NEW YORK: Brands owned by Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Beiersdorf are all stepping up their efforts to connect with male consumers, as they seek to tap in to what is increasingly becoming regarded as a previously neglected market.

P&G has previously stated its intention of focusing on men, a segment that it argued has been under-served by companies aiming to drive beauty and cosmetics sales among women.

Old Spice, its grooming brand, launched a body wash in 2003 which currently holds a 6% market share, having adopted a wide-ranging strategy with regard to communications.

These include taking on the title of the "official body wash" of the NFL and Nascar, as part of a broader effort by the world's biggest advertiser to step up its sponsorship activity.

It has also made a "shower tool", the Deck Scrubber, the packaging for which argues "an experienced seaman knows the gentler sex is unlikely to board a vessel whose deck has not been scrubbed as clean as the shiny inside part of an oyster shell."

Nick Patterson, brand manager for Old Spice body wash, said "male consumers are very loyal and like their regimens, and moving guys into the body wash category and away from bar soap is done by continuing to make them aware that there are products out there for them."

Nivea recently introduced Men Active 3, which can be used as shampoo, shower gel and shaving foam, and has been backed by print ads in magazines including GQ, Esquire and Men's Health.

Nicolas Maurer, a brand manager at Beiersdorf, the parent company of Nivea, said that while women buy products offering certain benefits, men typically look for convenience.

"We're talking to a more confident guy that knows who he is and what he stands for, and who is past the trying-to-get-the-girl stage," he added.

By contrast, Axe generally promotes itself as "an ally for guys to give them an edge in the mating game," according to Todd Tillemans, general manager of Unilever's skincare division.

Axe developed its own shower gel, which has a 7% category share, in 2005, and has since run a number of high-profile, related campaigns, such as "How dirty boys get clean".

In 2008, it launched the Axe Detailer, a two-sided cleaning tool that "looked uncannily like a car tire – totally masculine, totally functional, totally cool."

"The Detailer helps to build the clean credentials, and we have strong data that it helps drive the conversion from bar soap to body wash," Tillemans said.

Rose Cameron, chief strategy officer at Euro RSCG Chicago, said the difference between marketing to women and men is that the former are concerned with "pampering", and the latter with "performance".

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Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff