A big part of marketing and advertising is understanding your target audience. Effective marketing requires a deep understanding of the wants and needs of your potential customers. It’s also important to understand that wants and needs of a target demographic can shift over time. Marketers who are targeting male audiences may think they understand what masculinity means, but it’s a concept that has constantly changed throughout time. A recent survey conducted for the men’s care brand Harry’s offers some insight into what masculinity means to some men in 2018.
Harry’s recent released their U.S. Masculinity Report where they surveyed 5,000 men across America “to uncover their core values, what impacts their mental health the most, and what gives them the greatest sense of wellbeing”. The survey and analysis were conducted in a partnership with Dr. John Barry, an Honorary Lecturer at the University College London and a co-founder of the Male Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society. Harry’s worked with Dr. Barry in 2017 for a study in the U.K. to understand guys on a deeper level. The U.S. Masculinity Report used a similar format “to explore how men in the U.S. think about themselves and their place in the world”.
The full survey results can be viewed online. Here are some of the more interesting highlights:
- Job Satisfaction: The report found that being satisfied at work is the top indicator of men’s wellbeing. This is seen by the fact that guys who reported being the most satisfied at work were 47.4 percent more likely to have a positive mindset overall than those who were the least satisfied at work. The study also found that workers feeling they had a significant impact on the company was the most important reason for job satisfaction. This result suggests the persistence of belief in the traditional role of men as the “provider” and “breadwinner”.
- Grooming & Self-Care: As one might expect from a study performed for a men’s care brand, the survey found that men care more about their outward appearance more than people usually think. They also suggest that concern about grooming can be linked to better mental health. Nine out of ten (90.5 percent) of survey respondents who rated their grooming routine as very important to their health had normal or better levels of mental positivity, as measured by the survey. This is significantly higher than the 61 percent of those who rated grooming as very unimportant.
- Being a Good Listener: Another way the study bucks expectations is by showing that guys consider being a good listener important. Three out of four (76 percent) of guys surveyed by Harry’s ranked “being a good listener” as an important or very important aspect of friendship.
- Honesty & Dependability: Another interesting result from the survey is that more American men valued being a good person over being physically strong. In some respects, this shouldn’t be too surprising, since honor has been considered an important component of masculinity throughout history. In this survey, 40 percent of the men surveyed thought being honest was important or very important, compared to 16 percent who thought being athletic was important or very important.
- Regional Differences: An important takeaway from Harry’s U.S. Masculinity Report is that men’s core values can vary based on region. As the stated in the report authors summarized, “In the West, friendship and community are key indicators of wellbeing, while in the Northeast men value loyalty more than guys in any other region. In the Midwest, being over age 50 is one of the strongest indicators of mental wellbeing, while in the South guys value sports and leisure (and being married!) more than any other region.”
While it’s important to take research that comes from commercial firms with a grain of salt, this information can be useful. Besides breaking some misconceptions about what many men consider to be masculinity, the study has some uses for business owners and marketers. Having a more clear understanding of your target audience can make it easier to craft more effective copy for ads and marketing materials. This is the reason Harry’s sponsors research like this.
“We founded Harry’s because we care about guys and want them to feel confident, inside and out. Our research with Dr. Barry is an important step in the right direction towards getting to the root of what’s driving confidence and positivity in men, while also challenging long-held and limiting stereotypes of masculinity,” said Andy Katz-Mayfield Co-founder and CEO of Harry’s, in a press release. “We’re encouraged by the data — it suggests that American guys are much more nuanced than they’re often made out to be.”
For more recent research about consumer behavior and trends, read this article on how consumers are redefining brand loyalty in a digital, worldwide marketplace.