The Male Body Hidden Behind The Female Body Cultural Studies Essay




The male body, hidden behind the female body for ages, is now making its own way in the mass media. Nowadays, men are taking more and more care about their body because they are more health-conscious and, above all, they are aware of the need to fit in the world’s societal requirements. Those requirements are to look younger than you are, to look fitter than you are, and to look more beautiful than you are. We may find it incredible, but they are now well fixed in our society’s principles. Because men are now more aware of the issues of our society, they are moving from hygienism to body aesthetics.

However, all around the world, men are not evolving at the same rate. As a matter of fact, even between countries with cultures that seem very closed such as France and England, men’s behaviour, regarding grooming, is significantly different. For instance, in the United Kingdom, male’s evolution appeared earlier than in France because of the female’s situation in the country. Indeed, historical facts about women’s position in society, such as the right to vote for women (1918 in United Kingdom and 1944 in France), show the difference between the two countries. Another important fact that leads to this difference is the presence of a woman on the British throne and also personalities such as Margaret Thatcher who was the Prime Minister for 10 years in England.

Following this trend, the men’s toiletries market has been significantly influenced by these lifestyle factors and consequently, has changed a lot (Key Note, 2012). Indeed, the toiletries industry has previously focused only towards women; they are now tending to balance their offer between men and women. However, companies in this market need to adapt their strategy to fit as much as possible with the culture they want to enter and to fit with the step of evolution of men living in this country.

Therefore, the purpose of this research project will be to understand the marketing and communication strategies used by the toiletries and fragrances’ companies in order to attract men and to fit as much as possible with their purchasing behavioural evolution.

This document will focus on two main research questions, which are:

Why has men’s behaviour evolved regarding toiletries during the last 15 years?

How can men’s toiletries brands adapt their international strategy according to men’s personality and masculinity evolution in different cultures?

This business research project report will cover the following main objectives:

Identify the main theories about cultures and masculinity

Analyse men’s personality evolution

Map the key theories and concepts of marketing and communication and analyse how they are used by men’s toiletries brands

Understand men’s toiletries consumers’ purchasing behaviour

This document will mainly concern the men’s toiletries market well defined by Key Note (2012):

Men’s toiletries market includes:

Bathroom toiletries (including soaps, bath additives and shower gels)

Deodorants and body sprays

Hair-care products (including shampoos, conditioners and hair-styling products, such as mousses, wax and gels)

Shaving preparations (including shaving foams and gels)

Facial skincare products.


The literature review of this business research project report maps the main theories about marketing and communication strategies, it also identifies the key concepts about cultures and then, it explores theories about men’s purchasing behaviour. All of that has conducted the author to explore the issues of this topic with a new outlook that has not been achieved yet in the literature.

The following two figures show the diagrammatic theoretical framework from the first draft to the final version. This has evolved during the research because of both of the lack of information in some areas and the evolution of the author’s reflection concerning the issues of this topic.

Big Five Model

(Costa & McCrae, 1992)

Hofstede’s cultural 5 dimensions (1997)


Theory of Reasoned Action (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1975)

Promotion Mix (Armstrong & Kotler, 2012)

Integrated Marketing Communications (Kliatchko, 2008)

Organizational Design (Jeannet & Hennessey, 1994, see Carter, 2003)

Men’s purchasing behaviour evolution

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1970)

Purchasing of men’s toiletries

Toiletries brands’ marketing & communication strategies

Figure 1: Diagrammatic theoretical framework – First Draft

Masculinities and Cultures (Beynon, 2002)

Hofstede’s cultural 5 dimensions (1997)


Appearance skills and Personal Branding

(Crawford, 1992, Sampson, 1995)

Promotion Mix (Armstrong & Kotler, 2012)

Integrated Marketing Communications (Kliatchko, 2008)

Organizational Design (Jeannet & Hennessey, 1994, see Carter, 2003)

Theory of Reasoned Action

(Ajzen & Fishbein, 1975)

Men’s appearance and personal branding

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1970)

Toiletries brands’ marketing & communication strategies

Purchasing of men’s toiletries

Figure 2: Diagrammatic theoretical framework – Final version

As shown in figure 2, all of the author’s researches have initiated from one important point: masculinity. That is an essential point of analysis when we talk about men’s toiletries. Beynon (2002) has really well defined how masculinity is culturally constructed and that is shown in the following illustration.

