P&G, Dial, Unilever Target the Middle Man

Move over metrosexual, and make room for the “everyday guy.”

Packaged goods companies like Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Dial have identified the next hot demographic in male grooming: Men who are interested in a more clean-cut appearance, but aren’t taking the idea to the extreme. Or, as Glenn Williams, a P&G rep, put it: Someone who falls between “metrosexual and Neanderthal.”

Various factors converged to create this new man. The advent of the “metrosexual”—a term first coined by British journalist Mark Simpson in the 1990s—opened the door for marketing previously women-only products like lip balms, conditioners and moisturizers to men, even though the new demo was somewhat overhyped.

“The metrosexual was never as true as we, a manufacturing class, wanted it to be,” said David Rubin, Unilever’s U.S. hair care marketing director. “He is there, and he still wants to be [marketed] to…but as a population, he’s actually very small.”

What’s been there this whole time, however, is a man who equates good grooming—which includes such previously feminine beauty items as body wash—with success and confidence.  Being men, though, many want their products to have demonstrable utility—often through multiple uses.

P&G researchers spotted this phenomenon several years ago while studying male grooming habits in the shower. Old Spice, which was branching out into the body wash category at the time, discovered that men used their significant other’s shower products, but secretly longed for their own.

“They’d have the body wash in their shower, but they’d take it out or hide it [when their friends came over], or they’d be really secretive when they shop in that aisle because they felt this was something they could use, but it sacrificed their masculinity,” said P&G North American hair rep Brent Miller, who once worked on Old Spice. “They loved the benefit, but felt it wasn’t something made for them.”

P&G, earlier this month, introduced Old Spice Ever Clear, an antiperspirant which bills itself as allowing guys’ “self-confidence to rise faster than a condominium tower in Dubai” by taking away the streak. (As in, “unsightly residue.”)

A recent study on behalf of P&G’s Gillette brand, conducted in partnership with pr firm Porter Novelli, found “success” and “confidence” to be extremely important traits among this group. But P&G’s not the only one going after this demo. Others include:

• Nivea: The Beiersdorf-owned brand is introducing what it calls the first body wash, shampoo and shaving cream combination in July. Print, TV and online ads for Active 3 carry the tagline, “Get more done in the shower.” Joseph Venezia, marketing director for Nivea for Men, said the launch taps into men’s need for an affordable, yet solution-oriented product. “It’s hitting on that male insight of, ‘I want it to be fast, convenient and economical. I want it to fit with these times.’”

• Dial, meanwhile, is gearing up for next month’s debut of Dial for Men “Magnetic.” Parent company Henkel is touting it as the first phermone-infused body wash that offers “attraction enhancing” benefits.  Magnetic also leverages the brand’s core promise of “ultimate clean,” which Scott Moffitt, svp and personal care business general manager at Henkel, defines as the type of benefit sought by guys who “reject the ‘metro’ trend and are not looking for their next ‘hook up.’”  “The goal was to make sure we reached not only the ‘grown up Gen X’ers,’” as Dial calls this group, “but also their younger brothers. And we offer them a way to build confidence around being attractive,” Moffitt said.

• Unilever’s Axe, meanwhile, created a men’s hair care line following rival P&G’s Gillette launch last June. Rubin, of Unilever’s hair care division, said it’s the “biggest innovation for Unilever among men.” It also recently introduced Axe Instinct in body spray form.