The MAN has undergone a transformation. And how!
The passive and apathetic existence of a 1980s MAN, inconspicuous to sundry marketers, has transformed to a very aware and involved MAN in 2016, a hot target for marketers.
Circa 1980: An average middle-class family would be pictured thus – The family comprises of three brothers ranging from ages 50 to 40 years, one a government officer, another a bank officer and the third a lawyer. All three have a comfortable earning and live in their ancestral home along with their aged parents, their respective wives, and their respective 2.5 kids. Children’s ages range from 23 years to 10 years.
The family lives in a simple way, owns few appliances like a mixer-grinder, a few fans, some wrist watches, a couple of two-in-ones and a B/W television set and not to forget the quintessential black telephone which is out of order most of the times. The brothers have two scooters and a car between them, shared as per need.
The men’s daily needs are taken care of very ably by the women in the family. Bigger expenses are always a joint decision. The really important decisions are still deferred to ‘Babuji’ – the patriarch. The three sons have one critical role in this family, though – they are the designated breadwinners of the family. And that is the sum total of their awareness about themselves.
Cut to 2017: Picture a similar family. The three brothers, all successful professionals, live in separate accommodations while the parents continue living in their ancestral home. The wives too, are all professionals and have flourishing careers themselves. The brothers now have 1.66 kids each. The 23-year-old eldest grandson has recently started working and has moved to a bachelor pad closer to his office.
Each of the brothers’ family has a countless number of appliances and electronic gadgets. Most adults have a car each and a few bikes amongst themselves. No one shares their gadgets or appliances or shampoos. At times they don’t even share the same breakfast items – while one enjoys sandwiches, the other wouldn’t give up on his muesli and milk.
Each family member has his/her own choice in almost all product segments, and shopping is accordingly done.
And this is where a very happy scenario for marketers unfolds. Marketers have traditionally considered women as the central and most influential shoppers in the family. But the marketers are really delighted now – they have a whole new segment comprising an equal number of new customers to market to – The MEN!
The MAN of 2016, irrespective of his age, is aware of himself, spares a thought for himself and is spending big bucks all by himself.
This sea-change is a result of many forces interacting with each other. There has been a massive shift in societal roles and norms, earnings are higher, finances are easier, decision makers have changed, spending patterns have altered and time has become the most precious commodity. The media revolution which happened concurrently has also played a crucial role in bringing about this change. The marketers who started to recognize MAN as a separate customer category early on altered their strategies and continue to reap enormous benefits. For example, suddenly it was no longer all right for men to use whichever shampoo was there in the bathroom. If you were a man you had to use a Clinic Plus or a Head & Shoulders – For Men variant or even the Beer shampoo. It also became all right for men to use fairness creams openly and not filch them secretly from their sisters and mothers. Emami Fair & Handsome was the first For Men product to be launched in this category and continues to be a front-runner.
Demographical Strategy – The modern man has no age. In other words, the marketers today have a ready customer in today’s MAN – whatever his age may be. The products he buys change according to his station in life which in turn depends on and varies according to various demographic variables like his age, location, earning capacity, family responsibilities, etc. The bottom line here is that this modern man is – buying.
Today the urban Indian man starts spending very early in life – even before he gets his first pay cheque in fact. He is always in need of something – a vehicle, an accommodation, a few gadgets to show off and his daily needs, wants and desires. Often he alone is the decision maker for most of his spending. As the demographic variables move on in his life, so do his needs, wants and desires. Marketers who do NOT market a one size fits all product to today’s man are doing very well.
Social Strategies – The modern man has in fact handed immense marketing opportunities on a silver platter to marketers.
Firstly, MAN himself has increased his needs and wants exponentially. The family home and family car don’t work for him. He needs his own home and a car now! Online shopping is his new temple and credit cards his best saviors. Only the latest gadgets and gizmos work best for him. And he is in love with the word ‘variety’. Sameness bores him. He is always looking for something different. Each ‘different’ is a marketing opportunity. The more the MAN’s material instinct rears up, the more avenues open up for a marketer to explore to his own advantage.
Secondly, since the turn of the century, there has been a gradual and widely welcome blurring of the traditionally accepted roles of men and women. Just as women are now common in corporate corridors, so are men increasingly seen in kitchens, on post – natal / childcare leaves and are even single parents. A decade ago it would be unimaginable that ‘the’ Shahrukh Khan would agree to buy groceries on TV. But now he is seen happily ordering and receiving his grocery in his kitchen in a TVC.
Today men are also buying so many products – almost always marketed to women – all by themselves – simply because their female counsellor-partners, be it the mother, sister, wife or daughter is too busy to buy or just not available to counsel them. Marketers need to step in on such occasions and help make this bewildered man the right choice.
Targeting the EQ – The 2016 MAN is everywhere. Except perhaps giving birth to a child – nothing else is a woman’s sacrosanct bastion. He is working hard to make a good life. He lets his hair down like crazy. He is health conscious. He makes sure he looks and smells good. The zit on his face worries him as much as the health of his six-pack abs.
He makes himself available – to his wife, parents, girlfriend, children and friends. He is not afraid to show his emotions. He is now buying jewelry all by himself for his wife – a Platinum love band to start his marriage with a solid foundation – an older Amitabh Bachchan is also seen buying a Tanishq necklace surreptitiously to surprise his beloved Jaya. Both are men, huge difference in age but are shown buying jewelry alone. A thought unthinkable a couple of decades ago.
Move over macho man – the metrosexual is here!
He is aware, and he is involved. And he is an equal shopper now. Each emotion he shows is a whole new marketing opportunity for a smart marketer.
The marketer needs to talk to this man. The marketer needs to inform him, educate him and give him choices – he is more than willing to listen, choose carefully and spend. And he spends big…
…For he will settle for nothing but the best.
Photo courtsey: Nivea Men Advertising