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Parting Shot: Let’s Talk about Grooming

As a magazine writer, I get PR emails from time to time. Most of them are about bands, or upcoming art shows, or charity events. But some days I get blessed with a windfall of rubbish. In the span of a mere 28 minutes one Wednesday morning, I got emails with the following subject lines: Three Generations of Female Advocates Against Monsanto to Speak at Shareholder Meeting; Dancing Bear Wine Pairing Dinner Jan. 30 to Benefit Appalachian Bear Rescue; and U.S. Consumers Cite Self-Esteem as Top Motivation for Grooming.

Those first two are of no good to me, but I’m sure they’re useful for someone. The world needs advocates and bears, I suppose. The third one was a bit baffling, though. I opened it, and lo and behold, a company called GfK Global had conducted an online study about grooming. I immediately realized I had to share these findings with the world. So that’s what I’ve done here, along with some helpful italicized commentary to guide everyone through the intricacies of this staggering research.

But perhaps the most vexing question was left unanswered—why? Why does this exist? This isn’t the reason we built the Internet. Thousands of years of human intelligence have culminated in this. Our ability to send images and video and terabits of information around the world through wires and laser beams into low orbit (okay, I have no idea how the Internet works), and this is what we’ve chosen to discuss? Shower gel and plucking eyebrows? For real? Alright then, f*ck it. Let’s talk about grooming.

New GfK findings show that “to feel good about myself” and “to please my spouse or partner” are the top two motivators for grooming among U.S. consumers.  Other responses included “because my mom told me to” and “so others would stop scooting away from me while holding their noses as if I am made entirely of rancid meat.”

The results are part of a new GfK survey—among over 27,000 consumers in 22 countries—investigating reasons for trying to look good and the amount of time spent on grooming. Calm down, Sipowicz—this isn’t an investigation. You didn’t find Amelia Earhart or crack the secrets of the Zodiac Killer. You just asked some people on the Internet why they use combs.

GfK asked consumers to choose among common reasons for personal grooming… Wait, seriously? You made them choose from pre-selected options? “Hey tell us why you groom, but before you do, let us tell you the only possible reasons you could have.” WHAT THE HELL KIND OF INVESTIGATION IS THIS, MAN?!

…which is defined here as any activities involving bathing, shaving, dressing, hair, and make-up. Note: setting lint on fire with a hair dryer does not count as grooming.

The most popular motivation in the U.S., cited by 62 percent of consumers here, is “to feel good about myself.” Stunning insight.

Americans spend an average of 5.3 hours weekly on personal grooming. Globally, 60 percent of consumers cited “to feel good about myself” as their main grooming motivation; respondents worldwide spend roughly four hours weekly on grooming practices. Four hours???? You can’t create a perfectly coiffed dome in four hours a week!! Good lord, no wonder the rest of the world looks so ugly. C’mon, Belgium—step your game up, you truffle-loving bastards.

In the U.S., “to please my spouse or partner” and “to express individuality” were tied as the second-most-cited reason for grooming, scoring 35 percent each. Nice—the next two reasons were dead even and also diametrically opposed. Really underscores the utility of this study. “Most people groom because they are relentlessly individualistic and determined to reflect their inner snowflakes, or because they base their opinion of themselves entirely on how someone else looks at them.”

“To make a good first impression” took fourth place (34 percent), and “because it makes me feel in control” came in fifth (33 percent). That has to be a misprint. A full third of the population grooms to feel more in control? Shut the presses down, fellas, I think we’ve got some bigger issues than pomade at play here. That’s some pretty bleak stuff for a Wednesday morning email, GfK.

It gets pretty bland after that—I know, hard to believe—so let’s fast-forward to a behind-the-scenes look at our friends over at the GfK Commercial Institute of Face-Washery and Body-Scrubbery…

GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information… Debatable.

…that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. It took 13,000 people to come up with this? Maybe we should go back to digging for minerals and trading animal skins by the river. Tertiary economies are so much bullshit.

This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. For more information, please visit www.gfk.com or follow GfK on Twitter. The company’s Twitter feed refers to the employees as “(in)sightseers.” Oh, I get it—you’re idiots. Makes total sense now. Thanks for the email.