Body washes cleaning up with men
In the old days, a shower for a guy meant using a bar of soap. But now more and more guys are using bottled gel soaps called body washes made specifically for them. Body washes are often used with special applicators that create a bubbly lather. Men's body washes gained popularity the last few years, and have now changed how American men think of soap. Twenty-five-year-old Daniel Smith used Old Spice body wash. He also sort of works for Old Spice. He travels the country working on Tony Stewart's race car, which is sponsored by the company. Smith says on race days, he gets filthy just getting ready for the race. "Now we have to put on fire suits, and go out and it's 90-some degrees outside," he says "... Sweat around in that for about 5-6 hours. So when you get home you smell pretty bad." And just like he has for the past 10 years, Smith cleans up with a body wash. He used to hide it because he had to use a women's product. But when body washes for men started showing up on shelves, this self-admitted metrosexual came out. He can't remember the last time he used anything but his body wash and loofah. "I actually get pissed off when I'm on the road and I have to use a rag, [rather] than using my loofah at home because it doesn't set up as much," he says. And the numbers show Smith isn't alone. According to research done for Deutsche Bank, body washes outsold bars of soap in the US for the first time ever last year. And it's widely believed that men who've made the switch are to thank. James Moorhead manages the Old Spice brand for Proctor and Gamble. His company takes credit for being the first to offer a men's body wash seven years ago. It did so, Moorhead says, because guys were underserved. "So as soon as we started to talk to them with relevant benefits that they were looking for, like long lasting scent, we saw the business respond very quickly," he says. Since then, company after company has added a men's body wash. Experts say the gel soap has a higher cost per use. And analysts, like NPD's Karen Grant, say companies have done a good job of creating a new "need" in men's lives. She equates it to energy drinks - something that went from being nonexistent to what many now consider a must-have. She says companies have done that by marketing their body washes as more than just soap. "If they were just going to basically offer you the same thing that you got in the bar of soap, no they would not and will not be successful," she says. "But I think where they are succeeding is that they are creating points of difference in these products." In advertisements for instance, scent is a major point of emphasis. But perhaps the biggest shift, is how men see grooming products. To many, what was once taboo, isn't any more. When the traditionally feminine Dove launched a new men's line last winter, NFL quarterback Drew Brees showed up in the ads. Old Spice has used Stewart to help do away with stereotypes. UNC Charlotte Marketing Professor Jim Oakley says those associations do work. "We expect to see Tony Stewart at the end of a race being dirty, using foul language at race officials or his opponents," he says. "He's a man's man or a guy's guy." Experts say young people are driving the trend. Old Spice targets men ages 18 to 24. Oakley says they're more impressionable and less married to the bar of soap than older men. And Oakley says their constant search for sex appeal is also a big factor. "If you want to be attractive to a woman, you can't just stink," Oakley says. "You've gotta have some control over what you smell like as well. And the better you smell, you're gonna be more appealing." The magazine Advertising Age recently reported that sales of bar soaps have fallen 40% since the launch of men's body wash. That's come at a time when the men's grooming market as a whole has grown significantly. Research company Global Industry Analysts predicts North American men will spend nearly $6 billion this year on grooming products. For those who see that as a softening of the American male, maybe they can take solace in this fact: sales in Europe are predicted to top $10 billion.