It has always been assumed that women are the only people who consume cosmetic products. However, from observation and studies that have been conducted in the last few decades, it has been identified that men also use these products. Additionally, the rate at which men consume these products has been increasing at an exponential rate over the last few years.
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This increase in consumption rate has created a high demand on male cosmetic products. It is due to these factors that the current study was conducted.
The main aim of this study was to determine the factors that affect the consumption of cosmetic products in the male population. To effectively cover all these areas of study, the objectives of the study were:
- To identify how marketing can influence the consumption of men’s cosmetic products.
- To identify the difference in the consumption of cosmetic products by men of different levels of incomes.
- To determine whether men have a variety of cosmetic products to choose from.
Questionnaires were used to collect data from the target group. The study had a sample size of 110 individuals. Random sampling technique was administered to conduct the interview to eliminate any forms of biasness. The data that was collected was analyzed using SPSS.
Using the software package, Chi-Square tests, t-test and Pearson correlations were used as tools for providing information regarding descriptive statistics. From the results, it was identified that advertisement using celebrities played a significant role in the consumption of male cosmetic products.
It was also identified that men had a wide range of cosmetic products to chose from. Finally, it was identified that the income levels of men did not affect the consumption patterns of cosmetic products. From these results, it was concluded that men, as much as women consume cosmetic products to improve their self-image and boost their confidence.
The cosmetic industry has for a long time relied on women as their main target consumers but this is slowly changing. There is an emerging male market for cosmetics and it is growing fast. Cosmetic manufacturers have started acknowledging this fact, and are now trying to find ways of tapping into the male market and exploiting the huge potential there.
Recent studies show that male skin care products already account for more than 30 percent of the market in western countries (Noordhoff, 2004). Similar growth trends are being seen in Asia, especially in those countries that readily embrace western lifestyle ideas like Japan, South Korea and China. Hong Kong has emerged as one of the best markets for doing cosmetics business in this region.
There is zero import duty on cosmetics and toiletries and no registration or labeling requirements. It presents the perfect entry point into China for most of the foreign cosmetic brands. China is now the fastest growing market for cosmetics in the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2007 alone, the total sales for cosmetics and toiletries in this country were valued at $14.3 billion, which represented an increase of 73.3% from 2002 (Murray, 2005). The cosmetic manufacturers are now paying more attention to male consumers to expand their market share in this niche. There is now a variety of male cosmetic products like anti-wrinkle creams, facial creams, hair products and skin care products.
However, the manufacturers are yet to fully understand the attitudes and perceptions of men towards the consumption of cosmetic products. The aim of this paper is to look at how marketing variables can influence the consumption of men’s cosmetic products. The target groups are men in Hong Kong, which is a fast growing market for male cosmetic products.
The market segment for men’s cosmetic products is growing and manufacturers are trying to find ways of taking full advantage. A study commissioned by L’Oreal, which is one of the largest cosmetic manufacturers in the world, the Chinese market for men’s skin care products rose by 27% in 2009 and 40% in 2010 (Waldmeir, 2010).
This phenomenal growth of the male niche presents a great opportunity for all manufacturers in the cosmetic industry. Several companies are now focusing on male consumers and producing different products targeted specifically at them.
However, there is still little research on the consumer attitudes of men towards cosmetic products. The manufacturers need to know how to market their male cosmetic products better so that they can reach into this market with huge potential. This paper aims to shed some light on how marketing variables influence men’s consumption of cosmetic products.
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There are three main objectives that this research paper will focus on:
- To identify how marketing can influence the consumption of men’s cosmetic products.
- To identify the difference in the consumption of cosmetic products by Hong Kong men of different levels of incomes.
- To determine whether men have a variety of cosmetic products to choose from.
Several studies have been conducted on the consumption of cosmetic products. These studies have however, concentrated on the consumption patterns of cosmetic products by women. Turner (2008) discovered that contemporary society is attaching a lot of importance to body and physical appearance.
Burton (1995) showed that women put a lot more value on personal beauty and physical attraction as compared to their male counterparts.
Souiden (2009) argued that women are more psychologically committed to consumption of cosmetics than men, and that is why men are less likely to engage in impulse purchases of the same as compared to women. For women, buying cosmetics is like a necessity while men still view it as a luxury (Burns, 1998).
