Industry sector: Consumer services

Male grooming: Sector trends


What has been happening in the male grooming sector?

Recent years have seen a huge increase in the number of men who are prepared to spend money on grooming and tanning treatments, personal care products, fragrances and so on. This has happened for a number of reasons, such as:

  • celebrities like David Beckham or Mark Wright using and endorsing grooming products
  • an enormous increase in the number of male grooming products available from major cosmetics suppliers
  • men becoming much more interested in caring for their health and their appearance
  • the long hours working culture encouraging men as well as women to look for relaxing and pampering treatments to help counter stress
  • the growth in the men's magazine market that boosted awareness of style issues and raised the profile of male grooming products (for example, the GQ magazine website offers grooming tips and advice to readers in the Grooming section)
  • the importance given to being well dressed and well groomed in the workplace
  • women increasingly asking their male partners to remove body hair

As a result, a new type of outlet emerged - the male grooming salon - offering a range of male-oriented treatments and products, often to an exclusively male clientele. Some of these salons have evolved out of former barber's shops, others have been set up from scratch and, in some areas, franchise opportunities exist.

According to industry sources, men now spend almost as much as women on health and personal care and grooming products. The economic downturn between 2008 and 2013 forced many salons to cut their prices in an attempt to boost demand but things picked up again as the economy recovered towards the end of 2013. The recovery continued throughout 2014 and into 2015 before slowing once again through 2016 and into 2017. Growth in the sector slowed to 3.1% in 2016 compared with annual growth in excess of 5% in the previous five years. The vote in June 2016 to leave the EU and the election in 2017 resulting in a hung parliament led to further economic uncertainty.

Since the Brexit vote inflation has started to rise, wages have stagnated and consumer confidence in the economy has fallen, putting pressure on consumers' disposable incomes. Despite this, government figures show that consumers have continued to spend on entertainment and experiences rather than on consumer durables so it is likely that the male grooming sector will grow more slowly rather than decline. The sector is forecast to continue to grow in the long term but competition is likely to increase as more new salons open and pricing is likely to remain keen as consumers look for the best deals, including searching online.

You will have to decide whether:

  • there is sufficient demand in your area to support your proposed business
  • you'll be able to compete against other outlets in your area offering similar services

Keeping up to date with developments

The Guild of Professional Beauty Therapists represents the interests of those working in the beauty industry. Although these have traditionally been aimed at female customers, the Guild also provides useful information for those working in the male grooming sector. Contact the Guild at Guild House, 320 Burton Road, Derby DE23 6AF.

The British Barbers' Association supports barbers, male grooming salons and men's hairdressers and is committed to raising professional standards. It has a free membership scheme and you can sign up online. Visit the Association website for details of member benefits.

The Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) is a non-profit making organisation that represents a wide range of professional therapists, including health, beauty, fitness and sports therapists. The FHT has an online catalogue selling a range of therapy products. Contact the FHT at 18 Shakespeare Business Centre, Hathaway Close, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO50 4SR.

Trade shows

You will be able to obtain a lot of useful information if you go to a trade show for the male grooming sector. You will be able to meet manufacturers, suppliers and importers and plan your future stock buying. The Exhibitions UK website includes details of trade shows that may be of interest to you.

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