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Famous males, spike sales?

Travis Kelce and other famous males emerge as trendsetters in the grooming category.

Travis Kelce is matching the impact on style as his uber famous girlfriend, Taylor Swift. The Super Bowl Sunday win has raised attention to a fever pitch.

Barbers across the country, including Kelce’s stylist Patrick Regan, are experiencing requests for similar haircuts. The buzzcut fade, of course, is not a new style and has been popular for decades in urban cities, but it’s just been worn on less famous faces. Now it’s gaining attention, and barbers link it to Kelce.

It isn’t just his tresses; Kelce has sported numerous facial hair looks over the years, including the bushy beard he maintained during playoffs and the Super Bowl. His evolving looks could inspire men to experiment with different styles.

Kelce is also a lightning rod for hair coloring; he’s an ambassador for Rewind it 10, a hair and beard dye brand co-founded by rapper Fat Joe. The pharmacy industry has a particular soft spot for Kelce. He’s appeared in advertisements sponsored by Pfizer supporting COVID-19 vaccinations.

Since women often purchase products for men, the Swift/Kelce relationship also elevates women’s awareness of products linked to the famous footballer. Apex Marketing Group estimates that Taylor Swift generated the equivalent brand values of $331.5 million for the NFL.

The Kelce and Swift tie-up can impact men’s sales in many ways, confirmed Brian Jeong, CEO and founder of Hawthorne, during a DSN webinar focused on the men’s market, including grooming product sales.

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Kelce isn’t the only sports figure sparking sales of men’s personal care products. Houston Rockets basketball player Jalen Green became the new brand ambassador for Un/Dn Laqr, the nail polish brand from Machine Gun Kelly. Green frequently wears polish on the court. Alex Rodriguez helped launch HIMS makeup for men.

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Beyond athletes, a recent tongue and cheek viral campaign starring actor Michael Cera claimed he created CeraVe. A Super Bowl ad for CeraVe put the rumor to rest with proof dermatologists developed the brand. The campaign’s attention raised men’s awareness of CeraVe as a men’s product, too.

Male influencers, such as Zak Heath @zak.heath and Rhahi Chadda @Rahi_Chadda, are mainstreaming the concept of makeup for men. Statista expects the men’s market will reach $115 billion by 2028, an increase of 30%. That’s healthy, but retailers think there is much more potential, especially in mass stores.

According to Circana data for the 52 weeks that ended December 31, 2023, sales in the mass channel were down or up slightly. The growth of men’s products sold through prestige stores is growing faster. To flip the script, chains like CVS, Target, Walmart and Walgreens are adding items to court younger customers open to trying products beyond razors and shaving cream. Generation Alpha and Gen Z are also the most impacted by social media, where male influencers are emerging.

Statista expects the men’s market will increase and will reach $115 billion by 2028.

Retailers pin hopes on a younger generation of men who are open to buying a multitude of products. In anticipation of a boom, brands are delivering new ammunition to mass retailers to rev up men’s sales. Mintel data reveals men’s skin care launches are up 14.7%. There is a 12.3% jump in launches of hair treatment. There is also an 8.5% bump in gender-neutral items, which could entice more men.

The playbook for men in 2024, according to brands contacted by DSN, include multi-functional products, hair care innovation, all over body deodorants, expansion of indie brands and the use of AI to aid men in product selection.

Solutions for thinning hair continue to drive men’s sales. Target, CVS and Walgreens have cleared out more footage for products to address hair issues. The roster includes standards like Rogaine, as well as newer mass entries including HIMS, Uncle Jimmy and Pura D’Or.

“The trend in the men’s category continues to be hair thinning/hair loss,” said David Horwitz, vice president of Vital’s International, the manufacturer of Pura D’Or. “Pura D’Or’s top sellers Hair Thinning Therapy Shampoo and Conditioner and Advanced Therapy Shampoo and Conditioner are very strong for the brand and support the trend.”

While men try to grow hair, they also focus on hair removal. Wahl continues to bring innovation to the category and its latest introduction engages technology.

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Wahl is harnessing the power of AI with a virtual try-on experience called Style Selector. Users can test different hairstyles and facial hairstyles on avatar-versions of themselves. The Style Selector’s ‘Try Before You Trim’ technology allows men to see what styles look good on them.

