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Movers and Shakers in Men’s Grooming

By: Nicole Tyrimou, Euromonitor International
Posted: October 31, 2013, from the November 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

While men’s grooming is attracting more headlines than ever before, the category still made up only 8% of the overall beauty and personal care market in 2012, with sales of $34 billion, according to Euromonitor International. Thanks to good media coverage, wider adoption of male-specific products and greater availability, strong growth of more than 7% in 2012 has kept the category one to watch for industry players.

The biggest story in men’s grooming in 2012 was the fact that men’s toiletries caught up with men’s shaving, with sales of the former expected to surpass those of the latter for the first time in 2013. While, in percentage terms, men’s skin care is the fastest growing category within men’s grooming, it remains too small to have a significant impact, with sales largely concentrated in Asia-Pacific. Regardless of its weak penetration, however, the category offers strong potential, with an increasing number of men using male-specific products to take care of their skin.

The focus, as of now though, remains on the two key categories of razors and blades and men’s deodorants, which accounted for two-thirds of total men’s grooming revenue in 2012.

Sharp Presence in Men’s Grooming

Traditionally, razors and blades has been the dominant category within men’s grooming, contributing nearly 40% of total men’s grooming revenue in 2012 and growing by 8% globally the same year. Still, the category is undergoing a period of transition, with both growth rates and sales slowing in Western Europe and North America, partly due to the ongoing stubble trend on the one hand and the rising cost of shaving on the other. In addition, disposables have been gaining share, with Gillette’s Bic enjoying double-digit gains in the U.S. on the back of its latest innovation (a three-blade razor disposable system, the Bic Hybrid Advance) and “value for your money” advertising campaigns. However, men’s razors and blades continue to benefit most from emerging markets like Russia, India and, of course, Brazil, with the latter posting double-digit growth in men’s shaving sales.

With this in mind, men’s shaving remains an area of interest for companies looking to expand their portfolios in spite of Gillette’s dominance, with the company commanding more than a 50% share of the category globally, thus acting as a significant barrier to entry.

Everybody Wants a Piece of the Cake

Both Unilever’s Axe and Dove brands have been extended into men’s shaving. Axe has collaborated with both Schick and Philips Norelco to introduce triple-blade razors in refills, as well as disposable options and an electric range with interchangeable heads that can trim, style and shave. It has also introduced a shaving gel and a hydrator that acts as a 2-in-1 post-shave gel and moisturizer, aiming to tap into the growing convenience trend.

Also, following its success in deodorants and body wash/shower gel, Unilever has continued Dove Men + Care’s expansion in men’s grooming beyond hair care, recently introducing a range of shaving products that include shaving gels and post-shave options.

Synergies Between Men’s Shaving and Deodorants

Men’s deodorants remained the second biggest category within men’s grooming in 2012 with sales of more than $8 billion, also achieving the same 8% rate of growth as men’s razors and blades. What’s more, both categories are experiencing an upsurge thanks to Latin America, which is both the largest and the fastest growing market for the categories. Moreover, both categories are facing the same geographical expansion difficulties in Asia-Pacific due to cultural differences. Finally, both categories have also managed to hold steady in North America and Western Europe due to consumers viewing them as necessities, but at the same time, they are also facing pricing issues, with heavy discounting and promotions driving sales particularly in Southern Europe.

However, unlike brands in razors and blades, which have remained predominantly in the men’s shaving category, deodorants have followed a different approach. Over the past five years, deodorant brands have increasingly aligned themselves with fragrances, launching body spray versions of their most popular scents and even bringing in famous perfumers to formulate the scents.

As competition with mass fragrances has intensified, men’s deodorant brands have been extended into men’s bath and shower and hair care, with examples including the recent introduction of Axe Apollo, which consists of a body spray, deodorant stick, and shampoo and shower gel.

If They Can Do It, Why Can’t We?

The extension of deodorant brands into men’s shaving can be seen as a natural progression in providing a more complete regime for their male consumers. The similar geographic strengths of the two categories provide deodorant brands with the advantage of strong brand image and high recognition in men’s shaving’s strongest geographic areas—as well as a large existing consumer base and, in some cases, favorable retail deals.

Is there a lesson to be learned for shaving brands? With Axe ranking higher and higher in men’s hair care, bath and shower, and post-shave across the world, having a strong brand that male consumers like and trust is clearly paying off. Men’s shaving brands like Gillette and Schick have been searching for new ways to find a competitive edge via the introduction of 3-in-1 shaving systems and clear shaving gels, with Gillette also filing a body shaving patent. Perhaps exploring the option of transferring their strong brand image to men’s toiletries is becoming increasingly necessary.

Nicole Tyrimou is a Euromonitor International beauty and personal care analyst.