Will unisex products be the next big thing?

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Unisex personal care, Cosmetics

Latest research from the Asian market suggests that
metrosexualization of younger men is leading to a rising demand for
unisex cosmetic products. CosmeticsDesign.com searched Mintel's
GNPD to find out if this is happening in the US market.

With younger men moving towards skin care programs that are often as comprehensive as many women, a report in the South Korean newspaper Chosun recently highlighted how many men's are sharing the same cosmetic products with their wives and girlfriends.

Evidently Asian men are sharing products such as skin care lotions, massage ointments, body care and hair care products with their partners. Accordingly unisex personal care lines that include these types of products increased by 43 per cent this year and by 40 per cent in 2004 in South Korea alone.

Experts believe that the jump in the number of unisex personal care products in the Asian markets is down to men growing more aware about their appearance and often being more insecure about imperfections relating to their complexions and hair loss.

This year Bieirsdorf launched a Nivea brand skin lightening product in Asia specifically for men, after it became evident that they had been secretly buying another Nivea brand that was marketed to women.

Many such products aim to take this embarrassment out of buying such products, which is also a core focus for many unisex personal care products.

But looking at the recent product launches in the US that fall into the unisex category it seems that beyond unisex fragrances - an already well tried and tested formula - there only seems to be a trickle of unisex products coming onto the market, suggesting this could be a new niche for cosmetics companies to discover.

Jean Paul Gaultier was one of the pioneers of the unisex fragrance - a phenomenom that the company has built on in recent years and many have copied. The GNPD testifies that this is still a burgeoning category with a number of new fragrances from leading perfume houses in the last year.

Those launches include, Giorgio Armani's Privé, Calvin Klein's One Summer - a limited edition fragrance that was only available this summer - Mandragore and Limited Brand's Breathe.

Unisex fragrances tend to be subtle and light, extending their appeal to the broader market range it is aimed at.

Beyond fragrances, one significant skin care launch was recorded in the Mintel databases for the US market - Ultimate Face Balm from Body Logic Naturals. It is formulated with botanical oils and butters, which are said to give it high anti-oxidant qualities, but is only available in health stores in the state of Ohio.

As no marketing research firm currently holds any data about unisex personal care products in the US market, this is yet another indication of how undeveloped this market is.

All of this means that if men in the US are having to buy products marketed for women in secret, as the experts suggest, marketers will benefit by taking note of what is already happening in the Asian market.

This range of products is from a selection contained on Mintel's Global New Products Database.

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