The survey 'Male emancipation in the bathroom' conducted by the German-based personal care giant found that French, German and American men were motivated to protect their skin from environmental pollutants and sun damage while Russians took a more laissez-faire attitude.
Beiersdorf, which claims to have 'made' the male skin care market with the release of its first Nivea face cream in 1986, questioned up to 800 men in Germany, France, Russia, China and the USA about their personal care regimes in autumn 2005 and 2007.
Status motivates personal care
In contrast to female personal care regimes, male grooming is not an end in itself. Instead it is motivated by work or social situations, according to the survey, and men use care products as a way to show their status and distinguish themselves from others.
In Russia product use is motivated primarily by a wish to triumph in society and work environment and a well groomed appearance denotes success. For Russians the image of masculinity is still very tied to the idea of the breadwinner, according to the survey.
Americans, however, are much more emancipated in their skin care ideas.
They are more liberated from rigid stereotypical expectations of what a man should be and taking care of one's skin and protecting it against the elements no longer runs counter to the idea of masculinity.
In China the younger generation are motivated by similar values to the Americans however the older generation are still very much motivated by social status and success rather than health and wellness concerns.
French and Germans aware of environmental stress
According to Beiersdorf, 65 per cent of French and 46 per cent of German men believe that excessive sunbathing harms the skin compared to only 15 per cent of Russians.
In China attitudes to sun and tanned skin are very different, with 17 per cent desiring a lighter complexion.
In addition, French and German men note the negative effect of alcohol and nicotine on the skin whereas the majority of Russians do not, perhaps illustrating the effect of Western Europe's extensive health education campaigns.
Men's introduction to grooming
The survey also found significant differences in the stage at which men became interested in personal care products, information that could prove very useful in informing cross cultural marketing campaigns.
According to the survey in Western countries the first contact with personal care occurs when the consumer is a teenager.
However, in Russia and China an interest in the world of male grooming comes with increasing independence and the forming of relationships.
Nonetheless, one factor does seem to translate across cultures: it is women who initiate men's interest in personal care products.
Furthermore, mothers, sisters or partners purchase products for approximately a third of German, French, Russian and Chinese men suggesting that marketers cannot afford to ignore the influence of women in the decisions of the male consumer.