NEW YORK: Consumer goods giants including Procter & Gamble, L'Oréal and Unilever are heightening their focus on male shoppers as they seek to drive sales growth among this audience.

Procter & Gamble is currently expanding its Gillette ProSeries range by launching four products – including a face wash and moisturiser – in the US, to be followed by a global roll out.

Prices for these items start at $7 (€6; £5), and they will be promoted using free samples on Fusion and Mach3 razors and refills, as well as through online tools like blogs and video.

"We have an aspiration to be the biggest and best beauty and grooming company. But we can't get there unless we win with men," said Chip Bergh, group president of global grooming at P&G.

Bergh added that P&G's approach to connecting with this demographic would work on a similar model to that employed to build a bond with female customers.

"That's all been driven by education and marketing and the same will happen with guys," he said.

Procter & Gamble is also considering enhancing its alliances with Dolce & Gabbana and Hugo Boss in the fragrances category, and recently purchased the "super premium" shaving brand Zirh.

"We've got a portfolio of brands and the company's support to win with 'him'," said Bergh. "We've got pretty strong plans to do just that."

Euromonitor, the research firm, reported that global revenues for skincare, haircare and other such goods for men reached $26.6bn in 2009, up by 44% on 2004.

This trend has been apparent in China, where L'Oréal's sales of its skincare lines aimed at male shoppers rose by 26% year-on-year in 2009.

Demand has also improved by 40% over 2010 to date, a rate of growth that is around five times higher than among its brands specifically for women.

Jochen Zaumseil, L'Oréal's managing director in Asia Pacific, said offerings for men contributed 22% of all L'Oréal Paris sales in China.

This compares extremely favourably with the share of between 7% and 10% these products typically hold in Western European countries.

"It's huge, it's one of the biggest surprises of this market," he said.

One distinctive activity observable China is that of men and women making joint trips to buy cosmetics, although female consumers ultimately choose which brand to purchase 70% of the time.

"I'm still surprised how easy it is for Chinese men to colour their hair or use the skincare products of their wives or girlfriends," Paolo Gasparrini, ceo of L'Oréal China, said.

Elsewhere, Unilever is introducing Dove Men+Care across the globe, as it seeks to replicate the success of the Dove brand with women thanks to its rejection of the values of beauty traditionally used by marketers.

As part of this process, the FMCG specialist has recently unveiled an online campaign in Germany allowing netizens to choose which format of ad they viewed, from skyscrapers to video.

In Argentina, a survey commissioned by Unilever also found 70% of male shoppers believed they were "new men" with different values from older generations.

Furthermore, 50% of contributors in this category believed there was "no shame" in wanting to look good.

In India, Hindustan Unilever has also added Vaseline face wash and cream for men to its portfolio, and is taking a nuanced approach by targeting younger shoppers and particular retailers.

"It is always better to start with the young who are more amenable to change," said Govind Rajan, HUL's general manager, skincare.

"Men are wary of walking into a fancy and cosmetic store and tend to pick up products from chemists and hypermarkets."

Data sourced from Bloomberg, Financial Times, Unilever, Financial Express; additional content by Warc staff