Demystifying Male Grooming

As a result of the selfie generation’s interest in personal appearance, or simply an overall increased interest in wellness, the male grooming category is booming. But for most guys, it’s still a bit of a mystery.

Stuart Wood

Founding Partner Missouri Creative


Missouri Creative - Assembly - Estée Lauder

There has been much talk over the last couple of years about non-binary gender choices and increased gender fluidity, and as a result many brands have rushed into this growing trend amongst Gen Z audiences.

Whilst quite rightly there is an increased sense of acceptance of more diverse lifestyle choices, when it comes to the psychology of shopping, the vast majority of men shop quite differently from women. Especially in the beauty and well-being categories.

It may be the fact that historically, women have been shopping for beauty products, and so they have developed a broader lexicon and deeper understanding of the ingredients, benefits and importance of beauty regimes.

Conversely, one of the biggest growth areas in the category is male grooming. According to Euromonitor, sales of grooming products for men in the UK grew by 3% in 2016, and across the country men now spend collectively a whopping £1.7bn on beauty products.

As a result of the selfie generation’s interest in personal appearance, or simply an overall increased interest in wellness, the male grooming category is booming. But for most guys, it’s still a bit of a mystery.

Missouri Creative - Assembly - Estée Lauder
UK men say they use face creams and lotions on their skin
growth in sales of men's beauty and grooming products in 2015 as reported by

Assembly, Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder owns multiple male grooming brands, but these were often retailed in a way that simply didn’t make sense to most male shoppers. Our challenge was to create an ‘umbrella brand’ for Estée Lauder’s male grooming portfolio that demystified the category for consumers, increased relevance, and ultimately made it simpler for men to shop.

We also had to create a tiered experiential destination where Estée Lauder could educate men on the world of grooming and demonstrate how products could fit into their lifestyle to help them enhance and express their personal style.

So, we set out on the streets of London to interview guys about their grooming attitudes, habits and preferences. We spoke to men in South, East and Central London to hear directly from them what things they look for when they are shopping for grooming products, and what Estée Lauder could do to facilitate their engagement with the category. We learned that for the broad franchise of male consumers, talking about grooming isn’t the easiest of conversations. And that although the overwhelming majority of men do want to look their best, they also don’t want to come across as if they are trying too hard. Men often lack a vocabulary around products in this category and want brands to make it easy for them to achieve their goals. They want to know more, but don’t want to be told. They want to discover for themselves. Based on these insights, it became clear that our main challenge was going to be breaking down the barriers to the category and encouraging self-exploration amongst our audience.

The Idea
According to Elodie Bohuon, Selfridges beauty buyer, another reason behind the surge in interest in male grooming is the adoption of a more male-friendly branding by the brands targeted at men. So, rather than searching for the ever-elusive modern-day metrosexuals - how many of them do you know - we decided to entice the broader audience of guys that probably don’t quite know what they want, definitely wouldn’t know what to look for, and may be slightly embarrassed to ask. All of whom are style-conscious men who want to look good and feel great. Our mission was to change the way these guys relate to male grooming by telling them everything they ever wanted to know but were too afraid to ask. So, we’ve dialed up the information and knowledge to give them a vernacular chiming with their everyday, breaking down barriers and borders to make access easy, and interaction obvious. We aimed at creating an all day, everyday destination that could be absorbed into the lives of our target consumers and allowed them to navigate the grooming category at their own pace.
The result
The result of that is Assembly, an umbrella-brand which houses multiple other Estée Lauder brands selling beauty products for male consumers. We created the brand positioning, strategy and naming, the visual identity, brand world and a scalable retail environment for the brand. The name references both the simplicity and graphic nature of flat pack assembly guides. The wordmark is functional, bold and simple whilst the missing sections in the wordmark suggest the process is not yet complete. The collaterals created always attempted to visualise and simplify the process, whilst still looking stylish, clean and modern. To conclude the design process, we created a very bold, graphic guideline document in all black and white for maximum impact. Assembly is currently being rolled out across the UK, from experiential to concessions.
Missouri Creative, London
Guest Author

Stuart Wood

Founding Partner Missouri Creative


In a previous life Stuart was Executive Creative Director at Fitch, leaving after nearly 12 years with a desire to get closer to a client’s business and a belief that choices can be designed. Since co-founding Missouri Creative, Stuart has created campaigns and activations across the Pernod Ricard portfolio, won numerous awards for new identities for the RNLI and Headwater Holidays and worked with Foot Locker to deliver on-and-off-line campaigns across 650 stores in 19 European countries.

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