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“We’re excited to continue expanding new, innovative ways to enhance the consumer experience and instill the confidence to try a new look,” said Steven Yde, vice president of North America Consumer at Wahl. “The Style Selector offers men the opportunity to find a new hair or facial hairstyle that best suits them in a realistic, fun way and be able to implement it at home.”

AI helps men make buying decisions, but brands are working to simplify the shopping experience—especially as men start making more of their decisions (versus relying on their female companion/wife).

Shelf space for men is limited and faces ROI scrutiny, according to Chris Lopez, marketing director for Okay Pure Naturals. “Retailers like the idea of multi-use, two-in-one items for men—like a body wash and shampoo in one. We are also looking to tackle the issue of an affordable option for men with textured hair with a line of oils,” he said. There is a proliferation of choices for women with textured strands but few for men.

Products with dual purpose are also part of Nautica’s new The Grooming Collection. The cleanser, for example, also hydrates, according to the brand.

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Deborah Dixon, the owner of Precious Mineralz LLC, agreed that the key to men is keeping it simple, multi-purpose and clean. She’s relaunching her Rich Body Polish with men in mind.

“Women 35 to 65-plus are our main demographic to date, but we are beginning to see more purchases by men,” she said. “The minimalist approach [to Rich Body Polish] is appealing to men who want to improve their skin care regimen but don’t want to have many products to achieve desired hydration, moisturizing, brightening and healthier skin,” she said.

Dixon foresees a return to clean-shaven faces that build on shaving sales but also ignites interest in the brand’s Renewing Face Cream. She advises retailers to add impulse items (lip balm) to traditional assortments like cleansers and exfoliators. “And look outside the current well-known skin care companies for unique solutions to provide either a brand or private label.”
Richie Rubin, executive vice president of Garcoa Inc., gives the nod to niche brands as a growth vehicle. “While the large multinational corporations are excellent at managing their supply chain, they take so much longer to innovate,” Rubin said, adding that younger customers are on the hunt for innovation.

One retailer agreed that her stores have added incremental sales from emerging brands such as Duke Cannon, Cremo and Scotch Porter. Overall, body deodorants, a relatively new category, are also gaining traction in the mass market, retailers said. It is an area they hope can make up for soft men’s fragrance sales. Spate data revealed that searches for body deodorants jumped 27% since last year.

Brands that offer total body deodorants include Unilever with Dove, Dove Men + Care and Shea Moisture and Procter & Gamble Native with its Whole Body Deodorant collection and Old Spice Total Body Deodorant Collections. The Native range offers 72-hour odor protection with formulas that are gentle on sensitive skin and sensitive areas and are intended for use in the underarms, chest, privates and feet.

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“We want to empower people to feel confident in their own skin, even during moments when life, well, stinks,” said Vineet Kumar, CEO of Native. “We’ve found that consumers are having to solve for normal body odor with compensating behaviors like multiple showers, changing clothes in the middle of the day, keeping distance from others, or using products not designed to address odor at the source.”

Procter & Gamble researched the impact body odor has on men’s lives. The company is addressing the issues with its new Total Body Deodorant collection. Dermatologist-tested with aluminum-free formulas, the range is available in three forms: Total Body deodorant spray, Total Body deodorant cream and Total Body deodorant stick.

“Body odor outside the armpits is something most people experience, but often su er in silence,” said Kate DiCarlo, senior communications director, personal care portfolio at P&G. “We’re working to normalize total body odor with this approachable line that brings 24/7 freshness from pits to toes and down below with forms meticulously designed to cater to his personal preferences whether he wants broad protection or precision application.”

Nongender personal care products are gaining steam, opening the debate on whether men’s products need their own man caves in stores. “Personally, I feel strongly that retailers do not need ‘men’s’ areas. This perpetuates inequality and division,” Rubin Garcoa explained “While it will likely take the better part of a generation to cycle through this line of thinking, it is noteworthy that one cannot fi nd a ‘woman’s area outside of clothing and fi ne fragrance. I am hopeful that gendered shopping stays away from liquid personal care products.”

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