The expanding universe of products and publications geared to men’s fashion, clothing, interests, and lifestyles takes a new and innovative turn with the introduction of Frey, a laundry detergent made for men.
Yes, this is a real thing. And, as it turns out, it’s actually quite a good – and smart – product.
Let’s first address the basics – yes, it does its job well. As a laundry detergent, we found Frey to be just as effective and reliable as any top-shelf, mainstream brand of laundry detergent. And, even though it is targeted to male consumers, Frey’s distinctive oak-and-musk scent is quite pleasing in an all-purpose way. Yes, it registers as generally masculine to the nose, but not in a distracting or off-putting way should there be a lady living with you.
The second, and to us more interesting, point on which we fixated has to do with Frey’s value proposition as a brand, and by extension, as a product itself.
To be sure, like many who first come across this masculine-themed laundry detergent, we instinctively guffawed. Really? A laundry detergent to liberate the emasculated male shame of washing-up day? Is this a joke? Is it ironic, perhaps?
Definitely no and not one bit.
Setting aside the “gender equity” claims which we found a bit reaching, the actual idea of a laundry detergent specifically developed for and marketed to men is quite brilliant. While we don’t believe that a majority of men are chaffing under the unfair burden of a female-oriented consumer household products market, recognizing that more and more men probably do care about their clothing and how it’s cleaned, is a sharp observation.
Just look around. Men’s fashion is very much big business and magazines, websites, and blogs geared toward menswear and curated, thoughtful living abound. Star athletes – very much consumer and marketing bellwethers – are cleaning up and dressing up (see: Wade, Dwayne). Men’s fashion both high-end and street level is becoming more accepted by average guys and they are now focusing on things like thread count, fabric weights, and the wonders of made-to-measure clothing.
In a nutshell, growing numbers of men care about their wardrobes and actually research and buy their own clothes. Men are also expanding their interests into lifestyle areas traditionally seen as women’s turf, such as food and decorating. Hey, we like the Food Network and HGTV too.
So, when you take into account these larger social trends that are expanding the world view of many – but of course not all – men, a clothing detergent targeting these very individuals actually makes a whole lot of sense. It’s a natural extension of increasing male interest in clothing and quality and targets the likely “maintaining your investment” sensibilities of these consumers.
The branding and logo design smartly reflect on the product and it’s rightful place in your household rather than relying on some hyper-masculine trope, like putting a mustache or machine gun on the label. The dark base colors are nicely offset by targeted red framing accents and crisp white sans serif lettering.
Minimal text and concise, useful information reinforce a functionality and modern look that works well with male consumers. The packaging clearly reads as masculine, sophisticated, and reliable without a hint of irony or shtick.
And that may be Frey’s most interesting and important message: it’s come to play ball and not apologize for being here. Nor should it.