Hipsters and bald crotches are dead: What brands need to know in 2014

By Brendan Coyne | 29 January 2014

The beard is dead, along with hipsters, skanky Converse and faux backwoodsmen. Meanwhile the bush is back. Read our lips: lots more bush. Rejoice Schick and Gillette, the Future Laboratory has spoken.

While Procter & Gamble last week said the beard trend and mo' growing has hit sales of Gillette in the last six months, brand marketers can breathe easy. It's over.

Bad news for budding beard analysts, though, “the hipster thing may be about to pass … People are shaving their beards off”. In a direct reversal, that 20 year itch – the drive to pubic tonsure – may also be coming to a sticky end. Bush is back.

That’s the view of Martin Raymond, editor-in-chief of The Future Laboratory. It’s good news for razor blade manufacturers, and possibly for tattoo removal parlours. But it’s bad news for Veet – and leaves those catching up with the last few years scratching their chins.

Raymond has form. AdNews owes him $300 after foolishly betting against the resurgence of VB this time last year. In 2013 the brand grew about 5% and reclaimed top spot while the Australian beer market slumped to a 66 year low.

Raymond will collect next month after giving both the Sydney and Melbourne market some food for thought about Re-Con Man and Athena Women at the Future Laboratory Trend Briefings.

This year, he said, people will “grow out of hipster”, so lumen levels across adland offices may rise as previously all-eclipsing facial thickets kiss the blade. “The golden age of hipsters” has arrived, he proclaims.

Apart from a shift in product development dollars and marketing strategy for personal grooming companies, what does that mean for adland? Raymond said it’s all about men and women moving beyond political correctness and fear of offending into a bullshit-free redefinition of traditional roles. That is, “not a battle of the sexes but [moving on from the old debate] towards a different kind of treaty being drawn up”.

That means products that do what they say on the tin. “Men are reclaiming masculinity and women are doing the same thing. In the US there are a whole bunch of products – including ‘One Wipe Charlies’, or basically arsewipes – that are all about straightforward stuff. We are also seeing a lot of ‘alpha snacks’, protein bars, with slightly tongue-in-cheek packaging doing well.”

Raymond calls half of that trend ‘manventurism’, and says the Three Musketeers meets Bear Grylls is not far off the mark. Ads he’s seeing in the US and the UK are about personal journeys and a “more poetic version of masculinity as opposed to the warrior”.

For women, Raymond reckons sweat will be as big as the return of the bush in 2014. He said it will be the year of “bush-lash, where women [and guys] will let it grow again”. He thinks the fact that The Wolf of Wall Street, this month’s longest, if not hottest film, has a scene dedicated to the theme is prescient, although he stresses that he’s talking about “a nature strip rather than the outback”.

That means beauty and grooming brands need to cut their cloth accordingly. “Beauty brands have been caught on the hop because people are hitting back. Feminism is now a good word. There’s a new confidence about it.”

Ultimately, what marketers need to grasp by the short and curlies this year is that there is a “redefinition of maleness and femaleness that is lacking the anger and angle [of yesteryear],” said Raymond. While it might “anger traditional, old-school feminists and be misread by the Abbotts of this world”, 2014 could be lucrative for brands that read the wind of change and harness it before the rest of the weathervanes turn.

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