Men on a mission to look good

Men are taking their grooming seriously and forward-thinking retailers are pulling out all the stops to help them polish their image.

Today, many men spend as much—or even more—time and effort getting ready for work or a date as the average woman.

As a result, the men’s grooming category has exploded. For the past few years it has been outpacing growth in the more mature women’s beauty category. Industry observers say opportunities abound for retailers that take the time to understand what men want and how they want it.

“Guys aren’t ashamed to admit it anymore that they are willing to buy products that make them look good and feel better about themselves,” says Brian Boye, fashion and grooming director for Men’s Health magazine, a Rodale publication. When it comes to how they look, for example, Boye says with the return of classic barbershop styles such as worn by David Beckham and John Hamm, interest in styling products such as waxes, pomades and gels is really heating up.

Retailers and manufacturers can take a role in educating men about proper grooming, say observers. “Unlike women, personal hygiene isn’t a topic most guys sit around and talk to each other about,” Boye says. “They learn about grooming by relying on magazines, product packaging and the like.”

What appeals to men are the quick, simple, affordable things they can do to create a great impression. Brands, Boye notes, are reacting by offering more choices. “On a global basis, men’s grooming was roughly a $30 billion category in 2010 and given that the category has been increasing an average of 10% each year this is definitely a business that is on the rise,” he says.

Increasingly, men are taking responsibility for grooming purchases, whether actually buying the items themselves or directing their girlfriend or wife to select something specific. “Men are playing a much more active role in the products they are buying and using,” says Boye.

He adds that men are often drawn to results-oriented words and familiar ingredients. They also like products that do what he calls “double duty.” One example is Beiersdorf’s introduction of Active3, a combination shower gel, moisturizing shampoo and foaming shave gel, to its Nivea For Men line. “The product tag line, ‘Get More Done in the Shower’ touches on men’s desires today to keep their grooming routines simple,” he says.

Do not be afraid of commitment

Steven Yde, director of marketing for Wahl Clipper Corp., based in Sterling, Ill., agrees that the opportunities are brimming for men’s grooming in grocery. He says to capture this lucrative market, grocers need to commit the space and assortment necessary if they want to be viewed as a destination. “The market continues to grow, but it can be a challenge for some retailers to stay on top of because the category can be very fragmented,” says Yde. Consumer preferences, he points out, are dynamic and are driven more from pop culture trends and fads than technology. “Those companies that can best marry technology to fit the dynamic needs will be most successful in the long run. Those that chase fads with re-positioned products will find it much more difficult,” he says.

Wahl has been offering men’s grooming products to the consumer market for nearly three decades and has spent years perfecting safe, quick and effective grooming tools. They were the first to offer a battery-operated facial hair trimmer. “The biggest gap we capitalized on in the last three years is the integration of technology into the category that was not just technology for technology sake, but offered real benefits to the consumer  such as more run time, faster charging, longer storage life and more power,” says Yde. Rather than the traditional cannibalization and down selling that had been occurring in the category, Yde says Wahl’s technology raised price-points and value while inviting more people into the category as the facial hair trend took off.

Man cave

It is very intimidating for most men to stand in a beauty aisle selecting products, say observers. Michael Norton, director of external relations, male grooming for Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble, says the company recently launched the “Guy Aisle” with exactly this in mind. Norton describes it as a dedicated area within the store designed to help men—and the women who shop for them—make better decisions regarding their male grooming product purchases. “The first thing this does is make it absolutely clear to the shopper they will find men’s products here,” says Norton.

In some retail locations, the “Guy Aisle” contains more than 580 male-oriented products, including blades and razors, face washes, shampoos and hair coloring.

Norton says when creating this concept aisle, it was essential to recognize that both men and women are important in the buying experience. It was also critical to make it quick and easy for shoppers to find products they are looking as well as find information at the shelf to help with their buying decision.

Regarding facial grooming products such as razors or trimmers, Wahl’s Yde says mass retailers might be surprised to learn that about 70% of the purchasers are men who are buying the items for themselves and much of the other 30% is gifts or purchases made by other household members.

While there is no denying that interest in men’s grooming products is there, Yde says the missing piece for grocery has always been the commitment to the category. “Impulse items are great, but they do not create, in the mind of the consumer, the understanding that grocery is a legitimate destination for small electric grooming appliances,” he says. “There is only one way to convince consumers that while they are in the grocery store they should check out the personal care isle for small electric grooming appliances, and that is to be in the category.”

For officials at Wahl, being in the category means dedicating a four-foot section to a range of products at various price-points. “This is a long-term commitment. Changing consumer behavior does not happen overnight,” says Yde. The other big question for grocers to ask themselves, he notes, is are they willing to commit the space for larger packaged products? “I think this is the biggest reason for hesitation with the category, because it is easier for them to justify carrying a small consumable than something that is larger and a durable good.”

Getting feedback

For officials at P&G, the inspiration for their grooming products always starts with focusing on consumer understanding and consumer need. For instance, when Gillette introduced ProGlide in 2010, the finished product was a result of years spent studying men’s shaving habits and preferences. In fact, Norton says more than 10,000 men tried the product before the first razor was sold. “Each year we spend hundreds of hours of research time talking to men. We listen to what they like and don’t like about products and they tell us what they value and are clear on areas where they won’t compromise,” says Norton. “The result? Men do trust our brands to deliver the benefit they are looking for at multiple price points across the male grooming category.”

