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Dan Cohen, director of corporate advisory firm Zolfo Cooper
New research has revealed that British men are now spending just 10% less on fashion and accessories than women. According to a study by independent research company HPI, so-called “mansumers” are now spending £13bn a year on clothing. Not only that, but 70% of men said they actually enjoy the experience of shopping for clothes - the same percentage that like watching sport.
Confronted with figures like these, retailers that have traditionally focused on female customers alone need to start thinking about their male counterparts pretty quickly, unless they want to miss out on an important - and growing - opportunity. A survey by Mintel found that the UK menswear market has grown by 12% in the past five years and is now worth an estimated £10.4bn. More importantly, researchers believe it will maintain this growth and rise another 11% before 2017.
And Mintel isn’t the only researcher to study this growing trend. A survey published by Rakuten LinkShare has revealed that fashion now accounts for around 83% of young men’s online spend, and that a quarter of 26 to 35-year-old men now spend at least £900 per year on clothing online. As a result, a growing number of fashion brands are scrambling to tap into this market’s huge potential. US retailer J Crew, for example, has opened its first men’s-only store in London, and David Beckham is reportedly close to a deal with Hong Kong distributor Li & Fung to produce a range of men’s casualwear.
Luxury brand Prada is also pinning its hopes on the stylish men out there. The 101-year-old business is aiming to nearly double its menswear sales to £1.2bn over the next three to five years, and also plans to open more dedicated men’s shops. Even retailers that once focused entirely on women - including Whistles, H&M and River Island - are now expanding their menswear sections.
For retailers like these, male consumers represent an enormous opportunity. Gone are the days when menswear could simply be hidden away in the dark recesses of the lower ground floor, and outdated stereotypes about men who like to shop now seem woefully misplaced. The truth is that “real men” like shopping too - not least because women now expect them to smell and dress their best.
Perhaps that’s why The Hut Group spent £2.5m to buy male grooming and skincare etailer Mankind Direct, and why Ted Baker has opened a number of specialist “grooming rooms” just for men.
Forward-looking retailers have woken up to the steady evolution of men’s purchasing habits and are looking for new ways to capitalise on this trend. Of course, no one is saying testosterone alone will be the answer to UK retail’s current woes, but retailers who are able to combine high quality and good value with a little bit of fashion flair will stay one step ahead of the pack.