Cutting it close

While the shaving category has had a few flat years, observers say new products should spur growth.

by Nora Caley

It is no fun to shave with a dull razor blade, but it seems as if that is what consumers have been doing for the past few years. According to the Chicago-based research firm Mintel, the shaving products category showed almost no sales growth in 2009 and 2010 and was expected to grow 4%  in 2011. The firm’s Shaving and Hair Removal Report, which was released last fall, indicated that growth in the estimated $2.1 billion category will be fueled by new product innovation.

The report also pointed to several trends that will help boost sales of shaving products in the food, drug and mass channel. Hairless skin is being promoted as a feature of youth and attractiveness for both men and women, especially among baby boomers who are staying in the shaving product market longer now. Teen girls are entering the shaving products market earlier than the demographic did a decade ago. Women are using shaving products until about age 65 and only a small percentage (14%) who use shaving and hair removal products have tried a professional hair removal service at a salon or spa in the last year.

Mary Ellen Lacasse, director of shaver marketing for BIC USA, says one consumer preference remains timeless. “Consumers are looking for the best shave possible at the right value,” she says. Additionally shoppers are looking for shavers with refillable cartridges, a segment that Mintel noted is gradually recovering. They also want a reasonable price. To satisfy these demands, Shelton, Conn.-based BIC introduced line extensions of two hybrid products. The products have one handle and four cartridges. After the consumer uses the fourth cartridge, they dispose of the shaver.

The men’s version is called Hybrid Advance 4 and the women’s version is called Soleil Savvy. “Soleil has a strong heritage,” Lacasse says. “We wanted to introduce the hybrid concept to women but we’re not using word hybrid because to women it sounded very masculine and a little technical. Instead it’s a savvy way to buy a shaver.”

Other new shaving products with replaceable cartridges include Gillette Venus & Olay. The razor, which the Cincinatti-based Procter & Gamble brand launched in March, features five blades and Olay Moisture Bars that release a lather of petrolatum (petroleum jelly) and glycerin. The shaver is packaged with one refill cartridge and there are also packages of three replacement cartridges.

Schick, a brand from Energizer Personal Care, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Energizer Holdings, offers Schick Intuition, which lathers and shaves. In April Schick announced the limited edition Playful Pom, Le Love and The Break designs for Schick Intuition razors.
Cartridge sales are up, according to the Chicago-based market research firm SymphonyIRI Group. For the 52 weeks ended April 15, sales of cartridges in food, drug and mass retailers excluding Walmart, totaled just over $825.1 million, up 2.82% compared to the same period the previous year.

The disposable category also saw growth. SymphonyIRI reports that sales of disposables totaled nearly $562.6 million, up 7.37% compared to the same period the previous year.

Charging ahead

SymphonyIRI does not measure sales of electric or rechargeable shavers, but Steven Yde, director of marketing for Wahl Clipper Corp., says consumers are willing to pay more for these types of shavers and that presents opportunities for grocery. The Sterling, Ill.-based company recently launched the Lithium Ion Three-in-One, a combination shaver, trimmer and detailer. Wahl had launched the product last year with the name Triple Play and then re-launched it under the new name in May.

The Lithium Ion Three-in-One features new packaging that is smaller and fits in the shaver display of most planograms. It is important for the package to be displayed face up and face forward, Yde says, because rechargeable shavers are often unplanned purchases. “The opportunity for grocery is you have a captive audience,” he says, adding that many men are due for a new shaver. “The shaver category did suffer during the recession and many people bought their shaver two or three years ago.”

Users of electric and rechargeable shavers will eventually have to buy new blades, a business model that Yde says other companies have benefited from for years. “Every year to 18 months consumers are required to buy a new set of foil heads because they dull over time,” he says. “The problem is, people say, ‘I spent 50 bucks and now they want 30 bucks for the blade replacement. I can buy a new shaver instead.’”

Yde says this type of planned obsolescence is wasteful and not sustainable, so Wahl Clipper is changing that model with the Lithium Ion Three-in-One. The consumer buys the shaver, then goes online to register. “That sets the clock,” Yde says. “Eighteen months later, they email us and we will ship out a new set of blades for the cost of shipping and handling.”

That way, the retailer can devote space to high margin items such as the rechargeable shavers, instead of low margin, slow moving items such as the blades, he says. The other benefit is that Wahl Clipper gains the consumer’s email address and builds a relationship, something that many deem essential in this age of bloggers, social media and other high tech opinions.

Online promotions

Other shaving products manufacturers have developed internet promotions to support the product launches. In April, Schick Intuition released results of its Simplicity Survey, which the brand had conducted with Wakefield Research. Among the findings: 71% of women said they have at least one girlfriend who needs to simplify her life; 60% of women wished they had more time to spend on their morning beauty routines; and 33% of women said when they are rushed in the morning, shaving is the first activity to be sacrificed.

After releasing these survey results, Schick Intuition launched The Simplicity Project, a promotion that encouraged women to visit the brand’s Facebook page and take the Simplicity quiz. The quiz would indicate whether the consumer is one of four “simplicity” personalities—Queen of Clutter, Last Minute Lady, Yes Ma’am or Miss Simplicity—and then receive customized tips from organizational expert Jill Pollack. Consumers can also download coupons for up to four dollars off Schick Intuition razors and refills after taking the quiz.

Venus & Olay also conducted an online survey. In September the brand commissioned Harris Interactive to survey women about their thoughts and perceptions about shaving and skincare. Among the findings: 84% said forgetting to shave would make them lose confidence fastest at the beach, a number that was higher than having a few extra pounds, cited by 62%.

In February, just before the launch of Venus & Olay in food, drug and mass retailers, the brand began a promotion as the Official Razor of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2012. The online promotion featured webisodes showing beauty secrets from swimsuit model Chrissy Teigen. Consumers were also encouraged to visit the brand’s Facebook page and “like” Venus & Olay for the opportunity to enter several giveaways.

BIC USA offered separate promotions for Hybrid Advance 4 and for Soleil Savvy.

On the men’s side, BIC sponsors the Tough Mudder endurance contests. “They are not races but a challenge with ten- to 12-mile endurance obstacle courses where consumers get the opportunity to jump into ice cold water, climb a half pipe without a rope and run through mud,” Lacasse says. “It’s a great way for us to reach our core consumers, who are truly real guys.” BIC’s advertising tagline is “Get Real. Get BIC.” BIC set up a booth at the events, where participants can get their heads shaved or get Mohawk haircuts. For every head shave or Mohawk, BIC donates $4 to the Wounded Warriors Foundation.

For the family of women’s shavers, BIC launched Follow the Sunshine, 100 days of daily sweepstakes from May to August. Consumers register online to win prizes ranging from sunglasses and beach accessories to a car. Soleil has promotional stickers on the packaging, to encourage women to enter the sweepstakes.

In addition to the Internet efforts, Wahl is supporting the Lithium Ion Three-in-One launch with television ads on ESPN, Spike and other networks. The company also has a 30-foot mobile barbershop that it takes to events.

In the inevitable event that consumers get a cut while shaving, industry observers say is important to merchandise solutions in this area. These are important items, says Larry Fishman, president of Majestic Drug, based in South Fallsburg, N.Y. “Consumers have a desire not to expose themselves to unsanitary styptic pencils, or the frustration of using toilet paper or tissues to stop the bleeding from a nick or minor cut,” he says. The personal care company offers KutKit Styps, which are individual, sanitary styptic swabs that instantly stop the bleeding.

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