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The Globe and Mail

The challenge of marketing 'men's beauty'

Companies of all sizes have stepped into 'men's beauty' territory.

Mainstream powerhouses such as Procter & Gamble (Head & Shoulders, Gillette) and Unilever (Dove, Vaseline), as well as a number of smaller firms, are racing to satisfy a metrosexual itch.

The efforts can yield attractive rewards, but the road can be bumpy: Men tend to be lazy consumers who aren't easily swayed to try new products. Yet once hooked, they're more loyal than women because they can't be bothered to switch.

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The key for marketers is to borrow sparingly from the female beauty playbook. Keep it simple, using masculine images and terms -- a shaving-pump container instead of a jar; dark blue packaging instead of pale blue. Don't intimidate men with too many offerings or explanations, but spell out the ultimate benefit.

Brian Lau is the founder of Bread & Butter Skincare, which created a kit designed with men in mind. According to the company's website, "the products in the kit have unique formulas that are absent of irritating ingredients such as fragrance and grain alcohols."

Mr. Lau started his career as a consultant, where he got his introduction to luxury goods while working for a client that designed stores for retailers such as Saks and Bath and Body Works. After two years, he moved to Unilever, where at one point he was a marketer in New York for the global operations of the Dove brand. Mr. Lau has also been general manager of a custom product designer and manufacturer for brands such as Aveda, Burt's Bees, and John Paul Mitchell. The idea for Bread & Butter evolved over these years, he says, and it was launched in 2009.

Mr. Lau joined us for a live discussion about the challenge of marketing and selling men's beauty products. (Just don't call them that.) View an archived version below.

<iframe src="" scrolling="no" height="650px" width="600px" frameBorder ="0" allowTransparency="true" ><a href="" >Men's beauty</a></iframe>

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