There is an old philosophical conundrum. If a man says something, and there is no woman around to hear it, is he still wrong? There is a school of thought that ever since we gave up hunter-gathering and switched to a settled lifestyle, men’s natural strengths have no longer been at a premium and that since the advent of modern technology men have actually been almost surplus to requirements. The phrase ‘Men Are Useless’ sums up this point of view quite neatly.
Most possessors of a y chromosome have developed some kind of defensive strategy to cope with female denigration of their gender. Personally I adopt a knowing smile implying that I am simply too mellow to be perturbed by that kind of thing. At the same time I think hard about things like loft insulation and changing flat tyres. You don’t hear much feminist theorising when there is a spider to be got out of the bathroom do you?
But a new website is attempting to turn the Men Are Useless slogan into a brand name for a new approach to buying male grooming products. The proposition is that men are too useless to go shopping. In any case they have better ways of using their free time. So simply bung a website tenner every month and they will send you a box of carefully selected products.
The male toiletries market is an incredibly tough one to crack. Basically blokes just aren’t that interested and will happily use whatever is available if anything. A couple of companies have succeeded in making an impression on their apathetic target. King of Shaves and Bulldog have both come up with straight forward well priced and effective offerings that have succeeded in actually being noticed. They even seem to be commercially successful. Another thing they have in common is that they both use humour very effectively in their promotion. Bulldog employ Dave Mitchell to rant amusingly on their behalf. King of Shaves recently ran a kitsch cod Agent Provocateur video to promote a razor.
Men Are Useless also run a very humorous website. I like self deprecating humour, even though I am not very good at it. And I think most men are happy to share a joke about their lack of knowledge of skin care and other girly stuff like that. So I can see the appeal of a website that offers to solve the problem without you having to find out where the men’s products are kept in the supermarket. (Hint, they are usually by the razor blades.)
So will this initiative be a success? They have got some good partners, including King of Shaves. The boxes currently on offer don’t match up with what I personally would choose. I don’t think that is something you can really get right to begin with anyway. I am sure they will adapt the offering as they get feedback. I think they might do well to include a surprise item or persuade companies to throw in trial samples. (I expect that this has already occurred to them.)
I really like the idea, and I think I would like get a box in the post every month with some of my favourite stuff. I won’t actually be subscribing myself, given my job I have all the product I would ever want. But it does sound like a great present for a male relative.
They have got off to a good start, attracting attention in a sector of the market where attention is at a premium. But I have to be realistic. I think they are in for a long haul. The website is very good, but it has to be. Their marketing seems to be hitting the spot with the grooming bloggers. But again, they simply have to. If they can’t win over people who are interested they stand no chance. They need to take to heart something Will King was quoted as saying. The biggest competitor is apathy. With only an online presence they have to work and work and work to come up with ways of getting their offering to the people they are aiming for.
If they succeed I will be impressed. They will have cracked a tough one. But please do have a look at their site. It should bring a smile to your face if you are a man, or if you know a man.