The male psyche

We all know men don’t want pink wallpaper or flowery language, but exactly how should you map your offer to the workings of the male mind? Suzanne Bearne finds out

When Femi Latif, owner of Femi Health & Beauty, moved to new premises in Leicester after 19 years located in the city’s Highcross shopping centre, she decided to rebrand the salon with “men in mind”, tapping into the psychology of the male client. This led to a major rethink on everything including the colour scheme (from peach and mint to a predominantly white palette), décor and furniture to ensure her new salon appealed to her growing male demographic. Her strategy paid off: Latif grew her proportion of male clients from 10% to 25%.

Femi Health & Beauty is just one of the many salons and spas tapping into the men’s grooming market in the UK, which was valued at £1.5bn in 2014, up from £958.9m in 2009, according to analyst Euromonitor. Thanks to the Beckham effect, the well-groomed man remains in vogue. While many businesses already offer men’s treatments and retail products, it’s worth tapping into the male psyche to truly understand their behaviour in order to attract more male customers.

Talk the talk
“While men do visit spas and salons in this country and it’s on the increase, it’s still seen as a female-orientated environment,” says Philip Graves, consumer behaviour consultant and author of Consumerology. He says businesses should start their quest to attract male clients by using the right language, whether this is across their website, marketing materials or even face to face.

“Men want to get away from stress whereas for women, visiting a spa is more about having a holistic and indulgent time,” says Graves. “Companies should look to target men by imagining the proposition around terms such as ‘recharge yourself in 90 minutes’, which is more appealing than ‘come and spend a whole day with us’. Men get bored and there’s a limit to how much mooching they want to do.” The language used – across the website, by therapists and indeed on menus – is critical to making men feel comfortable enough to visit the salon and then proceed with a booking. “Men’s products should focus on a more linear way and cover the functional benefits; for example, ‘face fuel’ which is clearly saying what it will do and there’s nothing fluffy about it,” says Graves. “Don’t use emotive terms – men are less drawn to pseudo science than women are.”

Deborah Mitchell, owner of Heaven Skincare, says: “You have to use the language they use to make them feel at home. Make them feel safe and they will want to spend money.” It’s this thinking that informed the language for Heaven’s new male skincare range. Mitchell says she employed a “word scientist” to fine-tune the copy to appeal to more men.

We designed a range of products with steps one, two and three and developed a manual. We called it a manual as brochure connotates soft and fluffy and when men think about a manual, they think about putting something together.

"They like words like ‘complex’, ‘formulate’ and ‘solution’ – as they like problem solving and to mend things. These are the kinds of words that have broken down the barriers that would have stopped men purchasing skincare.”

Mitchell says the revamp has been a “revolution”, and adds: “Many brands bring out a men’s range but it’s a female product in grey packaging and men know it. When we first tried a men’s range we didn’t do it right; it sold and had a following but not like now. This has been a massive success.”

Men’s code
When Jack Dunn, owner of Jack Dunn waxing studio in Islington, London, redesigned his website, he gave all of his waxing treatments individual reference codes for general body treatments and unique names for the range of intimate waxing. “This made it much easier for clients to be able to book the treatments without being worried about their colleagues or friends overhearing them on the telephone,” says Dunn, who also trains for wax brand Perron Rigot. “Many of my clients have commented on how much easier this has made booking.”

As research director at consultancy Visuality Group, Nicola Scrafton has undertaken extensive research into the male customer. She noticed a level of disengagement with the male shopper compared to women and advises not to try and sway the male customer with offers. “Men aren’t as aware of promotions and offers as women are,” she says.

She advises: “Have a simple proposition. Don’t overcomplicate things with spa treatment offers. Also, men don’t like to have loyalty cards as it’s another thing that they have to own and remember.”

When it comes to branding, colour scheme is also important. Elemis recently revamped its men’s products as part of a brand refresh. The result was matte black, clean, clear packaging listing key benefits. This approach is welcomed by Scrafton, who believes the use of darker tones and “masculine fonts” appeal to men.

The website and marketing for beauty salon Smooth You in Dalston, East London, features neutral shades and has a dedicated male section with images of men in order to help attract them. Managing director Katie Shemesh says, “All of our marketing uses neutral unisex colours. The aim is to look high-end. It’s subtle – guys like that.”