Figure 3: Key factors that shape masculinity

(Beynon, 2002: 10)

As demonstrated in figure 3, Beynon (2002) has identified ten factors that shape masculinity. During the author’s researches, it has been decided decided to focus on five of them, which are: culture and subculture, class occupation, education, religion and beliefs, and geography. Indeed, this model shows the factors that shape masculinity and that is applicable to each man in the world. Therefore, from this model it has allowed the author, for the cultural analysis part of the research, to segment men in the world more easily through his country. That is the cultural group used for the first part of this research.

We now guess, from the figure 3, that cultures are very linked to masculinity. Indeed, "if maleness is biological, then masculinity is cultural. Masculinity can never float free of culture: on the contrary, it is the child of culture, shaped and expressed differently at different times in different circumstances in different places by individuals and groups" (Berger et al., 1995, see Beynon, 2002: 2). Moreover, Beynon (2002: 2) added that "men are not born with masculinity as part of their genetic make-up; rather it is something into which they are acculturated and which is composed of social codes of behaviour which they learn to reproduce in culturally appropriate ways". That’s why the author has taken into consideration the cultural factor and is now going to add a further depth of analysis to this topic.

Concerning the "education" and "class occupation" factors, in order to use them at a country level – as previously explained, the author has searched for the level of human development of the countries targeted in this research. There are currently three main classification systems that deal with the level of human development of countries, which are the United Nations Development Program’s Country Classification System (UNDP), the World Bank’s Country Classification System and the IMF’s Country Classification System. The author has chosen to focus on the UNDP because this classification system is built around the Human Development Index (HDI), which is a composite index of three indices measuring countries’ achievements in longevity, education, and income (Nielsen, 2011).

Moreover, as highlighted by Beynon (2002), religion and beliefs have also an influence on masculinity and on men’s personalities and behaviours. Personally, the author believes that whatever the religion you look at, they all put a brake on men’s evolution and on modernity. That’s why the author has set the hypothesis for this research.

As shown in figures 2 and 3, this report will be based on the roots of men’s masculinity and behaviour: the culture. "Culture is learned, shared, compelling, interrelated set of symbols whose meaning provides a set of orientations for members of society. These orientations, taken together, provide solutions to problems that all societies must solve if they are to remain viable" (Terpstra & David, 1985: 5). Hofstede (1997) investigated about cultures and organizations and implemented a theory about the "MIS factor". That is absolutely essential to understand this theory so as to understand different cultures. Indeed, when one looks at people from different cultures, one has perceptions about their behaviour. According to our culture, those perceptions can quickly become negative. However, it’s important to know that cultures are made by values and behaviours, that’s why it’s essential to try to understand the values hidden behind those behaviours. If we don’t follow this system, we could be faced with what is called "MIS perception" and that could make for a "MIS interpretation", a "MIS evaluation" and to finish that could lead you to a "MIS trust" about a culture (Hofstede, 1997).

There are several types of cultural groups (age, gender, physical ability, socio-economic class, sexual orientation, politic orientation, etc.) but in the author’s researches, he was only focused on the nationality because that is more relevant to answer at the initial question of this research project.

Hofstede (1997) identified five dimensions of intercultural management:

Power distance

Long-term orientation



Uncertainty avoidance

This report covers three dimensions in order to understand the roots of the differences between men’s behaviours according to their culture. Those three dimensions are: Power distance, Individualism and obviously Masculinity.

