DANA POINT, CA: Unilever, the FMCG giant, has built deeper connections with male shoppers by enhancing its understanding of their rapidly-changing habits, attitudes and notions of masculinity.

Kathy O'Brien, the company's vp/skin and marketing services, discussed this topic at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2015 Brand Masters conference in Dana Point, California.

And she revealed that offerings like Dove's Men+Care skin care range and AXE's White Label grooming line have benefitted from consistently drilling down into how this evolving audience feels, thinks and acts.

"Men's lives are changing dramatically right now," O'Brien said. "And change never is going to be as slow as it is right now." (For more, including details of the firm's "Crafting Brands For Life" model, read Warc's exclusive report: How Unilever builds brands.)

"This all seems to have hit men more in the past five to eight years. People talk about this territory as uncharted for men. They're shifting economically and culturally, as well as behaviourally."

In keeping with such an idea, this transformation has far-reaching implications socially, financially and – as a result – for the way that marketers should promote their products.

"As we look at the world around us, we find that men are taking on new multifaceted roles with a real sense of individuality, with confidence and with a new sense of optimism," said O'Brien.

"Households are becoming more gender equal, and men are doing a greater share of meal preparation and cooking.

"The number of stay-at-home dads – men who take care of their children full-time – has doubled in the past 15 years."

Working alongside these processes is a burgeoning desire to reach out and make connections, as encouraged and facilitated by a growing slate of digital platforms and devices.

"The big change that I see happening in the men's space is that men are becoming increasingly comfortable sharing their experiences in public forums," said O'Brien.

For Unilever, the challenge thus becomes meeting these needs in authentic and meaningful ways – and, frequently, overturning long-running stereotypes used by the ad industry to depict male consumers.

"Increasingly, we are seeing that men want to know more about brands that understand their personalities, what makes them tick. This is true more today than ever before," O'Brien added.

Data sourced from Warc