Is unisex personal care products the way forward?

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. searched Mintel's
GNPD to find out if this is also happening in the European 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, albeit from a small base.

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 the embarrassment out of buying such products, a core focus for unisex personal care products.

But looking at the recent product launches in Europe that fall into the unisex category it seems that the trend is also underway there, with a broad range of products suggesting that scope exists across many different niches.

In recent months unisex personal care launches registered by the GNPD have included shower, deodorants, body care and fragrances. Although unisex fragrances have been around for a number of years now, other categories have not been so well developed historically.

The launches includes a unisex line from Gianfranco Ferré that incorporates shampoo, shower gel, eau de toilette and body lotion; self-tanning wipes from Laboratoires Bioes; Softness deodorant from Byphasse; nourishing buffing beads from Quatre S Cosmetics and the Jean Paul Gaultier Gaultier 2 massage oil.

Jean Paul Gaultier has been one of the pioneers of the unisex fragrance, a category that has gained significant in popularity in the past few years. Testifying to this Gaultier has recently launched his Gaultier 2 Unisex Fragrance, alongside other unisex launches from Donna Karen, with Essence Labdanum, and Space NK's Melodrama fragrance.

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

The active state of the unisex personal care market in Europe is contrasted by a much quieter picture in the US market, where, beyond fragrances, unisex launches in the personal care category have amounted to virtually nothing, according to the GNPD.

As no market research firm currently holds any data about unisex personal care market in the US or European, the indications are that both markets hold plenty of potential for further development.

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

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