JWT London’s “Masculinity & Modernity” research depicts a contemporary British male consumer

Advertising agency JWT London has conducted a research in summer 2013 to discover what it means to be a man today. The 27-page study reveals the insights into hopes and fears of 500 British consumers of three generations of men: Gen Y, Gen X and Boomers. The “Masculinity & Modernity: Investigating the Men of Britain Today” research spans three major themes—the outer man (self-image, style, beauty, body, and more), the inner man (signals of masculinity, male pride, and more), and marketing to men.

The Outer Man

The study reveals that in general there is more pressure on men in terms of desired physical appearance than in the past. Men have started to spend more money on their wardrobe and more guys switched to genuinely female accessories and colors. The biggest man’s anxiety about his appearance is staying fit, and most body-related concerns focus on weight and shape. Older men are less anxious about excessive hair on their bodies, while younger males say yes to regular hair removal (sometimes using traditionally female techniques).

Here’re some highlights from the first part:

—In general, 80% of respondents confess that the society wants men to dress well and be well-groomed—76% believe that there’s as much pressure on men as on women in this respect;
—The most dominating men’s anxiety in the body fit image area is keeping their physique in shape (43%); the top men’s appearance anxiety is the beer belt (41%) followed by man boobs (31%) and unsatisfactory abs (31%);
—23% Gen Y, 11% Gen X and 4% Boomers believe that brow waxing is acceptable, which this 25% Gen Y man and 9% Boomers are anxious about their extensive body hairiness;
—55% of male respondents  believe that skin care is acceptable for male, and 7% think that eye liner also can be on the male cosmetics list. 25% of man are comfortable with manicures.

Pic.: Top men’s appearance anxieties

The Inner Man

A dramatic change is now occurring in the traditional male/females roles in the society as women are taking over the reins, starting to earn more and getting into the directorship of top companies. Men are experiencing discomfort in this area and confess that they cannot be who they were anymore. There’s a switch to the feminine archetype both in families and society. Men state that now it has become harder to live up to society expectations and succeed professionally than 30 years ago. There’s also a change in men’s attitude to chivalrous behavior—most of such acts are still considered relevant, but there’s a gap in what men think and do.

British men today are more family-oriented than women, and younger male are more likely to share an equal load of childcare responsibilities than older ones. As to the top sources of pride for men, family and home-related duties like providing for family financially (84%), raising kids (80%) and completing DIY projects (78%) come on the top. Inner capabilities like being a gentleman (67%) scores over outer accomplishments like providing financial support for the family (51%).

Pic.: Top Sources of Pride for Men

Other highlights from the second chapter are:

— A total of 71% agree that the features that define masculinity have changed, and 43% of male respondents believe that today men are more well-rounded than three decades ago;
—Being married or living together in committed relationship is today more important to male (85%) than female (79%) respondents of the report;
—Expressing emotions comes before carrying heavy items, 62% vs. 61%, in the sources of male pride;
—Being a parent is really important for 77%, and 62% believe that they are mostly on the top of being good fathers. In general, 26% of men (Y and X gens) carry out 50% of childcare;
—79% of older representatives of Gen Y (men aged between 25 and 34) would consider taking increased paternity leave.

There’re a bunch of brand implications for each of the findings to provide consumer brands with some tips on how to leverage the stats for their future promotions. In the end of the research, these implications are packed into three major conclusions:

The Male Chameleon. Brands should support and navigate men in their search for the balance in life between the jobs of parent, partner, provider, worker and one of the boys, helping them become the best in the role they’ve chosen.

Respect Men’s Emotional Intelligence. Today a man is paying more attention to committed parenting, equal family roles and committed relationship, and brands are supposed to help male consumers feel comfortable with their emotional side and reveal what they really are, not supposed to be.

Welcome the New Consumer: Men. Today, men are venturing into household decision making, the area dominated by women. Brands should refocus the services, spaces, tools and communications to appeal to men, making the approaches inclusive and both genders-friendly.

“Men are not as one-dimensional as the media would often have us believe. Just like women, they juggle different roles of parent, partner, provider or one of the boys. Brands need to start acknowledging, reflecting and appreciating their complexity, rather than simply trotting out the same old tired clichés,” commented Marie Stafford, Planning Foresight Director.