How Milk Makeup got its products on the faces of American men
Beauty brands are increasingly targeting men in their marketing. US startup Milk Makeup has got the tone – and the products – just right
Getting men hooked on Milk Makeup was the plan from day one, says co-founder Georgie Greville: “From the original brief, we knew we needed to represent guys, to represent the trans community, to represent individuality at the core.”
Milk’s male customers are primarily 20- to 30-something urbanites who are attracted by the brand’s more subtle, skin-enhancing products. Bestsellers include Cooling Water, a seawater- and caffeine-infused gel stick for de-puffing the eye area; Blur Stick, a matt primer designed to minimise the appearance of pores; Sunshine Oil, an oil-based skin tint with SPF and a dewy finish; the purifying Matcha Cleanser and Toner; and Flex Concealer, which is billed as long-wear and cake-free.
Greville attributes much of Milk’s success with men – especially first-time users – to its packaging, which is decidedly unisex and requires no special tools to apply. The brand’s lipsticks look like crayons; its matt skin primer like a rollerball glue you’d find in a primary school art class.
Men have been featured in every campaign. One striking image shows 20-year-old model and actor Luka Sabbat smearing blue eyeshadow across one brow, his cheekbones dusted with highlighter and a tiny star. He looks at ease. “If he can do that with eye pigment and tattoo stamps, then what’s the big deal to use the products you can’t even see?” Greville says.
Over the past two years, American drugstore brands like CoverGirl and Maybelline have signed male beauty influencers, including James Charles (5.4 million Instagram followers) and Manny Gutierrez (4.8 million Instagram followers), in a bid to become more inclusive. But Greville is skeptical these influencers, who favour dramatic contouring and colouring, will have their intended effect: “Although influential in their space, [they’re] not going to convert an everyday guy.”
But better that than nothing. Greville thinks beauty brands that aren’t speaking to men at all are missing a major opportunity: “I understand why they [aren’t] because that’s [not their] main customer. But I think you have a responsibility as a brand to be more inclusive. I would hope that that’s just the way forward for everybody.”