These are just but some of the researches that have been conducted by women. From a social view, the consumption of cosmetics products by men has increased in the past few decades. For instance, the research that was conducted by the French cosmetics giant L’Oreal revealed that Chinese men are increasingly accepting that appearance is vital for professional and social success (Waldmeir, 2010).
For a long time, women are the ones who have held this perception and it played a big part in driving cosmetic sales amongst them. Such attitudes and perceptions are also likely to drive more men into regularly using cosmetics (Dillon, 2003). The fear of losing their attractiveness is one of the motivating factors behind increased male consumption of cosmetic products.
The main reason behind men’s consumption of cosmetic products is to maintain their identity (Featherstone, 1991). A relative proportion of men in the modern world have tried to change their self-image through cosmetic products to try and adapt to the new roles expected of them (Aaker, 1999).
Men also use cosmetic products to identify with symbolic image presented by the products (Grubb, 1987). Sirgy (1982) found out that consumers will go for products that promote positive self-image.
Men are motivated by the images and ideas associated with the cosmetic products (Fiona and Elke, 1998). Kellner (1992) claimed that the different meanings associated with the products are used to boost the fragmented self-image of individuals.
From a personal perspective, men as individuals do not mind aging. However, the process of premature aging associated with lifestyle choices and pollution is a major concern (Temple, 2005). Such concerns drive men to seek cosmetic products that they believe that they slow down the process of aging so that they remain young and attractive for longer.
In a departure from the past when women did the shopping for men when it came to cosmetics, men are increasingly buying their personal care items on their own (Loo-Lee et al., 2005). This is because men have come to appreciate the importance of personal grooming without necessarily being pressured by women (Estelle and Finnegan, 2005).
Men are also more knowledgeable about the various choices available to them (Galloway and Clark, 2003). By shopping on their own, men are able to choose what they feel would best suit them, based on the knowledge they have gathered about the various cosmetic products for men (Clark and Holmes, 2004).
Marketing of cosmetics products has also changed the manner in which men view cosmetic products. This has greatly affected men consumption behavior of cosmetics products. It has been shown that there is a big difference in the manner in which men and women process information related to the consumption of products (Burton, 1995).
It has always been believed that men approach the task of shopping differently from the women (Chiger, 2001). Traditionally, women have been known to be more likely to purchase aesthetic products while the men are more likely to go for functional products (Dittmar et al., 1996).
In analyzing the consumption of cosmetic products, it is clear that it has been traditionally associated with women (Dano et al., 2003). Beauty products are usually considered an important aspect of women’s culture (Coulter et al., 2003). Women readily spent a big part of their income and time on cosmetic products they believe will make them look more attractive.
Men, on the other hand, paid little attention to cosmetics due to past societal attitudes (Inler, 1998).This is the main reason why there are numerous studies on women’s consumption of cosmetic products while the men’s shopping behavior in regards to cosmetics has received little attention (Burton, 1995).
However, there have been a lot of changes in the cosmetic market, and men have become important consumers of cosmetic products as well. Many men are increasingly purchasing different personal care items out of their own volition. Men are becoming more comfortable with doing their own shopping for items like skin care products, toiletries and fragrances (Sturrock and Pioch, 1998).
The men of today have also become part of modern consumerism just like the women (Bocock, 1993). As the men become major players in modern consumerism, they look to create their own identities. They are able to achieve this through dressing style, body image and having the ‘right look’ (Davies and Bell, 1991).
The manufacturers are also sponsoring many studies aimed at learning the consumer behavior of men towards cosmetics (Lambert, 2010). The cosmetic manufacturers have discovered that the male market holds a lot of potential that is largely unexploited.
A lot of resources is now being put into the manufacture and marketing of men’s cosmetic products (Milligan and Neuer, 2009). The major companies now have a whole range of different cosmetic products for men, and they also set aside huge budgets for advertising the same (O’Sullivan and Pearce, 2007).
Social and cultural pressures are some of the main reasons driving this change in the consumer behavior of men. There have been a lot of social and technological changes in the modern and postmodern era, and this is reflected in consumer behavior as well (VanRaaij, 1993).
