We’ve all heard about the marketing segments called “yuppie, metro-sexual, millennials, etc.” but we’ve probably not heard of the segment called YUMmies. Young Urban Males, dubbed “Yummies” by HSBC, is a segment, really. And big brands have made noticeable shifts to target this segment, including Burberry, Tumi, Michael Kors, according to this recent article from BusinessWeek.
There may be a number of reasons why we are only hearing about this now.
Desperately Seeking a New Segment
Metrosexuals and Millennials have been around for a while now and they almost seem mainstream already because most companies have a Millennial strategy by now -- from hotels building boutique versions of themselves to cater to this demanding group, to auto companies launching new Coupe SUVs to tap the luxury AND eco-conscious group, to quick service restaurants being overtaken by more expensive “fast casual” establishments like Chipotle and Pret-a-Manger. These undercurrents have been at work for a number of years already.
A New Segment is Not a New Segment Until It Has a New Name
Brands like Unilever’s Dove launched Dove Men Care in 2010 to tap into the male segment that was all but ignored by beauty and personal care brands to focus their budgets on women, who countless studies had shown control a large proportion of household spending. Many other brands jumped on board the mommy blogger gravy train and never got off. Men focused brands like The Art of Shaving have chugged along behind the scenes for years. In fact, a Women’s Wear Daily report from 2011 already mentioned many fashion brands shifting their focus to men, who were becoming more conscious of fashion. Now that the new segment has a name, more brands can build strategies to target them, reporters can refer to them when they see brands targeting them, and perhaps the male consumer themselves will have a new persona to rally around -- i.e. it is OK to be picky about that laptop backpack and to pay more for one that is actually fashionable.
So, Are YUMmies Going to be Yummy or Yucky for Brands?
While there are macro trends supporting the thesis that young urban males will represent a rapidly growing segment of spending, there may be some other less obvious facts that may put a damper on how explosive the growth could be. While the fact that men are getting married older means they will have more disposable income to spend on these luxury items, these tend to be younger men, earlier in their careers, and therefore with still limited salaries. Consumers are getting more savvy and also empowered with information -- so the quality of the product needs to back up the high prices; and brand and cache alone may not be enough to support much higher prices. Finally, while urban males are less likely to be investing in cars as their status symbol and therefore have more dollars to spend on smaller status symbol items, more and more of that spending is going into other things like fancy meals, organic food, etc.
And finally, these young, affluent, urban males who are fashion conscious and aware of their status symbols may not like the fact that some brands lump them together with a derogatory moniker and may end up rebelling and avoiding the brand altogether.