May 15, 2015

Grrrr…Making Your Packaging Appeal to the Modern Male

Grrrr…Making Your Packaging Appeal to the Modern Male

Male product packaging is sometimes assumed to be right for everyone, and sometimes it’s merely a copy of a feminine product with manly colors on it. What’s the secret behind appealing packaging for men?

When men aren’t hunting for bears, scaling Mt. Everest, barbecuing huge quantities of brisket, or shaving with a machete, they’re shopping for high-quality grooming products. No joke.

If you’re trying to appeal to today’s male, your packaging strategy has to be targeted. You might think that certain color combinations and fonts might do the trick, but consumers are growing savvier by the minute and won’t be swayed by simply substituting black for pink. Remember, you’re selling a lifestyle, not a gender identity.

Ultimately, you have to test the appeal of your male product package with a focus group before you’ll ever really know if it will work, but there are some launch points you might find useful. Here are a few things to remember when you’re designing packaging for male consumers who might not really be in the market for beauty [ahem] grooming products.

Make Your Package Rugged

We don’t want to exploit gender stereotypes, but there is a huge proportion of men who aren’t terribly concerned with beautification. However, they’ll still shave, wash their hair, and secretly trim their ear and nose hairs. Your product has to sell its effectiveness without hinting that it’s also used by the entire cast of “America’s Next Top Model.”

When we say “rugged,” we don’t mean turning it into the shape of a miter saw or making it durable enough to survive being dragged behind an all-terrain vehicle. Ruggedness also suggests pride in and an enjoyment of life’s rough unpredictability. It can mean being comfortable with flaws, and an appreciation of frightening character-building challenges. It’s a tough sell when the product is a facial moisturizer.

Once again, you’re selling a lifestyle. Think about who you’re trying to attract. Your manly facial moisturizer might leave skin protected and soft, but you might want to mention its ability to protect and soften skin during polar exploration.

Make Your Package Simple

The simplicity of your package will depend upon the product’s function. Simplicity isn’t always a less-is-more strategy; it is often the clear declaration of purpose. So, if you’re marketing a men’s styling product, you’ll want to make the kind of styling the product will deliver clear on the package. Many of your potential customers won’t fully appreciate the subtle differences between “soft hold serum” and “shaping and defining cream.” A picture of the type of hairstyles that the product will help achieve might do the trick more effectively than marketing descriptors.

While women tend to scrutinize labels and comparison shop, many men are a grab-and-go market. You want your package to deliver its message cleanly and instantly. Whatever benefits your product has must be recognizable at first glance.

Make Your Package Functional

Men want to be able to use their grooming products with a minimum number of steps. Your male product packaging should disburse the product in reasonable portions, ideally while in the shower. While there are quite a few products marketed toward women that involve multiple stages, little hidden drawers, eye-droppers and such, men typically do not respond to product complexities. Pump action, squeeze, or spray bottle, might be your best bets.

Make Your Package Trendy…to a Point

When it comes to beauty/grooming products, trends can be your friend. We don’t necessarily mean fashion trends; we’re also talking about use and ingredient trends. If your product has been researched scientifically, has ingredients that are currently popular, or addresses a problem that men might not have realized was easily correctable (or that it’s even a problem), you’ll want to exploit it.

Of course, fashion trends are often inescapable in a beauty product context. If use of your product is largely dependent upon a current trend, you should make that evident in the package design. The funny thing about today’s male fashion and grooming trends is that they’re referencing trends from the 1920s—haircuts in particular. Grooming products that aid in achieving a popular look should reference that ability in their package design. For instance, barber poles, 1920s graphics, and Art Deco references all communicate the Jazz Age aesthetic.

Men actually care about product packaging in beauty and grooming products more than women because they simply won’t buy a product packaged in a way that can be construed as “feminine,” no matter how much they might like the product itself. You’ve got a great opportunity to make your product appeal to a group that is notoriously difficult to impress. Find a way to make your package design taste like bacon and double as a gaming system, and you’ll be sitting on a goldmine.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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