MMUK Man has done this exceptionally well by responding to an identified gap in cosmetics retail that has failed to serve male consumers effectively. Its monochrome brand identity is minimalistic, modern and masculine at once – from concealer to cover-up, its proposition is aspirational, luxury and positioned as a tool for optimising a man’s best physical features. It’s empowering rather than effeminate, and it’s a message that is beginning to resonate with men in the mainstream.
With that in mind, brand language must also be carefully balanced. Terms like ‘guyliner’ have a lot to answer for in terms of putting ordinary men off cosmetic experimentation. Instead, functionality and transparency must sit at the forefront of brand communications, with language that's clear and unfussy in order to have impact.
And as social norms evolve, male cosmetics must become more accessible at a retail level. Having worked in the retail interiors industry for over three decades, largely in beauty and cosmetics, I've recently collaborated with industry experts on developing a male cosmetics and grooming concept – dubbed The Y Code – that aims to fill the gap for a premium, masculine and perfunctory offering. It will elicit the interest of the everyday guy who may not usually buy grooming products beyond aftershave balm and hair gel by playing to the anthropological significance of male make-up – that it’s empowering – while presenting it in a relevant and modern way, focused on confidence and individuality.
Brands entering the male beauty space must show that they understand male consumer concerns and at the same time must confront societal concerns. The ability to offer a genuine, transparent and values-driven brand will be currency that cynical and hard-to-persuade male consumers will both understand and buy into.
Michael Sheridan is chairman and founder of global retail design agency Sheridan&Co.