One of the most outstanding characteristics of the postmodern attitudes towards consumption is that both men and women are involved in equal measure (Sturrock and Pioch, 1998). Social expectation is putting pressure on today’s men to want to look better and remain vibrant (Nickel, 2004). In many societies, it is becoming the norm to be fashionable (McCracken, 2003).
Body image has become very important in today’s society, whose beauty standards have been further reinforced by the mass media (Wolf, 2002). The need to conform to prescribed societal norms concerning attractiveness is as important to men as it is to women since it is seen as a prerequisite for success (Patzer, 2006). The idea of being an attractive individual is seen as the key to success (Peiss, 1998).
The change in culture, beliefs, and norms within the society has also affected the manner in which men perceive cosmetic products. Changing attitudes in social circles are also contributing to men’s consumption of cosmetic products (Cardona, 2000). Caroline (2005) found out that men consume cosmetic products to fit in with their social friends. They do not want to be seen as backward.
The increasing number of women in the workplace is also putting men under pressure to groom themselves (Milligan, 2011). Men feel the need to look good at the workplace. The workplace is one of the areas where men feel intense pressure to take personal grooming seriously. The idea of using cosmetics is also readily acceptable in the office environment than outside (Lou et al., 1998).
Men who are conscious about their image are likely to be perceived as serious businessmen (Caroline, 2005). Men have come to believe that a good image can play a big role in bringing success at the workplace. Men who are serious about their personal grooming are likely to enjoy more success in the business environment (De-Loris, 2001).
The cosmetic industry has moved to capitalize on this change in men’s consumer behavior by undertaking different studies aimed at developing appropriate strategies for meeting the needs of men (Weber, 2002). Recent studies show that younger men (18-34 yrs) do much more shopping in the retail stores than their older counterparts.
The men in the younger age group (16-24 yrs) are now shopping openly for health and beauty products than was the case in the past (Coley and Burgess, 2003). This open embrace of cosmetic products by men is seen by some researchers as evidence of gender-blurring (Kacen, 2000). Young people are usually more open to change and trying new things (Ronald, 2003).
Tremendous changes in the society have led to the emergence of young men who put a lot of value on aesthetics just like women. This phenomena has been referred to as feminization of masculinity (Iida, 2004) and the metro sexual generation (Clarkson, 2005). These metro sexual men are usually found living in big cities, and they place a lot of value on aesthetic appearance.
They are thus willing to put in a lot of efforts and spend a lot of money to boost their self-image and live a certain lifestyle. They have gone past the conventional masculine values and embraced a new, trendy lifestyle that values looks and physical appearance.
They are willing to spend money on fashion, healthy foods, fitness clubs and cosmetic products. Living in the big cities is seen as progressiveness, and everyone there wants to belong and conform (Phelan, Robertson and Sanders, 1997). The big city environment is more open to the idea of cosmetics consumption by men so the men there feel more comfortable buying and using these products (Thomson and Valdermont, 2000).
The various aspects of city life put a lot of emphasis on personal grooming so the men have to ensure that they conform. Celebrities are used to endorse the cosmetic products to offset the negative perceptions towards metro sexual men (Nizar and Miriam, 2009). Celebrities are used to make men feel more comfortable with the idea of using beauty products.
They have helped in changing men’s attitude towards the idea of consuming cosmetic products (Cole, 2008). The celebrities who endorse cosmetic products have good looks and style that are highly regarded by heterosexuals (McCracken, 2003). Most of the celebrities used, like sportsmen and movie stars have masculine roles, and this helps offset the attitudes that cosmetics consumption is a feminine thing.
This presents a potentially huge market for cosmetic manufacturers but there have been relatively few male-specific strategies in the cosmetic industry. The few recognizable strategies, like the media campaigns that target men directly, have played a significant role in increasing men’s consumption of cosmetic products.
Having reviewed a few of the studies done on men’s attitudes and behaviors when it comes to the consumption of cosmetic products, it emerged that there are certain variables that play an important role in all these. These variables can be grouped into three general categories.
The category of personal variables refers to physical appearance, aging concerns, health and fitness and self-image. The sociocultural variables touch on societal perceptions and the new consumer lifestyles.
The third category is for the marketing variables, and the main factors here are advertising and purchase situation. This paper will focus on the marketing variables and how they influence the consumption of men’s cosmetic products.
