A lot has changed since the beginnings of the male grooming market boom. After the “metrosexual” era (most men hated the term), we now have a wide variety of men from every background flexing their spending muscles in mixed-clientele salons. This signals the start of a migration to any convenient grooming
center, in which the real niche is you. Here’s what’s happening:
Marketers, who have long been chasing men, are undergoing an attitude adjustment. For starters, they’re abandoning the disconnect of too many products (pared-down routines are where it’s at), and recognizing that meeting men’s needs is moving from tapping the women in their lives to making a direct appeal to guys themselves.
Salons that are boosting their male business have long ditched the frou-frou decor and they, too, are amending their “male calls.” Their newest tactic: Skip the guy gimmicks and go straight to the “comfortable for all” approach. As a result, that familiar given—consistency—is sometimes altered, and national branding is giving way to localization (even Wal-Mart is doing it). In salons and spas, the translation is individualization and personalization, and even when the operation is a guys-only business, it’s got lots more local flavor.
John Allan launched his men’s full service and club membership concept in 1988, and a slew of male-only operations followed. By the late ‘90s, many of the free-standing operations had disappeared because men stopped traveling very far just for the “exclusive” factor. Men’s chains began fine-tuning their acts.
Gordon Logan, who founded the Austin, Texas-based Sports Clips franchise in 1993, says, “What’s changed over the years is that men want more than a good cut; they want an experience.”
To accommodate them, Sports Clips recently refined its MVP package to include a massaging shampoo, steam towel, facial massage, leave-in conditioning treatment, and neck and shoulder massage at the style station before a cut. The all-inclusive cost: $25.
“There’s been a gradual shift away from the efficiency model of inexpensive men’s cuts to the ‘Third Place’ theory,” says Logan. “After work and home, there has to be another place for escape.”
With 565 locations and 150 more to open this year, Sports Clips meets the modern need for convenience and marries it to the “staycation” trend-—relaxing close to home. Solo operations, like BBraxton, New York’s first all-male salon for African-American and Latino men, are filling explicitly local needs.