Grooming options for facial hair grow


Move over metrosexuals and lumbersexuals. The new guy in town is a spornosexual. He’s buff, isn’t afraid to admit to using moisturizers and has the confidence to make his own decisions about facial hair. He might grow out a beard during No-Shave November and go sleek the next month.

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Facial hair, according to Steven Yde, VP marketing at Wahl Clipper, is an expression of style for more than 65% of men. Ten years ago, the average male shaved five times per week. Now, that’s down to two to three, he noted.

The confluence of several factors — the drop in shaving incidence, enhancements in blades so they last longer and growth of such online shaving clubs as Harry’s and Dollar Shave — have put a nick in sales.

According to data from IRI for the 52-week period ended Aug. 9, the blade category is off 2.5% to $2.5 billion in all mass units tracked. Cartridges took the biggest hit — down almost 6%. The razor category still generates healthy volume with sales up more than 7% thanks to such innovative items as the Flexiball razors from the Gillette Fusion franchise. Shaving cream eked out a 1.2% increase.

Retailers and manufacturers plan to inject new life into sales with products adding value, better assortments in men’s grooming boutiques and wider price options. And some think the tide is changing on facial hair preferences. Michael Law, senior director for customer strategy and planning at Edgewell Personal Care formerly Energizer), noted facial hairstyles are cyclic. “We believe we have passed the peak beard facial hair trend,” he said.

No matter what the future delivers, hair and no hair both require some form of maintenance. Chains can no longer rely on making margins on shavers and driving volume and traffic with cartridges. The time is right for fresh thinking.

Although women account for a healthy slice of shaver sales, men are making 85% of their shaving decisions, Law noted. Those men are critical, according to James Russo, SVP global consumer insights at Nielsen, because the men’s market represents “low-hanging fruit” to help merchants offset sluggish personal care sales. Just adding blades with the latest gimmick isn’t enough to build sales anymore.

Law suggested, “Retailers need to ask themselves, ‘Is my merchandising set up to convert these important shoppers.’”

One area to combat the migration to online clubs is to broaden pricing. Offering more value can diminish online claims of keener pricing. Building a cohesive and easy-to-shop men’s department also is paramount because men don’t like to traverse many aisles, suppliers said. H-E-B is heralded for creating its Man Cave approach. Rite Aid received a nod for a new ramped-up men’s department with prices for every shopper’s budget.

For their part, manufacturers are doing more to tap into demand for shaving to be part of overall skin care. Schick Xtreme3 razor cartridge, for example, has a larger lubrication strip with vitamin E, aloe and shea butter.

Even the move to facial hair requires special products. Bic’s Flex 5 was designed with beards in mind and has a precision-edging blade. Retailers also said they’ve seen an uptick in groomers and trimmers for men looking for all-over hair removal. And, there’s growing demand for shaving creams using more skin care ingredients.

Beyond just launching new items, marketers are taking competition head on. Gillette recently improved its own direct shave club, which offers a shave plan, as well as an option to just receive rewards. Wahl takes to the streets to educate consumers with its 40-ft. mobile barbershop, which travels the country interacting with consumers. Education, Yde said, is especially crucial with millennials who seek authenticity.

Law noted the mass market is still the “go-to” channel for shaving. “Retailers have tremendous strength in their current assortments to compete on value versus shave clubs, but they aren’t fully communicating this,” he suggested. “If you don’t convert men in your shaving category, you don’t have the opportunity to convert them in other segments of grooming to gain bigger baskets and a greater share of wallet.”

Shaving is the gateway to building other men’s grooming category sales, especially skin care. Seizing that opportunity is an up-and-coming brand, Bee Bald. Calling it more than shaving items for bald men, founder Dennis Fisher sees it as a line to deliver incremental volume. “When I created the line, I was looking to provide quality products, for both my face and head, that I would buy and use myself. Our products are used and enjoyed by men with and without hair, as well as women,” he said. The latest is a new moisturizer with SPF 30.

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