Over in Leicester, as part of her wider rebrand, Latif says she made sure the word “men” was mentioned in most of the salon’s literature and publicity material, and made a point of using Decléor Men skincare products.

Nailing design
Aside from the language used to encourage men to book treatments and step into spas, owners are increasingly seeking to create androgynous environments that are comfortable for men through canny designs.

“Men walking into a traditional female environment can be intimidated so it’s important to allow them to feel comfortable,” says Richard Evetts, owner of interior design firm Reis Designs. “Allowing male customers to walk in without having to negotiate the receptionist encourages male walk-in business, and locating reception desks away from entrances reduces the ‘intimidation factor’ for men coming into a traditionally female environment. This means the man can enter without commitment and pick up a product, have a browse, then ask any questions.”

Paula Dowie, managing partner at retail store and salon design agency Ignite Retail, suggests having individual seating available in the reception area. “Men don’t want to be sat on a bench with other people. A man likes to feel ‘this my space’ and feel in control.”

With men “still getting used to” being in what was always seen as a female environment, Dowie says the journey within a salon has to be simple and clutter-free.

She adds: “One men’s study we did found that men don’t like to walk around - so make the journey clean with no clutter. Keep them in one space if you can and have gadgets available or let them plug in their phone. That makes them very feel very comfortable.”

Espa Life at The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire was designed with the male client in firmly in mind. “Each of the male and female changing rooms lead to separate heat suites,” says spa director Victoria Calcutt. Here, the male section has its own crystallised steam room, ice fountain, tropical showers, sauna cabins and own relaxation space. “Guests then have the opportunity to meet in the middle at the pool. I think it distinguishes it for men. It’s more enticing and attracts more men. They feel more confident to come to a spa; they may not have been to one before and they have confidence that they can relax in a men-only area.”

As well as muted tones, Shemesh designed Smooth You with the psychology of the male client in mind, locating manicure and pedicure stations in a room at the back of the salon. “They’re not in the window; they’re hidden away where no-one can see you,” she says, adding that this makes men feel more comfortable in the salon setting.

Selling to men
Evetts believes stocking brands aimed at men with clear communication and branding visible from outside the business gives men a commitment-free reason to enter the salon and browse retail products and check out treatments. “This creates the opportunity to present spa services to them,” he adds.

In June, Gleneagles made a small tweak to its spa retail offer to help the sale of its men’s products. “We identified that while we had individual products available for men, we didn’t have bespoke gifts,” says Calcutt. “We fed this back to Espa and they designed a collection of ten of their most iconic bestselling products, which is now available in the boutique. We’ve noticed that women are picking up the collections for husbands in an effort to educate them.”

But when it comes to making a purchase, experts agree that male clients are easier to sell to than women. “Men like to moan but they are easier clients, they’re easy to resell to and they take advice whereas women like to think about it,” says Shemesh. “We don’t sell to men in a particularly different way than we do to women – it depends on their character - but we do know men don’t like to hear fluffy language and they want to know about the ingredients and how it is going to work.”

This is echoed by Mitchell. “Men will buy all of the collection; they don’t argue,” she says, adding that spas and salons shouldn’t wait for male clients to ask for a specific product, but rather explain to them the benefits and how they would use it, in order for them to be swayed to make a purchase. However, the different ways men and women are targeted in the future could change dramatically. One new line of thinking is that we’re moving to a gender-free world, in which speaking to both sexes differently becomes irrelevant.

“The idea of ‘male tick here and female tick here’ is done,” Unilever’s head of global marketing Charlotte Settle said at Dermalogica’s recent stockists’ conference in Las Vegas. “We are moving towards a purpose-driven, non-segmented and gender-free version of identity.” She says the term “MX” will enter the Oxford English dictionary next year, recognised as the non-gender-specific option that you can tick on forms in the UK. “And in the US the University of Vermont is working on creating a gender-neutral vocabulary around the world, so they’ve done a piece on the words ‘he’ and ‘she’ being replaced by ‘they’ and the importance of that,” she adds.

With many spas and salons already adopting this new thinking with gender-neutral décor, attracting the wellgroomed man in the future is something they’re well on the way to nailing.