Personalizing Personal Care Product Packaging for Men

Growth of personal care products for men is driving change in packaging design

 Dark colors and humor

Traditionally, men have shied away from using personal care products for skin care, citing the use of creams and gels by women as non-masculine and ineffective. My–how times have changed.

Demand in personal care products for men is at an all-time high, with more exfoliators, anti-aging serums and eye creams populating retail shelves. As product sales continue to increase, brand owners are also beginning to focus their marketing efforts on men–an interesting shift in a sector typically reserved for women.

In response to this shift, packaging designers have begun to modify the packaging of personal care products to appeal more to men. And, as a result, men and women are purchasing very different looking personal care products that essentially perform the same way. The following article provides insights into why men buy the products they buy.

Men want products that employ straightforward advertising and use simple language to outline potential benefits. As an example, the packaging for Bulldog, a popular British men’s brand, engages male consumers with a short description of the product and its main ingredients in simple and direct language. “We talk to men the way they talk to each other,” explained the company’s Marketing director.1 The transparent advertising has proven to appeal to male buyers, but perhaps the most original aspect of Bulldog’s packaging design is its choice of mascot–a regular bulldog. The bulldog is simpler than a luxurious design or a picture of attractive models in artsy poses and puts men who might be uncomfortable with purchasing a personal care product at ease. The simple nature of Bulldog’s marketing strategy worked. The company now sells its products throughout the US, Europe and Asia.

Packaging products for men must visually be bold enough to catch the eye of the male consumer, yet denote a level of comfort for men who are still insecure about buying items like hair styling products and body spray. Striking this perfect balance is difficult, but men's salon, The Iron Society, made it look easy with its rustic packaging. The jars of grooming aides and sprays grab the shopper’s attention with bright, bold colors and old-fashioned fonts, looking more at home on the shelf of a barbershop from decades ago than the hair and beauty section of a retail chain today. Like Axe’s deodorant, which includes a “for men” description on the label, The Iron Society doesn’t need such a label because its packaging is clearly designed for the male consumer and “looks like it could easily be found in the motor oil section of a car store”.2

Finally, humor in advertising has proven to be a draw for the male consumer. Products like Benefit and Axe have used witty advertisements to break down walls between men and male personal care products. In its viral advertising campaign, Old Spice adopted its memorable catchphrase–“Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady”–to engage male consumers as well as women who shop for male grooming products.3 Using humor in advertising doesn’t just entertain consumers: it is also an extremely effective tool to increase sales. After premiering its advertising strategy three days before the 2010 Super Bowl, Old Spice sales steadily rose, strengthening its US market position (both for the men’s body wash and overall franchise) month on month.4

Similarly, the color and shape of a package helps the male consumer decide whether to purchase a brand or put it back on the shelf. For example, when Lierac Homme relaunched its skin care products, the company repackaged its products in “masculine colors and an understated, high-tech structure in black and silver.”

It is clear, packaging is crucial in men’s grooming because men are not as likely to comparison shop. While women often invest time in comparing brands and labels, male consumers are more likely to recognize the brand, function and benefits of the product right away.


“Gender-Targeted Packaging: 10 Packages Designed to Appeal to Men or Women”, QuickLabel,

“The Old Spice Social Media Campaign by the Numbers”, Mashable,

“The Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign, P&G,

“It’s a Man’s World: Men’s Grooming Breaks New Ground”, GCI,

“Smart packs for a rugged look”, PackagingNews,