Earlier this year, Gillette introduced the new Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler, a precision styling tool for men with facial hair. To address the needs of these men, P&G assembled a team of scientists from two world-leading grooming brands—Braun and Gillette—with the common goal of developing a precise 3-in-1 solution for men’s facial hair styling needs. According to company officials, Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler combines Braun’s trimming technology with Gillette’s most advanced blade technology helping men trim evenly, shave closely and edge accurately –so they can master their facial hair style with ease.

In addition, P&G brand Old Spice introduced a new scent, Danger Zone, which will be available in body spray, deodorant and body wash. Old Spice Red Zone also comes in After Hours, Aqua Reef, Pure Sport, Showtime and Swagger scents.

For Wahl, the biggest introduction in the past few months has been its new Lithium Ion Shaver / Trimmer and the Micro Groomsman Lithium Personal Trimmer. According to Yde, with their Shaver/Trimmer the company has taken a great rotary shaver and added a real trimmer with guide combs, plus a detail trimmer for complete grooming.

As for the Micro Groomsman Lithium, Yde says it is the first lithium battery included in micro personal trimmers. “The product features two heads rather than just the pen style reciprocating head; the second head being the traditional rotary trimmer in a compact form to make it easier and more comfortable for ear/nose grooming. With the included lithium battery, consumers will see years of use before needing to replace the battery,” he says.

While technology is very appealing to men when it comes to grooming products, experts point out that today’s guy is looking for the whole picture. He wants simple products that are effective and easy to use, but increasingly he also looks for qualities such as being environmentally friendly. In response to this, Schick, a division of Energizer, recently debuted the Xtreme3 Eco, the first disposable razor to use 100% recycled plastic in the production of its handle and 100% post-consumer paper in its packaging.

Manufactured and shipped out of the company’s 99.9% landfill-free facility in Milford, Conn., officials at Schick, based in Shelton, Conn., estimate by using recycled materials in the new razor they will be saving well over 100,000 pounds of virgin materials from going into landfills each year.

Schick Xtreme3 Eco will is available for both men and women nationally beginning in April. According to Suma Nagaraj, brand manager for Schick Xtreme3, the new product closely aligns with a shift toward companies leading the way in green manufacturing innovation. “We know that our consumers are looking for simple ways to help the environment,” says Nagaraj. “Our mission was to provide a more sustainable option without compromising on shave quality or value and that’s exactly what we achieved. In other words, this new razor provides the same great shave as our other Xtreme3 products for the same price, but now it’s better for the environment.”

Top trends to watch

Brian Boye, fashion and grooming director for Men’s Health, has been tracking grooming trends for more than a decade and says as much as the industry would like to think otherwise, when it comes down to it, most of the trends influencing men’s grooming today are the same trends the women’s beauty category saw years before. Nonetheless, Boye says these trends are set to impact the men’s grooming category this year and something retailers will want to pay close attention to. He offers the following new wrinkles in men’s grooming products:

  • Anti-aging­­: Anti-wrinkle, firming, age correcting, revitalizing are all new descriptors on men’s products. The old mindset was men with grey hair were suave, but times have changed and men today are held to a different standard.There are now a number of eye creams and rollers to help guys target the area that shows signs of aging first. Boye says top brands playing in this area include Nivea for Men products with Q10, L’Oreal Men’s Expert Vita-Lift, Neutrogena Men Age-Fighter, Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Transformer Age Correcting Moisture-Gel for Men, Jack Black Protein Booster Skin Serum from their new anti-aging line Rx Series and Lab Series Max LS. “We’re also seeing a number of skin peel products entering the market,” he says.
  • Skin specific­­: There is a big push this year for skin-type-specific products. Boye says as guys get smarter about skin care, they are looking for products that are developed for skin types and conditions such as oily, sensitive, dry, aging and acne. Neutrogena Men, Lab Series, Nivea for Men and Anthony Logistics have products that address many of these concerns, says Boye.
  • Facial hair/shave tools­­: Men are experimenting with facial hair and Boye says brands are responding with products that address their needs. Wahl has been one of the leaders in this category for years and has been innovating with technologically advanced products.

Boye cites other brands such as the new Gillette ProGlide Styler that combines both a power razor and a beard trimmer in one device and Conair’s I-stubble, a digitally controlled beard trimmer. He says Philips Norelco and Remington are also top brands to watch.

  • Double duty­­: Products that accomplish multiple things at once are very appealing to men, notes Boye, adding that active words such as “triple-protect” or “3-in-1” show up on labels more than ever now.

Some examples of leading brands in this area include Nivea for Men Double Action Balm  2 in 1 after shave and moisturizer, Jack Black Turbo Wash hair and body, Lab Series 3-in-1 Post Shave, Gillette Fusion Pro Series Instant Hydration UV Moisturizer, a 3-in-1 after shave, SPF and moisturizer and Dove Men + Care Body and Face Wash.

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