When compared to the female target market, men’s cosmetic advertising still has a long way to go. Of course there has been significant progress, and there has been an increasing number of media campaigns aimed at men. Media ads related to men’s cosmetic products and images of physically attractive men are now found all over (Iida, 2004).
There has been an increase in the sales of media, like magazines that target men specifically, and they are being used for these advertisement campaigns. The increase in advertisement campaigns for male cosmetic products has made more men comfortable with the idea of using beauty products.
It has also been noted that majority of these ads do not dwell on the traditional aspects of male masculinity (Mort, 1988). They try to project a modern image of men where grooming is the norm. The use of popular male icons like celebrities is bringing a lot of success in changing men’s attitudes towards consumption of cosmetics.
The main is to change people’s perception of cosmetics as a women’s thing, but instead as a useful product that even macho men can benefit from. Many companies have run successful ad campaigns using movie stars and sportsmen for positive imagery.
These are cultural icons with a great following in the society, and they can be used to promote and reinforce positive attitudes towards male consumption of cosmetic products.
There are also some situational factors that come into play before a man decides to purchase any cosmetic products. These include the channel of product distribution, the store location and environment, and the availability of knowledgeable attendants (Weber, 2002). The distribution channels used for men’s cosmetics include pharmacies and spas.
For these places, the cosmetic company is trying to avoid the feminine association with the products, and instead presents them as medical care products. Men’s cosmetics can also be sold in mega stores or through the internet so that men can enjoy discretion and fair prices when making purchases.
Stores or counters dedicated exclusively to men’s cosmetic products are also used, and this is seen mainly with the brands that try to project an image of top quality and luxury. The store environment also plays a significant role in influencing purchases of cosmetics by men (Chao and Schor, 1998).
There are studies that have looked at how consumer perceptions are shaped by elements like colors, music and brightness (Loo-Lee et al., 2005). The visual aspects like signs, layout and architecture of the retail stores have a major effect on attracting and retaining customers, and giving the impression of quality service (Baker et al., 1992).
This is why some cosmetic companies and retailers have put up dedicated corners specifically for men’s cosmetics. There are also places where there are exclusive shops for men’s cosmetics. The main reason behind all these strategies is to make men feel comfortable about purchasing cosmetics.
In this study, secondary data was attained by reviewing works which have been done in the field of marketing especially in the case of consumer response of men and women on cosmetic products. This included the works on buyer behaviour and marketing strategies that have been done in the field of cosmetic products.
This data was obtained from books, magazines, peer reviewed journals, online articles and other relevant sources. Through literature review, the methods that had been used in the previous studies were also be borrowed and applied in the current study.
Also the recommendations of the previous studies were considered in the current work. Information from literature review was therefore used as a guiding tool in conducting the present study.
However, to complement on the secondary data available in the study, it was essential to conduct a primary study. This was a quantitative research conducted in the form of a survey. The study used structured questionnaires to collect data from men at shopping malls in Hong Kong.
The men were all above 18 years of age. The use of shopping malls was strategic for the study since there was a higher chance of finding men who are more open to the idea of using cosmetics. People who are out shopping are also likely to be relaxed, and they would be more willing to take time and participate in such a study.
A shopping mall also presents a variety of shops so there is likelihood of finding men shopping for different products from different shops. The survey method was chosen since it is fast, economical and convenient. The method is fast since the questionnaires can be handed over to many men at the same time. Each person only needs about 10 minutes or less to complete a questionnaire and be on their way.
The use of questionnaires is economical since there are no elaborate instruments, tools or equipment needed for collecting the data. Collecting data using questionnaires is also very convenient since all the researchers have to do is to introduce themselves and request participants to spare a few minutes.
They will then give a brief explanation of what the survey is about and what the participant is required to do. The use of questionnaires also allows for instant response and quality control (Groves et al., 2004). The study used a sample size of 110 to ensure that a broad set of data was obtained. To help realize the objectives of the research, the researchers conducted non-probability sampling.
This was because the research needed respondents with specific characteristics (Lau and Lee, 1999). The questionnaires used had questions in four general categories. The questions in the first part dealt mainly with societal perceptions towards men’s consumption of cosmetics and how it affected men’s use of the same.
