Recent searches for supernova II-P progenitors in external galaxies have led to the identification of red objects with magnitudes and colours indicative of red supergiants, in most cases implying quite low luminosities, and hence masses. Current results would suggest that all explosions come from objects less massive than ~ 18 M ⊙ and that some explosions come from stars with masses well below 10 M ⊙. Stellar models, on the other hand, can only produce explosions from objects more massive than > 9 M ⊙. What does our knowledge of local red supergiants tell us about the expected properties of such objects? We present the results of complementary large spectroscopic surveys and detailed studies of open clusters that point to substantially different observational characteristics depending on metallicity.