The author has chosen to deal with those three dimensions because they are absolutely relevant to understand men’s behaviour, and more precisely, men’s behaviour towards men’s toiletries. Indeed, according to Hofstede (2013, online), Power distance is the dimension that "deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally". This definition supports the following hypothesis, which says that combined with other important factors, the lower the level of power distance in a country is, the more likely men living in that country are to buy and use toiletries. Indeed, in cultures where the level of power distance is low, people who have less power still feel closed to people who have the power and they accept not to have it. Therefore, they think they can become more powerful so they tend to use means such as toiletries to improve their personal branding, and that is what is going to be explored in future developments in this paper. At the end of this research, the results and some examples will be presented and then, we will see if this hypothesis is confirmed or infirmed.

The second dimension the author has chosen to deal with in this research is Individualism. As defined by Hofstede (2013: online), "the fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people’s self-image is defined in terms of "I" or "We". In individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that take care of them in exchange for loyalty". This definition supports the following hypothesis, which says that combined with other important factors, the more individualist a country is, the more likely men living in that country are to buy and use toiletries. Indeed, as explained by Hofstede (2013), in individualist societies, men are supposed to look after themselves, to give importance to their self-image, that’s why they may tend to use toiletries.

The final dimension taken into consideration in this research is obviously Masculinity. According to Hofstede (2013: online), "a high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the ‘winner’ or ‘best-in-the-field’. This value system starts in school and continues throughout one’s life – both in work and leisure pursuits. A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine)". This definition supports the following hypothesis, which says that combined with other important factors, the more masculine a country is, the more likely men living in that country are to buy and use toiletries. Indeed, driven by competition, men may tend to use toiletries as a mean to have a competitive advantage on their competitors by improving their self-image.

After investigating how culture can influence men’s behaviour, the author first wanted to focus on the evolution of men’s purchasing behaviour with the Five Factors Model (FFM), also called the Big Five Model (Costa & McCrae 1992). This empirical model should have helped us to understand how we can perceive men’s personality by 5 traits, which are: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. However, as you can see it in the evolution between figures 1 and 2, the author wasn’t able to explore deeper the evolution of this empirical model because of the lack of secondary data. That’s why he has decided to focus on the reasons of men’s personality evolution and more precisely on the appearance skills and personal branding.

A lot of literature concerning personal branding and appearance skills can be found. However, the best definition of personal branding seems to have been given by Rasmussen (see Quick, 2011: online) who explained "personal branding is how we define ourselves in the work space while at the same time, incorporating the personal elements that make us who we are". Moreover, according to Schawbel (2009: online), "many people think that personal branding is just for celebrities such as Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, yet each and every one of us is a brand. Personal branding, by definition is the process by which we market ourselves to others. As a brand, we can leverage the same strategies that make these celebrities or corporate brands appeal to others. We can build brand equity just like them". Indeed, there are a lot of people who still think that personal branding only concerns celebrities but, nowadays we all want to be different and to have our own personality, and personal branding is one of the best ways to improve our personal business skills and differentiate them from other people’s personal business skills.

The appearance takes an important place in our personal style. If we look at the literature, almost everybody agrees with this way of thinking. However, when we look deeper in the place given to the appearance in our personal style by different authors, we can find some divergences. Indeed, as represented in the following figure, Sampson (1995: 28) argued that appearance is only one of the five elements that are linked to create our personal style.

Figure 4: The linked elements of Personal Style

(Sampson 1995: 28)

On the other hand, Crawford (1992: 18) gave more importance to the appearance of personal style by defining the appearance as "our personal style, our ‘presence’, which is unique and yet is judged in seconds by stereotypes, cultural norms and personal preconceived ideas". She also added that "personal ‘style’ and ‘presence’ are key factors in achieving a balanced and confident attitude to yourself, to life and to success – your own success, in whatever terms: emotionally, financially, or physically. Personal style is what we, as individuals, show to others through our appearance – clothes, hair, accessories, grooming and body posture. Most recent researches indicate that, during a typical first encounter, the majority of impressions are formed visually rather than verbally". Indeed, that’s well illustrated by the famous sentence first used by Head & Shoulders for a shampoo advertisement in the 1990s: "We never get a second chance to make a first impression".

