MADE FOR MEN
Boom in Products Targeting Male Consumers (February 12, 2004)
Male-oriented products, ranging from apparel to sports cars,
have sold poorly in recent years but are now enjoying a resurgence. Those in the
retail and distribution industries have come around to the view that, among individual
consumers, products for men are back in style. Rising expectations of higher corporate
profits and share prices are persuading men, and especially those around the age
of 40, to start spending again. The desire to look good may also be a factor:
Increasing numbers of men are buying skin-care products, muscling in on a field
that once belonged almost exclusively to women. Sales of men's cosmetics have
contributed greatly to the overall surge in male consumption in 2003.
|The new Isetan store for men
Store Remodeled to Suit Men's Tastes
In 2002 spending by individual consumers, which accounts for roughly 55% of Japan's
gross domestic product, was led primarily by working women and middle-aged women.
When the Japan Research Institute analyzed 2002 consumer spending patterns, it
found that while consumption of female-oriented products, such as women's apparel,
had risen by 2.5% from 2001, consumption of goods and services aimed at men had
fallen by 4.6%. Figures for the period from April to June 2003, however, show
a 9.6% decrease in female-oriented consumption compared with the previous year
and a mere 2.5% decrease in male-oriented consumption, suggesting that the downturn
in male spending is slowing and that this sector may be about to bottom out.
Indications of a resurgence in interest in men's goods have not escaped the attention
of the retail industry. In September, the Isetan department store chain reopened
its men's store in Tokyo's Shinjuku district after work to completely remodel
the store was finished. The revamped store reflects the notion that male consumers
are less interested in brand names than in the individual qualities of a potential
purchase: 70% of the floor space is divided not by brand but by product type.
On the first floor - where customers' first impressions are formed - brand-name
boutiques have been replaced by a single accessories sales space in which products
are arranged by type. Similarly, prior to being renovated the suit floor was made
up of individual "shops" devoted to specific brands, with walls separating
Brooks Brothers from J. Press, for example. Now the walls have come down, and
suits of every brand are displayed on one common sales floor. Customers looking
for casual suits can now easily browse and compare products of many different
brands, and those looking for business suits can do the same. Changes such as
these have helped the remodeled men's store get off to a flying start: Sales for
the first two months following the reopening were 30% higher than for same period
the previous year, exceeding forecasts, and the store's fiscal 2003 sales target
has been raised from ¥33 billion to ¥35 billion.
Another Hit: Cosmetics for Men
Men are spending more in other areas, too. The Mazda RX-8, a new sports car, went
on the market in May 2003; by August over 10,800 had been sold, exceeding all
expectations. Mazda Motor Corp. ascribes the popularity of its new model to the
fact that it is both sporty and family-friendly. The RX-8 has four doors, making
it easier for a father to persuade his wife and kids that this car is a wise purchase.
Men's consumption of skin-care products has also increased. Motivated not by a
desire for physical beauty of the feminine kind but by a determination not to
present a greasy or prematurely aged appearance to the world, more and more men
say they want healthy, young-looking skin. According to a study conducted by Fuji-Keizai
Co., a Tokyo firm engaged in economic research, in 2002 the market for men's basic
cosmetic items and facial cleansers grew to ¥12 billion - 4.3% higher than
the previous year's figure - despite a decline in sales of hair-grooming products,
and this growth is expected to continue. Isetan's men's store is the first department
store in Japan to feature a sales floor devoted to men's cosmetics, which were
previously relegated to a corner of the women's cosmetics department in the Isetan
flagship department store.
Supermarkets and convenience stores are jumping on the men's cosmetics bandwagon.
Last year 7 Eleven Japan and Kommy Corp., a Tokyo beauty clinic operator, launched
a joint venture to produce and market a new line of men's cosmetics called Men's
TBC. Meanwhile, Nivea-Kao, a major cosmetics manufacturer based in Tokyo, is marketing
a new line called Nivea for Men. As if that weren't enough, health spas and nail
salons, once assumed to be an exclusively female province, are also seeing an
increase in male customers. Increased spending in this and other areas indicates
that men's interests have expanded beyond the areas traditionally associated with
Related Web Sites
Men's TBC (Japanese only)
Nivea-Kao (Japanese only)
Copyright (c) 2004 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.
(November 14, 2003)
A NEW LOOK
(June 17, 2002)