Never have people been less sure of what it is that makes a man. New shifts are placing men in uncharted territory. Rather than wallowing in the professed crisis of masculinity or the end of men, the ‘Re-con Man’ is carving out a new agenda that allows him to recast masculinity in a positive, powerful and optimistic post-recessionary light.
The ability to be a breadwinner has vanished with the economic squeeze, and early 21st-century machismo in the boardroom is being supplanted by women who, in the words of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg are ‘leaning in’ at work.Against these changes, men in their mid-twenties and early thirties are undergoing a revolution in their personal and professional lives that has far-reaching consequences for brands and retailers attempting to address the conundrum that is the ‘Re-con male’
‘Re-Con because he is reconstituted,’ ‘Unlike his Loaded magazine-reading lad equivalent in the 90s, or his more knowing and recent brother, the hipster, this is a man who embraces simplicity, enjoys back-to-basics values, and keeps his friends close, but his boozer closer.’
Whilst changes are creating a range of lifestyle and attitudinal shifts that present a myriad of new challenges for brands, with these challenges comes immense opportunity for those that can anticipate the behaviours of the Re-Con Man.
How to approach ‘Re-con Man’?
The traditional roles of men and women are being re-defined, prompting a new set of wants, needs, demands and behaviours that lifestyle brands need to understand. In response to economic turbulence, newly empowered women and a broad atmosphere of access to instant lifestyle information, men are re-calibrating their own identities with a new sense of freedom.
What’s emerging is a man who is confident, collaborative, committing, proud to be a father as much as a careerist and more discriminating in the lifestyle brands he buys. Value and meaning, beautifully executed, trump laboured spin or ‘artisanal’ lingo. From sport to music, fashion and media, food and drink ‘Re-Con Man’ yearns for a simpler time – a time when music meant something, porn was special, sports heroes were real, and when hanging out with your mates was done in the local boozer or on the pitch, not on Facebook.