To finish with appearance and personal style, Crawford (1992) worked on the effects of appearance and personal presence in our lives and she established that "the individual with an effective ‘presence’ holds a great deal of respect and response from others". This is represented by a positive circle of effects, which is shown on the following figure.

Figure 5: A Positive Code of Effects

(Crawford 1992: 20)

Furthermore, in order to link men’s personal style with the behaviour of purchasing toiletries, this report will explore the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA theory), developed by Ajzen and Fishbein (1975). This theory explains the links between attitudes toward behaviours, subjective norms and behavioural intention and then the behaviour itself. That is perfectly summarized in figure 6.

Figure 6: Schematics of the theory of reasoned action (TRA) (Royer 2008: online)

The attitudes towards an act or behaviour reflect the actual way of thinking of a person regarding this act or behaviour. On the other side, the subjective norms represent what people think about this behaviour, precisely people who are important for the person who want to have this behaviour. The attitudes of the concerned person regarding this behaviour are complementary to the subjective norms in order to implement the behavioural intention. Finally, the sum of all will lead to the specific behaviour.

During this business research project report, the Theory of Reasoned Action has been explored in order to find a link between men’s personal style and the behaviour of purchasing toiletries by men and for men. That will help us to understand why men are now buying more and more toiletries and how they make the purchasing decision.

Barry and Nuntasaree (2009) explored this theory in a journal article in which they talk about the relationship between the Theory of Reasoned Action and the "male consumer behaviour in buying skin care products in Thailand". In this journal article, they enter very deeply into a discussion about the TRA theory by exploring several hypotheses in order to understand better, the act of purchasing skin care products by men in Thailand. This research has been absolutely useful for this business research project report. However, in their journal article, Barry and Nuntasaree (2009) totally forgot the influence of brand’s marketing and communication strategies on men’s purchasing behaviour regarding skin care products. Moreover, they only focused on Thailand, a country that is not a priority for men’s skin care brands. That’s why this report will cover those missing fields in order to be more impactful in the findings.

Therefore, in parallel of studying men’s purchasing behaviour, this report will focus on the international marketing and communication strategies used by men’s toiletries brands.

International marketing and communication strategies can be a very huge topic. That’s why this report only focused on the strategies that are related to the ones currently used by men’s toiletries and fragrances brands and also the ones that can be useful for the global comprehension of the report.

First of all, the author dealt with the Marketing Mix, which is, according to Armstrong and Kotler (2012: 75), "the set of tactical marketing tools – product, price, place, and promotion – that the firm blends to produce the response it wants in the target market". The Marketing Mix is so divided in four different parts: product, price, place and promotion, which are going to be explored in this research.

This report explores how the main men’s toiletries brands use this Marketing Mix in their marketing and communication strategy in order to communicate customer value and build customer relationships.

In a second phase, the author has concentrated his researches on Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), which is a strategy based on the fact that the communication of a brand has to remind the same experience to the customer whatever the way of communication used. According to the work of Madhavaram et al. (2005, see Kliatchko, 2008: 133), "IMC has evolved from a limited view of coordinating communication tools to a strategic process". Schultz D. and Schultz H. (2003, see Kliatchko, 2008) have implemented four evolutionary stages of IMC (see figure 7), which are: tactical coordination, redefining scope of marketing communication, application of information technology and financial and strategic integration.

