The Future of Masculinity
When did being a man become so complicated?
One of the world’s most recognizably masculine brands came to us because younger men were starting to feel like a new species. The basic tenets that made the brand a defining part of masculine culture seemed under threat.
After decades of social change spurred by a reawakened women’s movement, men are now navigating a post-upheaval world in which cultural revolution has been replaced by a quiet, personalized evolution.
We needed to understand this evolution’s impact on male consumer behavior. Only then could our client find the intersection between cultural momentum and the heritage of their brand—allowing them to remain a cultural leader—rather than a chaser.
New traditions, priorities and icons betray a masculine ideal in flux
In a sexually rebalanced world, new male norms are fast emerging: from frat guys un-ironically wearing pink, to men working for female bosses without thinking twice about it.
Many men want to trade suits for hoodies, expect their wives to have vibrant careers and view being an awesome dad as testament to their masculinity, joining women in aspiring to have it all.
Ruggedly handsome mainstays of masculinity have been muddied by a dizzying mixture of modern and international cultural north stars.
How do you decode cultural momentum?
We examined masculinity through three perspectives to capture a holistic picture of how men’s behaviors and mindsets are shifting in real time: shifting Market behavior, Popular Culture manifestations, and cutting-edge observations by Experts + Influencers.
Finding the melody amidst the noise
Diving deep into consumption data and comparing it to what is appearing on store shelves, it became clear that younger men have dramatically and unashamedly masculinized new categories, and responsive marketers have followed their lead—from male beauty to sexual and mental health.
Men are awash in traditional and new media that send contradictory signals about how to be a man, forcing many to define their masculinity on the fly, from navigating the tightrope of fast fashion to managing relationships in the age of Tinder.
Academics and influencers we interviewed shared the belief that younger men are defining their masculinity less by living up to a set of traditional rules and more by having the courage to define the rules for themselves.
How can a brand move from a cultural follower to a masculine leader?
We needed to translate these core insights about masculinity into concrete, digestible themes that our client’s organization could easily understand, internalize, and operationalize.
Translating insight into business-ready implications
A Futurescape builds a landscape of the motivations, behaviors and desires of tomorrow’s consumers that allows our clients to “inhabit” the coming market they wish to shape and lead. We dimensionalized tomorrow’s men in terms of their inner health and outer appearance, and their fast evolving roles and identity in terms of community, fun, work, dating and ultimately family.
We then translated these insights into concrete marketing implications. Together, we rolled up our sleeves (and pantlegs) to answer questions including: