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It’s All About the Facial Hair: Trends in the Men’s Grooming

Contact Author Imogen Matthews
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Brands and retailers have traditionally treated the men’s grooming category as an afterthought to women’s beauty, but that has changed as men take more interest in their appearance. According to Datamonitor Consumer,* not only do 52% of global male consumers consider their looks and appearance to be either important or very important but 29% touch up their looks throughout the day. This percentage rises to 39% of young men aged 15–17, the future primary purchasers of grooming products.

In 2014, Datamonitor Consumer valued the global market for male toiletries at $22.2 billion, which grew by 3.6% on the previous year, and growth has come across all the primary subcategories: razors and blades, shaving preparations, and shaving aftercare. However, in the U.S., Procter & Gamble reported razor and shaving accessories sales of $3.7 billion in 2014, down 2% year on year, which coincides with the trend for facial hair. Part of the reason for the decline in sales might also be attributed to high prices for razors and replacement blades (see “Manscaping and Subscriptions: New Paradigms in Facial Hair,” beginning on Page 30). If men shave less often, or not at all, they can save considerable amounts of money, which can be a key consideration during times of austerity. The key to addressing this change in usage habits will be for brand owners to focus on aftercare add-on products designed to avoid nicks, ingrown hairs and other skin-related issues associated with shaving.

New Product Launches Growing

Despite worrying signs that the men’s grooming category is suffering, brand owners have, if anything, increased their commitment to innovation and new product launches. Over the past two years, the U.S. was the most active in terms of new product launches, accounting for 21% of global new men’s grooming products, according to Datamonitor Consumer’s Product Launch Analytics tool. The U.K. is another buoyant market, representing 17% of global new men’s launches during the same period.

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The range of products aimed at men is increasing all the time and reflects evolving consumer habits and a desire for more sophisticated products.

According to Datamonitor Consumer, there are two key user groups: men who use toiletries to help maintain good personal hygiene, health and wellbeing and a new breed of man who buys products with the sole intention of improving their physical appearance. This is giving rise to new categories, such as self-tan for men with products like the first natural tanner that contours the body. Anti-aging products for men are also on the rise, mirroring this long-standing trend in the women’s skin care category. A further sub-trend is for brands to launch several variants under the same brand, such as Nivea Men’s Originals, Active Age, Cooling, Sensitive, Skin Energy and Extra Comfort shaving and skin care options.

Facial Hair Becomes the Norm

The beard trend is not going unnoticed by men’s grooming brands, although most new beard-specific products are being launched by niche players. Datamonitor Consumer has documented the increase of beard grooming products from just eight in 2011 to 42 in 2014, signifying a move away from the “metrosexual” towards a “lumberjack” look, dubbed “lumbersexual.” Examples include the U.K. launches Billy Jealousy Beard Conditioner, The Bearded Man Co. Natural Beard Oil and Beardilizer Beard Nutritional Complex, which also sells in the U.S.

Even private label brands are keeping up with the trend for beards, with the launch of Balea Men’s 3 Day beard conditioning gel in Germany. Beard upkeep can be a simple task of finding a suitable oil to keep the beard moisturized and looking its best, and there are other opportunities here: beard cleansers and conditioners for full beard wearers and beard colorants for older men who want a beard but are embarrassed by the gray.

And some believe sporting a full beard will become rather passé, with moustaches to become the latest facial hair must-have. Murdock London, a chain of barbershops based in the hipster mecca of Shoreditch, London, has been witnessing the rise of moustaches amongst British gentlemen for some time. The trend has received a boost due to the popularity of the Movember campaign each November, when men are encouraged to grow a moustache for charity.

This latest trend opens up further opportunities for moustache-specific care products, including balms and waxes, to help the user keep their moustache in shape, tame stray hairs or create different styles. Examples include Bounder Extra Firm Moustache Wax, made from beeswax with the addition of Caribbean navy rum and vanilla extracts, and Stache Bomb Stache Wax, handmade in Portland, Maine, and featuring the manly smell of a freshly cut pine trees with beeswax to provide a firm hold.

Datamonitor Consumer predicts that the next frontier in men’s grooming products will be to target “menopausal” men in their 40s and 50s.

Traditionally ignored due to their lack of interest in grooming products, these older consumers lead active lifestyles and are more conscious about their appearance and health than earlier generations. Some niche brands have been quick off the mark to recognize the potential spending power of this demographic, such as Urth Skin Solutions for Men, a U.K. anti-aging shaving cream and hydrating treatment containing Asian herbs, pure essential oils, vitamins and phyto-nutrients with claims to offer a more youthful appearance by reducing surface lines and enhancing firmness.

There is still much at stake for personal care brands to innovative with products that claim to reduce and combat the signs of aging, and to make men feel more youthful, energetic and “manly.”

*Datamonitor Consumer will contribute two trends-based presentations at the 2015 in-cosmetics Marketing Trends presentations in Barcelona (April 14–16). Associate analyst Jamie Mills will reveal the latest data and insights on this evolving category.

Imogen Matthews is a consultant to in-cosmetics. For more information, contact www.imogenmatthews.co.uk.