“Ours is an age obsessed with youth, health and physical beauty. Television and motion pictures, the dominant visual media, churn out persistent reminders that the lithe and graceful body, the dimpled face set in an attractive face, are the keys to happiness, perhaps even its essence.” – Stephen Kern1
Interestingly, PRWEB noted that a significant factor driving the growth of the men’s grooming products market is the meterosexual male2. In no other industry is the decadent display of the meterosexual male more prominent, or influential, than that of cinema. Since the 1920s, Hollywood has produced countless images that highlight the social benefits of physical appearance3. In cinema, seemingly no women can resist the seductive allure of a well-groomed, sharply dressed, toned and muscular male. Films featuring male actors Ryan Reynolds, Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling are contemporary examples of such. Thus, it is no coincidence that the “self-preservationist” concept of the body (which is portrayed in popular culture) is spurring the growth of the men’s grooming products market within consumer culture3. As such, it is imperative that practitioners understand the “self-preservationist” concept of the body when marketing men’s grooming products.
The self-preservationist concept categorizes body maintenance and enhancement in terms of the inner and outer body3. The inner body is concerned with the maintenance and enhancement of the body in the face of disease and deterioration; whereas, the outer body is concerned with the management of one’s physical appearance and the impressions of others in social settings3. In consumer culture the inner and outer body are conjoined; in other words, the purpose of body maintenance and enhancement becomes the management of appearance and impressions in social settings3.
Numerous examples of the self-preservationist concept abound within consumer culture. Obvious examples are found in exercise and dietary ads. However, examples of the self-preservationist concept can also be found in ads for men’s grooming products. Take for example the “Angels” Axe body-spray commercial. The persuasion attempt is predicated upon the social benefits of using Axe body-spray. And while this ad may arose cynicism, it should be noted that Axe body-spray is positioned as a product that helps men manage the impressions of the others – especially those of the opposite sex.
Furthermore, the Axe commercials are unique in the sense that they bludgeon the viewer with images that embellish the social benefits of using Axe body-spray. This is not the case with other brands. For example, Old Spice attempts to persuade consumers with the use of absurd humor, whereas Dove uses rational arguments as its persuasion technique. In either case, the motivation for using grooming products – management of one’s physical appearance and the impressions of others in social settings – remains constant (although this motivation may not always be portrayed in every ad).
Thus, when positioning men’s grooming products, practitioners must be cognizant of the self-preservationist concept of the body; as it is the management of appearance and the impressions of others that motivates men to purchase grooming products. However, the persuasion technique, as noted above, can vary case-by-case.
1Kern, S. (1975). Anatomy and Destiny: A cultural history of the human body. NY: Bobbs-Merrill.
2PRWEB. (2010). Global men’s grooming market to exceed $33.2 Billion by 2015, According to new report by Global Analysts, Inc. Retrieved http://www.prweb.com/releases/grooming_products/toiletries_bath_shower/prweb3685224.htm.
3Feathersome, M. (2001). The Body in Consumer Culture. In J. R. Johnston (Ed.), The American Body in Context: An anthology (p. 79-102). US: Scholarly Resources Incorporated.