The second part dwelt on the men’s perceptions, especially trying to find out the benefits men expect to get from using cosmetics. The third part explores how available cosmetics are to men, in terms of costs. The aim was to find out if cost was a major barrier to men using cosmetic products.
The questions in the last section dwelt specifically with the role of marketing in driving men’s consumption of cosmetic products. Before conducting the actual research, the questionnaires were pre-tested using 10 respondents to see how relevant the analysis was. The pre-test led to the modification of the questions to fit better with the objectives of the study.
Raw data from the field is of no use since it does not make sense. It is mainly composed of numbers and codes which need to be analyzed to make sense. In this study, the analysis of data involved three major steps:
- Data preparation – This involved the organization of the data which has been collected for easy analysis.
- Descriptive statistics – This step entailed the description and interpretation of the data which has been collected.
- Inferential statistics – This was done to test whether the data which has been collected is consistent with the hypothesis of the study. This is where either the null hypothesis or alternative hypothesis is proved to be true.
For accurate analysis of the statistical data, a computer program called SPSS 16.0 was used for descriptive data analysis. The data were explored using descriptive statistics and histogram plots will be used to determine the shape of the distribution for each sample variable.
Data analysis was carried out using parametric tests where the data will follow a normal distribution and where the sample number will equal to or greater statistical power. Where the data failed to follow a normal distribution or where the data was split into groups of less than the sample size (n), non-parametric test was be used.
For example a several Chi-Square, t-tests and correlations were carried out on the data to explore any linear relationships between the variables. These tests were essential as they gave information with regards to the relationship that was presented between the variables hence supporting or rejecting the hypothesis of the study and the research questions. Therefore, from these analyses, a concrete conclusion for the study was arrived.
From the analysis that was conducted in the study, the following results were arrived at. The information included in this section of the study was gathered from the 110 surveys that were conducted. Chi-Square analysis, t-test, and Pearson correlations were used as a tool of in depth analysis in the study.
The survey that was conducted only focused on male respondents. This was due to the fact that the study aimed identifying the attitudes and perceptions of males towards cosmetics products. Most of the respondents who were interviewed in the study were married.
This group accounted for 49.46% of the entire sample size. Single men were second comprising of 23.66% of the sample size. The reminder of the population was made up of widowed, divorced and other. Additionally, an equal number of respondents between the ages of 18-30 years and 31-43 years were interviewed.
Each one of these age groups comprised of 46.88% of the sample size. Individuals between the ages of 44-56 comprised of 6.25%. Finally, majority of the respondents (43.01%) had attained college level education while 30.1% had attained high school education.
Concurrently, majority of the sample size were part time individuals (32.26%) while 28% were employees at a professional. From these results, it is evident that most men who are highly educated and hold desirable position in the respective field of employment are conscious about their self-image hence the high reliance and awareness about cosmetics products.
To fully understand this trend, a chi-square test was conducted to determine the impacts that advertisements of male cosmetic products had on the target market. From the respondents who were interviewed, the following results were arrived at.
The frequency count of advertising in playing a significant role in making men use cosmetic products has the majority saying they agree with a percentage frequency of 50%.
The effect of use of male celebrities to create a positive effect on male cosmetics:
|Value||df||Asymp. Sig. (2-sided)|
|N of Valid Cases||10|
|a. 16 cells (100.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 10.|
The Pearson Chi-Square asymptotic two sided significance assessing whether use of male celebrities in advertising has a positive effect on male cosmetics was insignificant since 0.357<0.05 p-value. There is a strong association between the effect on male cosmetics and use of male celebrities with a two-sided insignificance of 0.389<0.05 p-value depicting a positive influence on targeted advertisements
To determine whether purchase trends and marketing strategies have influence on the manner in which men consume cosmetic products, a t-test was conducted to compare the purchase trends of individuals with high income and low incomes.
From this test, it was determined that despite the fact that men cosmetic products were expensive, the purchase trends did not vary among individuals of different income levels. The test is summarized in the table below.
From the above results, the value of men who consume cosmetic products is more than 0.05. It is thus insignificant to state that the consumption of this product is mainly by individuals of high income levels due to their high market prices.
