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Men get back into grooming habits

Beard, deodorant and skin care brands are helping men return to in-person meetings and social activities.

As the masks come off and social distancing protocols ease, men are tidying up their pandemic beards, showing off their new haircuts and glowing skin, and becoming reacquainted with deodorant. Manufacturers said men are purchasing shaving, skin care and odor control products as they rejoin the world outside their homes. While some of these grooming segments saw strong sales during the pandemic, especially online, others are regaining strength.

According to Grandview Research, the global men’s personal care market was valued at $47.5 billion in 2019 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 6% from 2020 to 2027. Manufacturers point to several factors that will contribute to this growth, among them, men’s increasing awareness of the importance of personal care, the emergence of social media as an influence on men’s looks and the need to tame those pandemic beards. 

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Trim and Tidy
As they return to work and social life, many men are keeping their pandemic beards and finding ways to make that look work for them. “Our how-to sections have exploded over the last year on our site and continue to have record high views,” said Steven Yde, vice president of marketing for the North American consumer division of Wahl Clipper. 

[Related Content: A new man: Men’s grooming is growing, and not just clippers]

Among the successes this year for the Sterling, Ill.-based company was the launch of its next generation Stainless Steel Trimmer. Consumers who previously might have spent $20 to $30 on a trimmer spent up to $60 on the new product. While stimulus checks contributed to the sales boom, there was another factor. “It is the lessons from a lockdown and disruptions to the supply chain,” Yde said. “Men wanted to buy something they know will last.” 

Men also want separate trimmers for facial hair and body hair, and purpose-specific tools, according to Jack Gemal, division head and partner of Xtreme Personal Care, which has the license for Barbasol electric shave products. The Edison, N.J.-based company offers rotary and foil shavers, beard trimmers, body groomers and other tools. “They care more than ever about the way they look,” he said. “It’s not about being clean shaven. It’s about being groomed.” 


Deodorants Return
Shaving or not shaving was not the only grooming concern during the pandemic. According to a June survey by Degree, 68% of respondents admitted to intentionally not using deodorant because they were aware they were not going to see people. Not surprisingly, the brand also noted that there had been a slump in overall deodorant sales across the board during the pandemic. Fortunately, as the country reopens, 55% of survey respondents said they plan to use deodorant more frequently. To help consumers keep this promise, the Unilever brand recently launched Degree Unstoppable Freshness with MotionSense technology in coconut and mint and mandarin and vetiver. 

[Related Content: Focus On: Xtreme Personal Care grows in men’s grooming with Barbasol license]

Other brands said they are also expecting a sales boost. “Men are returning to life, shopping, restaurants and the office,” said Ryan O’Connell, president and CEO of Duke Cannon Supply. “We are seeing a strong comeback for hair styling and antiperspirant and deodorant.” 

Minneapolis-based Duke Cannon, known for its Big Ass Brick of Soap and Thick high-viscosity body washes, among other products, recently launched Dry Ice Cooling Antiperspirant + Deodorant for men who run uncomfortably hot. Although its efficacy is comparable to clinical antiperspirant, O’Connell said, the brand does not market it as such. “Men don’t want to be told they need a clinical antiperspirant,” he said. “It implies a problem.” Another recent launch is Bay Rum bar soap, meant to evoke a carefree beach day. 

“Men are returning to life, shopping, restaurants and the office. We are seeing a strong comeback for hair styling and antiperspirant and deodorant.”
Ryan O’Connell, president and CEO of Duke Cannon Supply
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Other men’s grooming brands are adding deodorant and antiperspirant to their offerings. Earlier this year Harry’s, which began as a razor subscription service, launched a line of antiperspirants   and deodorants. “This was our most requested product ever,” said Jaime Crespo, general manager at New York City-based Harry’s. “Thousands of people called us or posted on social media.” Men wanted innovative odor control products, and they didn’t want to smell the same as they did in high school. 

Also, Harry’s research indicated that two-thirds of men were using women’s or unisex skin care products, so the company launched products for men’s skin, as well as dandruff and hair care products. The demand reflects a larger pandemic-related trend. “We went through a personal transformation,” Crespo said. “People change, and they want to craft a self-image that is a reflection of the new people we have all become.” 

