Masculinity, and what it means to ‘be a man’ is undergoing a revolution in today’s world, and brands, including my new fragrance launch, play an important role culturally in portraying this shift.
Men are seeking out brands that speak to how they live, to the values they hold. There has been a transition from traditional masculine cues of power, dominance and status towards more ‘evolved’ traits of diversity, approachability and sensitivity. We are living in an era where female empowerment is at the forefront of cultural conversation and men are playing a supportive role, showing masculine strength as listeners, showing empathy, and through being comfortable enough to care.
Brands are echoing back this shift in the visuals and language they feed into the cultural ecosystem. And men are opening up to engage, to trying new things, to try things that give them a sense of identity through this change.
After the Shaving category, Fragrance is the next most popular when it comes to men buying and using a grooming/beauty product. As a highly emotional category, it has been dominated by traditional cues of masculinity for a long time. As the Brand Director for Fragrance at Avon, I’m in a fortunate position then to be part of the evolution of how this beauty category is evolving in today’s world.
When I first started my current role at Avon in 2017, I encountered a plethora of legacy male brands rooted in very traditional masculine cues.
Some of these brands remain in my portfolio, they continue to have a loyal following, and relevance with some men today. However, culture has evolved and so too have Fragrance brands. We needed to refresh and contemporize our portfolio with a new brand that embodies the new masculine codes of today.
Introducing True Gent…
True Gent is a modern expression of man today. A man who is strong enough to show his heart, a man that is warm, caring, and comfortable in his own skin; a man that is supportive, a cheerleader, a rock. Our mission at Avon is to celebrate the power of women to make a positive impact in today’s world. True Gent is the man that supports that, the man that helps lift people in his life up, encouraging them to achieve, to live a full life, and to thrive. This is my first male scent launch at Avon and it was important to me that it supports the overall modernization of the Avon brand, this is another push towards strengthening the Avon brand as a whole, and it has been carefully crafted to enable that.
The communication echoes this warmer projection of man. And not just through a caring demeanor as it pertains to his relationship with others, but also as a guy who’s looking after himself; buttoned-up, on-trend, in sync with fashion colors and styles. He is approachable, smiling, not smirking with a sultry ‘blue steel’ grimace on his face. He doesn’t dominate, or exude power, he lights up the room, and he lifts up people around him.
Olfactively we’ve also evolved to convey this concept. True Gent has a warmth to it that is reassuring; it makes you want to nuzzle up to the man wearing it. The geniuses I work with took an ingredient that has immediate traditional masculine connotations, tobacco, and wrapped it with a sophisticated collection of other notes to transform it into a new modern experience. The tobacco heart conjures an instant familiarity that is comforting, and it combines with laurel leaf, bergamot, tonka bean, creamy musk and vanilla suede, to generate a symphony of sweet sensuality that is smooth and contemporary. These aren’t necessarily notes we ordinarily have played with for a men’s scent, which is in itself a sign of how things are changing in male fragrance. Many brands are opening up to try new ingredients, to blur the lines a little, and to capture the nose of a man who is more open to trying things.
He’s also a man that values transparency in his product choice, a key trend transforming the beauty industry as a whole. And that’s why we’ve listed the notes on the back of the bottle. The packaging design overall also deviates from the rectangular traditionally masculine ‘flask’ shape that many male brands have, towards a rounded bottle that cups pleasingly in the palm of your hand. All these touches are deliberate and signal the shifts we see in what men are now gravitating to.
True Gent has been a labor of love in my journey with the team at Avon. I’m proud of how it expresses the evolution of man and masculinity today, and that it contributes to what I consider a healthy change in discourse in cultural conversation about men. Cheers to all the True Gents out there who are making a difference!