Unilever skincare brand Dove is making its first foray into the men’s market with a range eyeing £21m in first-year sales.

The Dove Men+Care range, which Unilever described as its biggest launch planned for 2010, targets “the more mature man” who the manufacturer said was under-serviced in the male toiletries market.

Rolling out later this month, Dove Men+Care comprises 12 deodorants and body and face wash products (rsp: from £2.39 to £2.99) and will be supported by a £12m marketing programme, including TV ads expected to kick off in early spring and will run throughout the year.

“We recognise that getting the girl and racing fast cars is just not a relevant brand image for men over a certain age,” said brand manager Paul Connell. “Purchasing personal care products continues to be a chore for many men who can still be found using unisex or female products. There is a real category opportunity to grow the grooming repertoire of men over 40 in the UK.”

Unilever, which also owns the Sure, Lynx and Vaseline brands, claimed that overall sales of male toiletries were flat because of deep discounting and declining sales of shaving products.

“The recession is forcing men to save money by shaving less frequently although shower gels and deodorants are performing well,” said Connell. “The huge marketing campaign for Dove Men+Care means we don’t expect such reliance on promotions and hope it will help the men’s category to better health.”

Connell admitted that the Vaseline men’s skincare range, launched two years ago and fronted by sportsmen like Lawrence Dallaglio and James Cracknell, had missed the mark with consumers. The range’s body and hand lotions, specially formulated to keep men’s skin “strong and resilient”, are being phased out, although the deodorant and shower gels will stay on shelves.