THE DEATH OF THE METROSEXUAL
December 17, 2013 — Remember when “metrosexual” or “metro” was a term people used to describe a certain kind of guy who was straight but also well-groomed and into wearing nice clothes that fit well? The word was coined back in 1994 by writer Mark Simpson but only truly caught on in 2002, when Simpson penned an article for Salon.com called “Meet the Metrosexual.” For a while, “metro” was a common vocabulary word, but in recent years it’s become nonexistent. What happened to the metrosexual?
What happened is that the metrosexual guys began to become the rule rather than the exception. Guys who are well-groomed and into fashion no longer seem to be a bit high-maintenance. In fact, this self-care is now something many men expect for themselves — and something women expect of their guys too. The descriptor “metrosexual” became rather useless, just as the terms “unleaded gasoline,” “automatic washing machine” or “power steering” are redundant at this point.
Think about it: These days, pharmacy shelves are full of products for men that have popped up only in the last few years. And they’re products or brands that used to be targeted solely to women. Aveeno has a line of men’s shave gel. Dove sells a “Dove Men shower tool” that’s essentially a more masculine-looking loofah. In May of this year, Amazon launched a department strictly for men’s grooming products.
Great news for brands and the folks who market them, right? Now men can shop for just the right hair paste or facial moisturizer — crafted specifically for them, not their female counterparts — and not feel the least bit ashamed about it. Turns out the death of the metrosexual wasn’t so tragic after all. In fact, it opened the door for a wealth of new brands, line extensions and advertising.
What remains to be seen, though, is how this newfound individualization of grooming products for men affects the product innovation within the grooming industry overall. Right now, even though men are finding more and more products formulated for their gender on shelves, the innovation still originates with women’s products and then adjusts to expand into the men’s grooming space. Will there come a day when the spark begins with men’s products and then trickles down into females’ domain? And can marketing drive the demand for innovation? Moreover, could marketing to women actually affect innovation in men’s products? These are just some of the issues we’re investigating at Frank About Women.