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The Sleeping Giant

By: Imogen Matthews
Posted: February 1, 2012, from the January 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Competition in men’s toiletries is intense between the leading players Gillette, Nivea for Men and L’Oréal, making it hard for new entrants to make their mark. An exception has been King of Shaves, a U.K. brand that launched in 1993 and has taken on the big players in shaving products to expand into a global brand.

“We have doubled our U.S. sales year-on-year, and they are now growing at the same rate as in the U.K.,” says Will King,* founder and chief executive of King of Shaves. “And in 2012, we expect the sales in the U.S. to be twice as big as they are today. Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Africa are important, yet smaller markets for us, and in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, we are making good progress.”

King of Shaves has also taken on Gillette and Wilkinson Sword in the men’s razors segment, which King points out is a tough place to survive in, let alone thrive. “In addition, beards/groomed facial hair (designer stubble) continue to be in vogue,” King says. “This may, in part, be ascribed to celebrity influence and the fact we live in tough economic times with men perhaps adapting a ‘tough, caveman-fighting’ aesthetic.”

[Editor’s note: Read “Mintel Report Shows Shifting Facial Hair Attitudes.”]

In 2011, King of Shaves began working with Remington, a leading U.S. men’s electric grooming brand. Wet shave products now carry Remington and King of Shaves branding and are sold in 25,000 stores—including Walgreens, CVS/pharmacy, Target and Duane Reade. “The USA is a challenging environment to do business in, given our two principal wet shave competitors are U.S.-owned, but our Azor 5, which is fair-priced in an overpriced market, is doing well,” says King.

Obstacles to Growth