The cover of Men's Health.

Men’s Health, GQ and Esquire all report a boost in ad pages for grooming products, and a number of titles are launching related promotions.

Appeared In
Special Issue
Men'sWeek issue 05/31/2012

REALLY INTO GROOMING: Men’s grooming habits are sure getting a lot of attention these days. In Morgan Spurlock’s new film “Mansome,” he gets models, actors, experts and comedians to weigh in on the subject. Judd Apatow provides this explanation: “I think you try to look good to meet a woman or you try to look good so the woman doesn’t run away.”

The editors at men’s magazines such as Details, Men’s Health, GQ, Esquire and Men’s Journal think it’s a little more complicated than that. Rodale is even planning to relaunch Best Life, in part, due to the growth of grooming. “Because Men’s Health readers are focused and achievement-oriented, they understand that looking great is an increasingly important tool for reaching their goals,” said Rodale editorial director David Zinczenko. “It’s one reason we’re bringing Best Life back; Best Life readers are already on top, but looking great is an important part of staying there.” Ronan Gardiner serves as publisher of both men’s titles.

This story first appeared in the May 31, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

One of the key drivers to the growth in grooming coverage is the money behind it. Last year, Men’s Health readers spent $1.2 billion on grooming products and ad pages devoted to this category rose 37 percent in June 2012 versus 2011. “Women have been held to standards of youth and beauty for a long time, but it’s a relatively new concept for us,” said Brian Boye, the magazine’s fashion and grooming director.

At Esquire, publisher Jack Essig said advertising for grooming products is up 45 percent for the first half. “We’ve made a big push on grooming in the last couple of years, talking to men about a common sense approach to taking care of themselves,” said Esquire editor in chief David Granger. “As the category has exploded and product for men has multiplied, guidance is more important than ever.” In addition to coverage in the magazine, annual grooming awards and its twice-yearly content in the Big Black Book, Esquire created a special digest-sized publication that ran in the December issue called “The Man’s Guide to Taking Care of Himself.”

GQ has found similar success, reporting a 37 percent growth in advertising across the grooming category versus last year. But for the magazine’s readers, it’s all about hair. So far this year, hair is the number-two overall search term on, ahead of shoes and suits and just behind watches.

Details is raising the game this month with the introduction of a retail partnership with Space NK Apothecary, where all 21 stores in the U.S. and shops-in-shop in Bloomingdale’s will feature curated picks for men’s summer essentials in the store. The products that have won grooming awards will feature a special Details seal. Will men visiting Space NK really care about Details’ endorsement? “This is a pilot program for us and I believe Details endorsing a product as best of the category will of course have an impact,” said editor in chief Dan Peres. The June/July issue has 16 edit pages and the back cover devoted to grooming. Ad pages for the category are up 79 percent versus last year.

Get ready for the battle of the seals. Men’s Health also has a “seal” program, as does Men’s Journal. “We are helping to thin out the decision-making process,” said Men’s Journal publisher Chris McLoughlin. “This will be like our version of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,” he said.

Let’s just hope all those seals don’t get confusing.

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