Finally, it was identified that men had a wide array of cosmetic products to choose from. This was determine after conducting a Pearson correlation test. The table below can be used to summarize the results:
The correlation results shown above are significant at the level of 0.01 (2-tailed).
Cosmetic products have for a long time been associated with women. Women have for a long time used these products to enhance their appearance and improve their confidence (Brune, 2004). However, with time, a new trend has been slowly creeping up into the market.
It has been identified that men also have started to venture into consuming cosmetic products (Temple, 2005). Over the years, several studies have been conducted to determine the trends that are related with the consumption of male cosmetic products.
The results that were arrived at from other studies indicated that there is a proportion of a male population who utilize cosmetic products to boost their appearance and to increase their confidence (Brune, 2004). However, unlike women, these individuals use cosmetic products that boost their masculinity (Miller and Roo, 2004).
However, these products do not come cheap. Male cosmetic products have been associated with high prices (Ronald, 2003). Despite of this, the findings of this study revealed that the consumption of these products did not necessarily rely on the income levels of individuals.
Thus, it can be concluded that males mainly consume cosmetic products to enhance their looks in a bid to improve their representation within the society. However, from a closer look of the results, it is evident that individuals who earn some income are the highest consumers of cosmetic products.
This is reasonable as the people who make up this group usually interact with respectable people. Thus, it is essential for them to maintain a desirable profile as their image and appearance matter a lot in their line of work (Nixon, 1992; Michelle, 2008).
Several factors affect the manner in which men consume cosmetic products. This study managed to identify several factors that influence the consumption of these products. Disposable income is the first factor that played a critical role in the consumption of this product.
From the study, it was identified that it is the males who hold key positions within the employment sector have the capability of purchasing and consuming cosmetic products. This is because these products are essential both in their work as professional and as a means of satisfying their own personal needs (Halliwell, 2002).
Age was also another factor that played a significant role in determining the purchase and utilization of cosmetic products (Lambert, 2010). It was identified that male cosmetic products were mainly consumed by individuals between the ages of 18 and 43 years.
The group comprises of the most active segment of the population. Many males in this category either are students or employed. According to Murray (2005), such individuals possess higher level of self-image and awareness than any other group within the male population.
To improve on their self-image, utilization of cosmetic products has been one of the main options that these men utilize (Halliwell, 2002). This has in turn increased the consumption of cosmetic product as the size of this group has been increasing over time together with their need for cosmetic products.
To create awareness about male cosmetic products to their target market many companies have used several marketing strategies to market these products. Advertisement with the use of celebrities has been one of the main avenues in which companies have used to reach to their target audience (Lau and Lee, 1999).
In this study, it was identified that there was a direct relationship with the use of celebrities in male cosmetic adverts and the consumption of the product. This is due to the fact that many individuals view celebrities as their mentors and role models on different grounds including fashion and grooming (Halliwell, 2002).
As such, to keep up with current trends and to ensure that they look good, men have not hesitated to use the cosmetic products which many celebrities in the world use. Thus, adverts with celebrities on have played a significant role in boosting the sales of cosmetic products all around the world (Lau and Lee, 1999).
A tremendous revolution is being experienced in the cosmetic industry. This is an industry that was mainly dominated by female consumers. However, within the last few decades, the number of male consumers has increased. This has come about as a result of the realization that just like their female counterparts, men also need to look great and improve their personal appearance which in turn boosts their self esteem.
In addition to this, there are also other factors such as educational background, age, occupation and marital status that affect the consumption of the product within the male target market.
This study identified that the product was mainly consumed by individuals with a relatively high income who are between the ages of 18 and 43. However, to ensure that detailed information is arrived at with regards to this topic of study, the same study should be repeated over time and in different locations to determine the trends over time.
This study has shined a new light into the field of cosmetics with regards to the consumption of the product by men. However, to enhance on this field of study several considerations need to be put into account.
First, further study needs to be conducted on the impacts of income and the consumption of male cosmetic products. In this study, it was revealed that income did not play a significant role in determining the consumption of male cosmetic products.
This will give a clear understanding of the economic, social and cultural variables that affect the consumption of male cosmetic products. Finally, a similar study should be conducted in different times of the year. This will create an avenue of having a clear understanding of the trends that affect the consumption of the product.
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