Stage 3: Application of information technology

Stage 4: Financial and strategic integration

Stage 1: Tactical coordination

Stage 2: Redefining scope of marketing communication

Figure 7: The four evolutionary stages of IMC

(adapted from: Kliatchko, 2008: 153)

In his work, Olof Holm (2006) also deals with Integrated Marketing Communications and has some similar points with Jerry Kliatchko’s work (2008). However, Holm tries to understand why a lot of companies and brands are not able to achieve all four of the stages shown in figure 7 and why a majority of firms are anchored in the first stages and very few have moved to a strategic level. That will also be explored in this report in order to understand why some men’s toiletries brands don’t achieve to implement all the four stages of IMC, and to identify the obstacles they are faced to.

Finally, the author’s research also focused on the factors that affect organizational design in global marketing. That is absolutely essential to understand the link between IMC, Marketing Mix and the need to adapt the offer to the likelihood of men population to buy and use toiletries in a targeted country.

We can easily visualize this link in figure 8, which is the representation of the factors affecting organizational design of a company by Jeannet & Hennessey (see Carter 2003: 84).

Figure 8: Factors affecting organizational design

(Jeannet & Hennessey 1994, see Carter 2003: 84)


In this business research report, the author has used a mix of scientific and ethnographic approaches to conduct his researches. On the one hand, according to Maylor and Blackmon (2005: 143), "the scientific approach is derived from a particular way of doing research known as the scientific method, a generally accepted set of procedures for developing and testing theories. It is and idealised model to arrive at what scientists consider to be truth. The key ideas of this model are objective observation and measurement and careful and accurate analysis of data". On the other hand, Maylor and Blackmon (2005: 146) defined the ethnographic approach as the willing "to uncover meaning in a specific situation by studying it intensively. […] Wherever possible, ethnographers study issues of interest in their ‘natural settings’, by involving themselves in the workplace or […] in the lives of the group of people they researched". The author has decided to use a mix of the two approaches in order to measure my results but also to find a meaning of those results.

This research is composed by both primary and secondary data. Primary data are only composed by positivistic paradigms as the author has used a survey in order to collect information that he could not find in secondary data. According to Collis and Hussey (2003), "the positivistic approach seeks the fact or causes of social phenomena, with little regard to the subjective state of the individual" but there are also some limits to the positivistic paradigm such as treating "people as being separate from their social contexts and they cannot be understood without examining the perceptions they have of their own activities".

On the contrary, the secondary data of this research are composed by both of positivistic paradigms and phenomenological paradigms. Concerning the positivistic paradigms, the author has used a lot of measurable data from online databases in order to create a formula that allows ranking countries according to their male population’s likeliness to buy and use toiletries. Indeed, "if you can measure it, you can understand it" (Maylor & Blackmon 2005: 141). Then, concerning the phenomenological paradigms, Collis and Hussey (2003) explained that they are "concerned with understanding human behaviour from the participant’s own frame of reference". In this research project, phenomenological paradigms are represented by all the researches of secondary data in order to understand why men’s behaviour has evolved regarding toiletries during the last 15 years.

As it is explained in the literature review, the author should have used secondary data to show the evolution of men’s purchasing behaviour with the Five Factors Model (FFM), also called the Big Five Model (Costa & McCrae 1992). However, because of the lack of researches available about this theory, the author was not able to find neither qualitative nor quantitative data from secondary data. That’s why he decided to focus on the reasons of men’s personality evolution and more precisely on the appearance skills, personal style and personal branding, with the conduct of an online survey on his personal website (Combes, 2013) in order to collect quantitative data and to analyse it with Microsoft Excel.

The limits of this research were to collect primary qualitative data from the main men’s toiletries brands. Indeed, the author has contacted several brands such as, Dove, Vichy, Nivea, L’Oréal, and Nuxe, and according to the ones that have answered him, they didn’t have the time for an interview. That’s why he has used his second option, which was to search these data in books, online, or in journal articles. However, with this option, the author was forced to focus only on the most famous brands, as there was not a lot of information about the others.


