As consumers, we have increasingly become more conscious and well informed about our choices, but there is one category that was ripe for disruption. Men’s toiletries.
During a chat recently with Hunter Johnson, founder and CEO of The Man Cave, (a for-purpose organisation that is helping boys and young men in Australia to develop a more healthy, positive masculinity, and that is championed by the likes of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) he pointed out the how alpha-male-ludicrous the names of men’s personal care products have been in the past.
Brut. Lynx Africa. Axe. Eau Sauvage. Not to mention the emphasis on those supposed ‘manly’ notes such as tobacco, wood and leather, reminiscent of masters of the universe in a gentlemen’s club, snapping their newspapers while ordering another Scotch and apparently, brutishly axing something. We were laughing at the how preposterous the language seems now, but there was an underlying serious to our conversation.
Johnson has launched STUFF™, a no-nonsense men’s personal care brand of body washes, deodorants and face scrubs that is dedicated to championing healthy masculinity, with a powerful philosophy.
“We see guys all around us suffering under the weight of limiting, toxic stereotypes that are reinforced by outdated brands. We know that suicide is the country’s leading cause of death for guys aged under 45; one in five boys will experience mental illness before the age of 18; and family violence kills at least one woman every week.
“We believe this is preventable if we invest in initiatives that allow men to break free of limiting constructs and express themselves more freely. Consumer brands shape culture.”
Like father, like son
Unlike women, who traditionally chop and change brands, men have often tended to purchase generationally.
“We know that boys often use Lynx Africa from the age of 12 and it continues to dominate the locker room to this day. I think their fathers and grandfathers are still using it, and that’s endearing,” says Johnson.
“But it’s subtly conditioning and objectifying them in a way that they’re not aware of. We want to change the positioning. What about, ‘Spray yourself and you feel like yourself’?
“What about that as positioning around your own authenticity – whatever makes you feel good, and for that not to be seen as feminine or weak or girly, as if those are negative things.”
Johnson notes that it’s a big price jump from Lynx to Tom Ford (Ford’s opulent fragrances retail for approximately $480) and he defined a gap in the personal care market where STUFF could also do some good.
“It’s a quality product, explores diverse masculinity, and it also happens to have a social purpose,” he said.
I had my son road test some of the range, and he sent me his thoughts, in haiku. “I really like it. Nice lingering scent. Rolls on easy. I’m gonna buy more”.
Generational change in action. Move over, Brut.