commerce platform in China. Estée Lauder
also opened a Tmall store. The site helped
brands penetrate beyond the major Chinese
cities where they have a physical presence.