As the author stated it before, appearance skills and personal style are now taking more and more importance in people’s mind and that influences men’s opinion about toiletries. Indeed, according to his researches, he has identified two dimensions of men’s behaviour regarding toiletries. The first one is "the use of toiletries for yourself versus the use of toiletries for others", and the second one is "the intensity of the experience of using toiletries".

Within the first dimension, four types of relation between men, self-care and beauty, can be identified.

- The first relation is a very personal matter; we could say that self-care and beauty only concern ‘the man and himself’. He wants to feel good and to be in harmony with himself, or simply to take care of himself. This man takes care of his appearance because it’s important for him.

- On the contrary, the second relation explains that the man sees self-care and beauty as a way to please other people. Men in this group seek values such as beauty, health and youth in order to be like others or to follow standards implemented by others. For instance, these men do not take care of them when they are alone at home but they give a lot of importance to their appearance when they go out.

- Then, the third relation concerns men who are in denial with the relation to others: they want to assert themselves by their different appearance, or particular style. These men deny the standards of beauty by adopting a rebellious and avant-gardist style.

- Finally, the last relation represents men who are in denial with the relation to themselves, they are in denial with their physical appearance in order to be accepted by the others. Their appearance is no more personal; these men are totally influenced by a community or a group of friends.

The second dimension, which is "the intensity of the experience of using toiletries", is represented by the frequency of use (high or low) and the implication given in the use of toiletries. We can identify two approaches in this dimension, the "rationalistic" experience, represented by a low implication and a low frequency of use, and the "emotional" experience, which is represented by a high implication and a high frequency of use.

The following figure shows clearly the eight possible positions of men regarding toiletries.

Relation to self-care and beauty allows positioning oneself in group standards. The most important thing is your appearance.






Relation to self-care and beauty is a personal matter. The most important thing is the harmony body/spirit, but also to feel good about yourself.

Personal harmony
















Go with the flow





Relation to self-care and beauty is to create a specific image, distinct from standards. The most important thing is the difference in the appearance, which help to assert yourself.


Relation to self-care and beauty is to create a specific image, distinct from standards. The most important thing is the difference in the appearance, which help to assert yourself.






Figure 9: Relations between men and toiletries

In the four relations presented above, the most represented in the world is the relation to others. Indeed, our society has implemented standards about self-care and beauty that are now anchored in people’s mind. For instance, if you notice the beauty of a man, you will more easily and spontaneously talk to him. In order to have measurable data to support this argument, the author has created and launched an online survey on his personal website (Combes, 2013), which is still available.

In this survey, the author has shown four faces of men and respondents had to rank those men according to each of the four sentences presented. The first sentence was: "Please look at the above pictures of men's faces and rank them according to their attractiveness (1 for the most attractive, 4 for the less attractive)". The second sentence was: "Rank them according to their self-confidence (1 for the most confident man, 4 for the less confident)". Then the third sentence was: "Rank them according to their reliability (1 for the most reliable man, 4 for the less reliable)". Finally, the last sentence was: "rank them according to their beauty (1 for the most beautiful man, 4 for the less beautiful)".

Sixty-eight respondents answered at this survey and the results are very clear. Indeed, when respondents ranked a man as the most beautiful, 88% of them also ranked him as the first or the second most reliable. Moreover, when respondents ranked a man as the most beautiful, 85% of them also ranked him as the first or second most self-confident. To finish, when respondents ranked a man as the most beautiful, 91% of them ranked him as the most attractive.

The results of this survey demonstrate clearly the influence of your appearance on how other people perceive your personality and on your social and professional life. Contrary to what Sampson (1995: 28) said, the appearance has much more importance than your communication skills in how your personality is perceived. Indeed, there are a lot of people who perceive your personality every day without hearing any word from your mouth, and, paradoxically, they may never speak to you because of your appearance! That’s why the appearance is the beginning of the creation of your personal style and your personal branding. Your appearance is the packaging of the product you are: it must make people want to open it and discover what is hidden inside.