WHO IS THE LUMBERSEXUAL?
The lumbersexual has been a long time in the making. His predecessor, the retrosexual, was also the antithesis of the pristinely appointed metrosexual. Retrosexuals by definition are fascinated by all things traditional and timeless, including the classic barber experience, the wet shave. Think of Humphrey Bogart, a tailored, well-groomed man who spends time on looking good. The retro-on-steroids lumbersexual term first appeared in 2008 in an entry in Urban Dictionary.
Yet it was not until October of 2014, that the esthetic coalesced in an article titled, “The Rise of the Lumbersexual,” in lifestyle blog GearJunkie. The article published photos of celebrities and models sporting the new outdoor look—attractive, rugged men with beards, denim, flannel and leather boots, carrying their favorite Apple device. The term began to spread like wildfire in an attempt to understand this new iteration of man.
Casual, yet sophisticated; uninterested in glitz and glam, yet can be seen sporting the latest technology; appears unkempt, yet takes time to achieve the look.
From scruff to full beard. Ranges from neatly trimmed to au naturel.
Wardrobe stereotypically includes flannel. Prefers quality over label. Is able to sport a casual, yet put together outdoors look.
Professional who appreciates quality, simplicity and the story, the meaning behind the brand— craft beers, mom and pop American made, organic and cottage-farmed food.
Idolizes the classic and refined. Loves nostalgia, and respects and emulates role models of the past.
Neatly groomed. Facial hair, if any, is calculated.
Form fit and/or vintage fashion. Classic labels. A look that has evolved into the hipster style of today.
Young urban professional, well-appointed but definitively NOT metrosexual. Distinct appreciation for nostalgia and the past.
Equates labels and appearance with status. Is secure in his masculinity and undaunted by being mistaken as gay. In fact, he may take it as a compliment.
Little facial hair, clean, professional, well-groomed appearance.
The hottest new trends and/or designer labels. Ultimate coordination of color and texture. Individualized and precision-honed ensembles.
Is often out and about, enjoys being seen. Successful, hard working and hard playing. Calculated aficionado of the finer things in life with the intent to boost status and/or professional image.
Indeed, the lumbersexual defies one-size-fits-all definitions. Did he emerge because work life has evolved to the point where men have few opportunities to demonstrate virility, a backlash against the blurring of gender roles? Is his look an expression of environmentalism and desire to preserve what is important in the world around him? Is he a reflection of a desire to live a more casual, thoughtful and less capitalistic lifestyle? Regardless of his motivations, from a global perspective both he and the trend have distinct implications for spa.
SPA IMPLICATIONS AND STRATEGIES
Few estheticians and service providers feel comfortable working with a man’s facial hair, and are unsure of what to do with the skin below.
Conduct the facial treatment and apply product as you would with any gentleman having no facial hair, including cleansers, exfoliants, masks, serums and moisturizers.
Avoid clay-based products and physical exfoliants. They are difficult to remove. Chemical exfoliants are extremely beneficial for the skin under the beard, as are all products.
When cleansing, make note of the direction of the beard growth. Always massage in the direction of growth to avoid irritation. This will sometimes be counterintuitive, as certain beard areas grow downward.
Two thumbs up for including barber services in accessible urban spas. Two thumbs down for resort spas where men want to relax. In resort settings, barber services may work episodically with groom’s packages, or there may be a substantial residence population or member base interested in the service.
NATURAL / ORGANIC PRODUCTS
Lumbers are interested in the outdoors, health, fitness and clean food sources in and on their bodies.
Get into juicing, especially greens and roots.
Choose natural products. Green chemistry is here to stay, and cheaper synthetic alternatives will soon be a thing of the past.
Emphasize the story behind farm-to-table food items.
Market “green chemistry” and results in your menu’s treatment descriptions.
Despite first impressions, lumbersexuals spend a good deal of time curating the perfect lumberjack look.
Consider beard maintenance and shaving products.
Trimmers and male grooming appliances are on the rise.
Provide a selection of male-centric products in masculine packaging, not just 5-7 SKUs from a women’s line. Make it worth his while to shop.
Man up your manis and pedis, services which provide a spa orientation and access point to other departments.
PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Lumbers demand meaning and substance in the products and services they choose. Intention behind the design of the physical spa, spa management, treatment design and product selection is crucial.
Treatment and menu descriptions must be substantive. Hype and rituals for the sake of rituals will turn him off.
Call out socially responsible and ethically sourced products. Tell the story.
Emphasize made in America, mom and pop brands with meaning.
The men’s movement has arrived—man’s search for meaning. Blurred gender roles, stay at home dads and shattered glass ceilings have called into question the very definition of what it means to be a man. Retail has segmented marketing and sales to men for years. Spas are decades behind.
Segment, segment, segment!
Curate a retail section that draws him in. He now stands outside the door, afraid to cross the threshold. Consider imagery choices on web sites, social media and point of sale. Where’s the man?
The spa is historically feminine and firmly rooted in a female image. Capturing the attention of men requires a rethinking of the paradigm. It’s time to create a new male inclusive spa culture and experience.
Develop a print and digital men’s menu using male language. Get rid of the word “facial.”
Train staff to sell men’s esthetics services. Emphasize the massage elements of the treatment. The conversation with men versus women is as different as night and day.
In the spa, we are great at the quick fix—superficial, non-committal change. If revenue growth is an objective, it makes sense to get serious about men.
Capturing the attention of men requires a complete paradigm shift—a total operational rethinking of how we market and deliver spa products and services to men, whether lumber, retro, metro or other. That means total team transformation—from locker room attendant to reception to treatment professional, spa management and ultimately spa ownership. This sale is tough when men represent only eight percent of the global cosmetics industry, and on average 30 percent of spa business.
Would you rather spend your time and energy continuing to compete for the attention of the 92 percent of the global cosmetics industry who already know spa, or go after the market that all data confirms has the greatest potential for spa revenue growth in history? I know where I’m placing my bet!