Latino men devote more effort to looking good, a new study reports

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Goodbye, metrosexual, and hola, vanidoso.

Increasingly, growth in the men’s grooming arena will be driven by the personal care habits of Latinos. That’s the takeaway from a recent study focusing on the grooming preferences of Latino men in the United States and Census Bureau figures that show the Hispanic population growing at a faster rate than the general population.

“That demographic is really driving population growth,” said Peter Filiaci, vice president of brand solutions for Univision, the Spanish-language network that commissioned the grooming study. “Especially in the coveted 18 to 49 demographic, where one out of every five guys in the country right now is Hispanic.”

Filiaci said that while past Univision studies have focused on understanding the purchasing power and buying habits of Latinas, the impetus for delving deeper into the grooming habits of their male counterparts came when traditionally female-oriented personal care brands started moving into the men’s space. “We saw increased activity – like Dove launching its Men+Care line – and decided we wanted to understand the Latino guy,” he said.


Results of the study, titled “Why Latinos Look So Good,” were announced in New York City in March and include the following insights: While Latino men use basic grooming products (think soap and shampoo) with the same frequency as other men, when it comes to the “non-basic” products, the behavior shifts. According to the study, Latinos use hair-styling products an average of 3.4 times per week compared to 1.7 times per week for non-Latinos, as well as more moisturizer (3.7 times vs. 2.0 times a week) and fragrance (4.2 vs. 2.9 times).

As a result, the study estimates that Latino men spend an average of $8 more per month than their non-Latino counterparts on personal care products, which is no small chunk of change. It’s especially notable in light of a U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey estimate that from 2000 to 2009 the population of 15- to 44-year-old Latino males in the country grew nearly twice as fast as that age demographic overall.

According to Filiaci, most of the results were in line with trends and attitudes already familiar to Univision, but there were a few eye-openers. “We knew these guys use these products – and heavily — but what we really didn’t know was why. The big surprise was that these guys really celebrate vanidad — or vanity — over machismo … We found that that the word ‘vanity’ doesn’t have a negative connotation to it with this consumer.”

The same was true with the word ‘metrosexual,’ which has taken on a negative connotation for a large segment of the general male population. “The guys in our study brought it up, almost with a shrug of the shoulders,” said Filiaci. “As if to say, ‘Yeah, it just means you take good care of yourself.’”

Leylha Ahuile, senior multicultural analyst for Mintel, a Chicago-based research firm whose findings were among those used in the Univision report, explained the divergent attitudes between Latino men and the population at large this way: “Overall, for Latinos, looking good demonstrates success, and [in the U.S.] you’re talking about a population that’s mostly of immigrant descent. Why do you immigrate? To have a better life — to be successful … so the idea that you look good and your hair is well groomed and you smell good is a way of saying: ‘You know what? I’ve achieved a certain level of success.’”

Although much of the study simply confirmed the trending attitudes and behavior, there was a surprise takeaway. “One of the most shocking things for me was the intensity around the idea of advertising in Spanish,” Filiaci said. “Even in the [focus] groups which were primarily conducted in English. [Respondents] said things like: ‘The guys in those ads don’t look like me, they don’t look like my family, and they don’t even bother to speak my language.”


Asked to name a brand that manages to speak to the Latino male in his language — not just linguistically but culturally — Mintel’s Ahuile and Univision’s Filiaci both pointed to Unilever’s Degree deodorant brand. Ahuile said the brand’s constant advertising presence on ESPN Deportes and sponsorship of Mexico’s World Cup soccer team has helped make it the top-preferred brand among all Latinos – men and women – with 20% reporting that when they use a deodorant or antiperspirant they reach for Degree.

Filiaci cited an example from the Univision-commissioned study. “When we were talking about deodorants in one of our focus groups, one guy couldn’t think of the brand he uses,” he said. “He just said: ‘It’s the one that makes me smell like Guardado.’”

Filiaci is referring to Andrés Guardado, a mid-fielder on the Mexican national soccer team who is a pitchman for Degree Men. Filiaci said recalling the soccer player was key to the focus group member making the connection.

With more grooming brands dependent on this consumer — and Filiaci says almost all of the growth in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic in the next decade will come from Latino men — making more of those connections will be an ever-more important goal.

Make that “Gooooaaaallll!”