Sheet Masks & Me Time: How men skincare brands break stereotypes via social media

With heavy reliance on influencers, men's skincare brands are increasingly focussing on promoting self-care among men on social media.

Jagruti Verma
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Men's skincare social media

With heavy reliance on influencers and brand ambassadors, men's skincare brands are increasingly focussing on promoting self-care among men on social media while breaking stereotypes that promote toxic masculinity.

Somewhere between dark shades and masculine attributes, advertisements selling products to men more or less ignore their vulnerability or the need to slow down. This is an attitude that is slowly changing with the help of social media and influencers. According to an ASSOCHAM report released in 2018, the male grooming industry in India stood at INR 16,800 crore back then and was expected to touch INR 35,000 crore in the next three years — potentially this year. The industry was expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of about 45%. Clearly, it is a lucrative market with plenty of opportunities for men's skincare brands to capture the imagination of their target groups via social media content and advocacy.

This is where influencers and brand ambassadors play an important role. Ayushmann Khurrana's work with The Man Company is one of the best examples of how vulnerability can be woven into the DNA of brand communications. His poem around the concept of a gentleman was able to cut through the clutter of all things masculine, questioning these gender-based stereotypes. The brand has since then forayed into launching several products, including a DIY foot care kit — essentially dismantling the train of thought that men wouldn't care to get a pedicure.

Influencers & Influence

The scope of communication and advocacy that influencers offer to men's skincare brands is unparalleled. These are real people with audiences that follow them for authenticity. The combination thus created helps the industry in multiple ways — on the user end, men are able to get over their internalized notions around masculinity and on the brand end, demand and commerce. The communication thus ranges from solutions to skin-related issues to much-needed indulgences.

Self-Care & Self-Love

Men's skincare brands are increasingly putting up visuals of men enjoying the act of looking after themselves — on brand pages as well as via influencer marketing. These images show men taking a few minutes off their routines to take care of their skin and rejuvenate. On occasions like Valentine's Day, the communication around self-care tilts towards gifting — either to self or a loved one.

Following Routines

According to an age-old stereotype, men don't need much when it comes to toiletries. The fact that they can, in fact, care for themselves and have a routine is perhaps a big shocker to people who agree to such a thought process. Men's skincare brands are destroying(?) these notions, one post at a time. These brands are promoting the concept of a self-care routine and the need to take it easy sometimes.

Also Read: #SSWellnessWatch: mCaffeine & gender inclusive self-care communication on social media

Sheet Masks

Sheet masks are perhaps the most revolutionary product when it comes to men's skincare ranges. Communication around sheet masks goes vehemently against the idea that using a face mask or a face pack (or taking care of one's face in general) is an anti-masculine trait. The social media communication put forth by men's skincare brands around sheet masks falls somewhere between the juncture of being masculine and being vulnerable.

Issue-centric communication

Much of communication around skincare in general, irrespective of the target groups in question, revolves around the issues people face when on a regular basis. These products are packaged as solutions to specific issues. This is true for men's skincare products too. From acne control to looking fresh for a video call while working from home, every situation seems to have a product being depicted as a solution via social media content — leading to potential sales.

Sports & Partnerships

Men's skincare brands have forged associations and partnerships with sporting events that traditionally have a male-dominated target audience and/or player lineups. These associations open the door for various communications and content pegs that can reel people in to try products and/or participate to win hampers. Nivea Men has been doing this the most prominently. Partnerships with e-commerce platforms like Amazon offering discounts on men's skincare products are also amplified using social media.

While there is a long way to go for skincare brands to more inclusive in their communication, breaking stereotypes around men and their skincare routines is a good start. Brands in the domain have successfully leveraged male brand ambassadors and influencers to infiltrate age-old notions and attack them from within. It would be interesting to see how they progress on this path and how they shape the category for years to come.

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