Skin Care and More
The new self-image includes not only appearance but self-care, and skin care plays an important role. Men are taking more ownership over their grooming routines, according to a spokesperson at Nivea, a brand of the Beiersdorf family of products. There is demand for products that leave men with healthy looking skin without a greasy feel, as well as solutions for such sensitive skin concerns as razor burn.

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That presents opportunities for retailers. “Retailers should be building on this trend and helping the male consumer to not only find the appropriate products for their specific grooming needs, but also to develop a regimen,” said the Nivea spokesperson. “Men want to look and feel good about themselves as they get back to their pre-pandemic lifestyle and are looking to retailers and brands to provide guidance to help them achieve that.”

[Related Content: Manufacturers are growing the men’s grooming category with new products]

Men are also going online for guidance on ingredients and product efficacy, and seeking products that are affordable, innovative and support their active lifestyle. “Social media has allowed them to feel more confident in purchasing products for themselves both online and at retail,” said Jack Savdie, senior vice president of sales at New York City-based Global Beauty Care, which makes the Nobleman brand of products. “Men are researching trends and experimenting with personal care products that speak to them.” 

These include multiuse products for the face, body and beard, as well as serums, eye creams, face masks and targeted treatments. This summer Nobleman launched Fresh Start Face & Beard Wash, Exfoliating Facial Scrub, Retinol Eye Serum, Cucumber Under-Eye Pads, Cooling Face & Body Cleansing Wipes, Powerful Peel-Off Black Mask, Charcoal Cleansing Nose Strips and Deodorant Wipes. 

As men explore the category, retailers should expand their selection in men’s grooming products, and include men in the messaging and merchandising. “As men are increasingly more comfortable shopping for themselves, retailers should create a welcoming space both in store and online,” Savdie said. 

Others maintain that men necessarily do not want to buy many products. “At the end of the day, most men still want the simplest grooming regimen that will take the least amount of time for the least amount of money,” said Dennis Fisher, founder and CEO of Bee Bald. The Beachwood, Ohio-based company makes shaving and skin care products for the face and head. The brand is developing such new products as beard balm and a clay mask treatment for bald heads. 

“Men want to look and feel good about themselves as they get back to their pre-pandemic lifestyle and are looking to retailers and brands to provide guidance to help them achieve that.”
a spokesperson at Nivea said.
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Online Purchasing 
The growth of men’s grooming products, especially online, will continue. “The pandemic has changed shopping behaviors permanently,” said Stuart Hendrickson, senior marketing director for men’s care at White Plains, N.Y.-based Combe. The company makes Just For Men beard oil, mustache and beard color and hair color. The opportunity for retailers is that they can offer a much larger selection online, without the constraints of shelf space. In hair and beard color, retailers should provide a full assortment of shades. 

While having a good assortment is crucial, consumers also expect retailers to be knowledgeable and transparent about the quality of products on shelves and online, said Juan Morillo, marketing manager of Okay Pure Naturals in Miami Gardens, Fla. “The post-pandemic shopper will be looking at ingredients, packaging, sourcing, and expect retailers to do the same,” he said. They are also looking for natural grooming products as they learned much about their carbon footprints and how staying home for a year helped the environment. 

The all-natural trend began pre-pandemic, then accelerated over the past year. “Folks took a hard look at their lifestyle,” said Kyle LaFond, founder of American Provenance in Mount Horeb, Wis. “They are reading labels and informing themselves. They are taking a more sincere look at their practices.” Last year the company launched the skin care line AP Botanics. 

LaFond predicted much excitement will come to brick-and-mortar retail in the next two years. Many retailers canceled their review period during the pandemic because they needed to dedicate resources to health and sanitation. “You’re going to see a rash of new products on shelf,” he said. “A lot of buyers will be reengaged and there will be new products.” 

Consumers will want to continue pandemic-related conveniences, such as buy online with pickup in store. “Retailers must fulfill orders wherever the consumer wants it,” Duke Cannon’s O’Connell said.