Manufacturers are growing the men’s grooming category with new products

It no longer is a taboo for men to take care of their appearance. Gone is the mindset that men are not interested in anything more than basic grooming options. In its place is a more evolved understanding that, given the opportunity, men want to buy products that help them look and feel their best.

As assortments have changed, so too has the preferred destination for men to buy their grooming products. According to observers, the category — once dominated by brick-and-mortar stores — is seeing business slowly gravitate toward online merchants.

Officials at Wahl Clipper, for example, said that while it is true that sales of clippers are up more than 10% this year in stores thanks to a trend toward self-barbering, the increase is even greater online. A similar picture can be painted for trimmers. Steven Yde, vice president of marketing, North American consumer division at Sterling, Ill.-based Wahl, said that his company’s professional business has been exploding, a leading indicator, he noted, that in addition to online, consumers are buying grooming tools from non-reporting channels as well.

“Culturally, men continue to want a more casual appearance and this extends to grooming,” Yde said. “As long as beards are on-trend and men continue to wear their hair short, at least on the sides, interest in grooming and related products will remain strong.”

Wahl recently extended its reach in men’s grooming, moving beyond clippers and trimmers with a line of beard wash, balm, pomade, shave cream, shampoo and body wash.

Officials at Procter & Gamble, whose World Shave Headquarters is based in Boston, said that when it comes to shaving, men want closeness and comfort first, which the company focuses on when introducing new products. That said, Pankaj Bhalla, director at Gillette & Venus, North America, noted the facial hair trend is still going strong, which he attributed to several key factors, including men’s’ desire to reflect their individuality and masculinity, as well as a shift from traditional work culture to a more casual and flexible environment.

“More men are choosing to have a range of facial hair styles, and are developing an interest in facial hair styling and the tools that go with it,” he said. Facial hair may be on-trend, but P&G’s research shows shaving still represents the largest segment of the men’s grooming category. For instance, even among younger men, 43% of guys age 18-to-24 years old and 39% of men age 25-to-34 years old are clean-shaven. In comparison, the next largest segment is 22% representing those who shift between clean-shaven and stubble, followed by beard and mustache with 12% of men age 18-to-24 years old, and 16% of men age 25-to-34 years old adopting this look. Only 1% of men choose to refrain from grooming entirely.

The company’s latest efforts have fallen under its “One Size Does Not Fit Every Man” motto, offering products that can address unmet needs for large portions of the shaving population. Its latest launch took aim at sensitive skin. In November 2018, Bhalla unveiled Gillette Skinguard at the brand’s Global Innovation Summit.

“One size does not fit all when it comes to razor,” Bhalla said. “That’s why we’ve innovated across our portfolio this year.” Gillette Skinguard features a plastic bar that sits between two blades in the center of the cartridge, absorbing pressure from the hand and smoothing skin, while raising the blades to stop irritation. The launch of the Skinguard razor was accompanied by the introduction of Gillette Pure, a line of shaving cream and gel free of alcohol, parabens, dyes and sulfates. These innovations come as the brand partners with 3-D printing company Formlabs to create personalized, 3-D printed razor handles that can be bought exclusively online.

“From a buying-habit standpoint, we want to be wherever guys want to shop — which continues to be both in-store and online — and we want to make sure wherever we are, we have a range of products available to meet their needs,” he said.

For consumers who do not shave, companies like Amityville, N.Y.-based Sundial Brands are looking to provide facial hair care products that work, but also deliver on the needs of men who care about the ingredients in these products and what they stand for. Sundial created its SheaMoisture Men’s Shave collection featuring shea butter with just that in mind, according to Nicola Chung, the company’s senior director of innovation.

Chung said the goal was to offer solution-based, efficacious products that address men’s most common grooming concerns and, at the same time, feature natural, certified-organic and fair-trade ingredients. “Shave care products featuring natural ingredients don’t need to be at a premium price and only sold in a specialty store,” Chung said. “We created the collection after hearing from male customers who complained of razor burn, bumps and other unpleasant side effects of shaving, especially those with very thick, coarse curly facial hair.”

In addition, the popularity of beards with men of all ages, backgrounds and professions has created the need for grooming products specifically developed for beard care. “Beards now seem to be a form of self-expression, and men talk to us about how they reveal their personality through their beard,” Chung said. “Whether sporting stubble, scruff or a full-grown beard, facial hair has become an important accessory for men.”

Calling beard care one of the hottest trends right now, Chung said Sundial created its SheaMoisture Beard Care collection with invigorating maracuja oil and certified organic shea butter to soften, smooth and cleanse without drying out facial hair and skin. The nutrient-rich ingredients offer anti-inflammatory relief to help soothe and reduce razor burn, ingrown hairs and blemishes, she said. The products also are cruelty-free and made without sulfates, parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol and mineral oil.

Officials at White Plains, N.Y.-based Combe — which markets such brands as Just for Men, Aqua Velva and Brylcreem — said that sales of men’s grooming products are slowly rebounding from last year. Ralph Marburger, vice president of global gray care, men’s grooming, pointed out that men’s body wash, beard care, and electric razors and trimmers are showing strong growth. Marburger cited the brand Harry’s as one of the key reasons sales of men’s grooming products are on the upswing.

Now featured at both Target and, as of May, in Walmart, Harry’s initially began as an online only subscription service with a prime audience that was the younger, next-generation consumer. The vertically-integrated company’s millennial-inspired shaving and skin care product line, which includes razors, shaving gel, post-shave products and blade refills, was designed to offer a differentiated experience in terms of value, quality and affordability, company officials said. Thus far it is proving its value on the shelf and helping retailers attract younger shoppers.

Point out the obvious
“Men continue to look for a fast and convenient shopping experience,” Marburger said. “They are very task focused and don’t shop around much.” Best practice retailers, he said, are winning men’s grooming consumers through an enhanced in-store experience. However, in general, he said traditional retailers are losing ground to e-commerce merchants, especially with new product launches. “That’s where many shoppers are trying the products, a