Over one quarter of males agree that men are sexualised in adverts just as much as women

January 27, 2016

It seems that the rise of ‘Hunkvertising’ is causing men to avert their eyes away from advertising. Indeed, new research from market intelligence agency Mintel reveals that half (50%) of all men say they don’t pay much attention to advertising, whilst more than one quarter (26%) agree that men are sexualised in adverts just as much as women are.

Mintel research indicates that advertising is making young males feel inadequate about their appearance, as one in six (17%) men aged 16-24 agree that male models in advertising have made them more self-conscious of their looks, up from an average of 11%. Older men, meanwhile, may feel marginalised, with 70% of men aged over 65 agreeing they don’t pay attention to advertising.

Today, just 8% of men say they are inspired by the way men look in advertising, and it seems many feel alienated by the way their gender is currently portrayed. One quarter (25%) say they find it hard to identify with men that are shown in adverts, whilst 22% say that men are too stereotyped in adverts. Furthermore, one in five (20%) agree that advertising too often portrays men as incompetent in the home.

Just 8% of men say they are inspired by the way men look in advertising

Jack Duckett, Consumer Lifestyles Analyst at Mintel, said:

“The trend for using hyper-athletic male models and celebrities in advertising has grown significantly in recent years, giving rise to the term ‘Hunkvertising’, and resulting in men today being just as sexualised in advertising campaigns as women. Whilst this holds a level of aspiration for some men, for many more it has resulted in feelings of inadequacy. This points to an opportunity for brands to create more campaigns that feature average, everyday men.”

As well as driving men away from advertising, it seems the unrealistic body image portrayed in advertising is having an effect on men’s lifestyle priorities. Today, Mintel research shows that men are more likely to list being in good shape as a future priority than they are to list having a relationship. Almost half (45%) of men say that being in good shape is a priority for the future, compared to 38% who prioritise getting married or being in a long term relationship, followed by having children (23%) and being promoted at work (18%).

Furthermore, men aged 16 to 34 rank being in good shape above having a close group of friends as half (50%) of this say that being in good shape is currently a priority compared to 44% who prioritise having and maintaining a close group of friends. What’s more, being in good shape trumps healthy eating amongst this age group, as just 48% of men aged 16-34 say this is a current priority.

Health has been a dominant trend in the UK in recent years, and this is evidenced by the high proportion of men who cite eating healthily and being in good shape both as current and future priorities. With advertising increasingly promoting hyper-athletic bodies as a symbol of modern masculinity, men are feeling under pressure to emulate the physiques they see on screen.” Jack comments.

But it seems that it is not just their physique which men are image-conscious over.h Wen shopping for clothing, shoes and accessories, one in five (19%) men say it’s important to purchase a well-known brand compared to 16% of women. Indeed, price is less important to male consumers, as 66% of women say it’s important to buy clothes that are good value for money compared to 55% of men. What’s more, 47% of women say it’s important that these products are on sale or on offer, compared to less than two in five (38%) men.

Finally, it is not just male models which men are growing averse to, as 30% of men find adverts featuring female models clichéd, while 26% deem these sexist and another 15% find them patronising.

Men’s brands can play a bigger role in the push for gender equality, helping to garner favour with male consumers who already champion equality, as well as helping to educate others about its value.” Jack concludes.

Press review copies of the  Marketing to Men UK 2016 report and interviews with Consumer Lifestyles Analyst Jack Duckett are available on request from the press office.

Mintel News

For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

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