COVID-19 pandemic be damned. Men, just like women, still want to look good during a crisis. The question is whether they are buying grooming products in stores or online now.
Even as many men grew elaborate beards, let their hair grow long or allowed their skin to crack, a large portion of male consumers used the lockdown time to experiment with new looks and try some different products. Some had to look professional for Zoom meetings, while others simply got bored and started searching online, finding themselves watching instructional videos on how to update their quarantined lumbersexual style.
Yet, the pandemic definitely has played a role in where male shoppers go for these items. Retailers, many said, will have to work hard to get consumers to come back to their stores as the pandemic subsides. That holds true for the men’s grooming category, as well.
The larger trend driving sales is consumers’ changing attitude about personal care items. “I think men are more receptive to hearing about and learning about grooming products than ever before,” LaFond said. “If you look at our online traffic, the comments and questions are coming from a broad swath of folks, not just hipsters and avant-garde, but men at the middle or end of their professional careers.”
These demands are true for men of varying ages. Younger men are more likely to have tried hair removal products with added skin care benefits. Zagozan, citing Mintel’s “US Shaving And Hair Removal Market Report” from April, said that almost half of men under the age of 55 reported having tried products personalized to their hair and skin type. They are not just urban hipsters though — they actually look more like suburban dads. The men’s grooming consumer is primarily 25 years old and older, earns more than $80,000 annually, and tends to be the head of the household for families of six or more.
“Among these men, given the global COVID pandemic, we are seeing accelerated trends that were already in motion before the pandemic, such as increased attention to self-care, a focus on the environment and shifts to online purchasing,” Zagozan said.
Whether it is due to quarantining or an extension of other trends, beard care is hotter than ever. Zagozan pointed to research from Spate that found online searches for beard trimmers grew 15% year over year, as did searches for beard clippers (+20.9%), beard shavers (+16.6%) and mustache trimmers (+16.3%). Zagozan said post-COVID, consumers will continue to show significant interest in DIY hair grooming solutions.
This demand for grooming products reflects a changing shopper.
The effect from COVID-19 went beyond just full-grown beards. “We are also seeing the hand hygiene habits of men become more rigorous, leading to the purchase of more hand soap, hand sanitizers and hand lotion,” Hedgepeth said.
The category will continue to evolve in the future. “The men’s grooming category is going to become much less gender-focused as consumers continue to respond more to skincare-first and ingredient-centric approaches, rather than the ‘for men’ marketing that has dominated the category for decades,” said Stan Ades, CEO and co-founder of Pacific Shaving Company. “I also believe that brands’ ethos and integrity will play an increasingly important role in consumers’ purchasing decisions. Future success in this category will require retailers to continue to make these aisles destinations by drawing customers in for new and innovative products.”