By Euromonitor International
Metrosexual, essentially the heterosexual male with an unashamed interest in shopping, fashion, fitness, and personal grooming, is becoming increasingly used and accepted to define male behaviour. There are currently some 1.5 million references to Metrosexual on Google and rising. The importance of the concept, according to reports, is that it liberates the young male from the macho straitjacket where overt care for personal appearance is viewed askance and interest in any cosmetic beyond shaving gel and deodorant is anathema. As well as freeing up heterosexual men to be more aesthetic and design conscious, it has the potential to create a massive new customer base in various fashion and personal product sectors, according to Euromonitor International.
In one way Metrosexual is the development of an aspect of the macho man often referred to as the 'peacock male', where the determinedly masculine male aggressively shows off his fine plumage to attract females and intimidate rival males. However, the Metrosexual is a more sophisticated variant, with the preening but without the aggression and with an implied acceptance of alternative lifestyles.
A recent survey published in the Dutch magazine Marketing Tribune demonstrated that Metrosexuality is fast becoming common among younger males with 'Metro behaviour' such as shopping, fitness and fashion interest scoring much higher among the under-35s than among over-35s.
Research also suggests that Metrosexual is not the exclusive territory of late teens and generation Y men, as many youth seeking boomers may also be seen adopting the characteristics. However, the Metrosexual lifestyle is more associated with young singles than with a married man with children.
New generation vanity
The essence of the metrosexual, and the characteristic which makes the trend a welcome evolution of maleness for fashion and personal products marketers, is that Metrosexuals like to shop, and the main target products are high added value, heavily advertised products with prestige enhancing brand names. Examples of Metrosexuality in action are Superdrug male eyeliner, called guyliner in the UK, and 'manbags'.
Another factor favouring the Metrosexual is increasing acceptance of gay lifestyles. According to some analysts, the association of current Metrosexual behavioural characteristics with homosexual men led to suppression of male instincts towards fashion, physical development for its own sake, and any male use of cosmetics. Metrosexuality however, does accept a level of narcissism: a survey of 2,000 teenage males in the UK in 2005 found that, on average, boys admitted to looking in the mirror 10 times a day, 96% used deodorant, 90% used hairstyling products, 50% used moisturisers and 25% said they might have plastic surgery.
According to research, 'fitness' is now the most popular sport in which males of all ages take part. In other words, fitness training to achieve fitness and good looks has become more popular than outdoor competitive sports and games like football. Thus looking athletic has assumed greater importance than being athletic. According to a recent report by the drugs charity DrugScope, one of the most popular recreational drugs amongst young males is now steroids and this prescription only product is now a 'metrodrug', used by young men as a short cut to the toned muscular body.
Metrosexuality has a strong link with a number of relatively undeveloped product sectors: research shows that men are spending more on personal care products than ever before. Euromonitor International's research shows that the global market for male grooming products grew by an impressive average annual rate of 5.7% between 1997-2005, with men's bath and shower products and men's skin care products driving growth with average annual rates of 11.1% and 10.3%, respectively.
Increasingly sophisticated products that have traditionally catered to females are being marketed to men with manufacturers like Biersdorf and Shiseido launching products such as anti-wrinkle creams, bronzing products and toning gels. This is well beyond the traditional male product sectors of shaving foam, hair gel, razors and deodorants. The trends are not confined to the US and Europe: in 2005 Nivea launched a skin-whitening product for men in Asia.
Some maintain that the younger male naturally accepts as normal, behaviour currently regarded as 'metro'. A survey of 1000 Dutch males under 35 found evidence that Metrosexuality among young males is only likely to increase. Already, 38% shop simply for 'new ideas' or 'fun', and 37% expect to shop 'even more' in the future. In addition, 55% expect males to use more day and night moisturising lotions, 40% expect more males to use facemasks and 60% expect more use of hair colourings.
Although there is still an element of humour in the treatment of the Metrosexual concept, there is little doubt that an important change in male behaviour is underway, such that the behaviour currently classified as Metrosexual is likely, for today's male tweens, to become 'normal'.
For further detail about this article and other related findings, please visit Euromonitor International by clicking here.