01/21/2014 05:46 am ET Updated Mar 19, 2014

Manly Marketing

I'm certainly not the only one who's been writing about the "new male consumer." As a marketing community we are widely recognizing that there's been a generational shift in how men purchase and consumer products, along with their role in the household. There's been a parallel shift in how as marketers we represent them in our messaging. It's been quite fascinating to watch.

There's a layer to the messaging that we've not seen in my professional lifetime, and certainly not in the "metrosexual" movement that perhaps started this acknowledgement of men as consumers.

It's ok to be "manly." Men are men, just as women are women and it's finally fair game to point it out.

So while some shifts have happened in how men live their lives, spend their time, and engage with brands, they are doing it as "men" all along the way. In their own "manly" way.

Witness Duluth Trading Company who markets men's underwear and clearly points out the stink factor in the actual "consumption," with a product solution to address it.

Witness too the rise in new age barbershops popping up all over our urban centers. As hybrids between the full-service salon and traditional barber shop, these walk-in barbers have a slightly better feel than the old school version complete with leather chairs, uniformed "stylists," and in some cases snack bars. Oh, and flat screen televisions blasting a range from CNN to ESPN to movies on demand. But they also offer stuff that men are looking for these days like a pampering shave, stubble facial and brow trim.

This trend in manly marketing is happening in big business and in small. I happened to come across a small boutique in a nearby town. In it they sold a range of manly things from flannel shirts and boot cut jeans, to tech accessories, to six pack carriers, to grooming kits. Every item had a manly but stylish feel all at the same time. The owner was the quintessential man of our time, complete with perfect three-day stubble, a rugged shirt, big 'ole boots, and manicured hands.

The point here?

As marketers, we need to recognize the evolving attitudes and behaviors of our customers and keep up with their needs. It's fun to see the changes that happen over time and to embrace them to grow your business. Whether it's this particular trend or another.

This is true whether you have a business that targets men or not. Because regardless of your target audience, there's likely to be a man in their life that's influencing their decisions in one way or another. To understand that is to better understand the target you're looking to engage. Manly or not.