Keeping up appearances
By Carol Radice
Today's men are looking for real benefits and features when it comes to personal care. Back in the day men had about four items in the medicine cabinet—a can of deodorant, shaving cream, a disposable razor and maybe some aftershave given to them as a gift. How times have changed. Now it is not uncommon for men to commandeer at least half the medicine cabinet. Supermarket shelves are stocked with a variety of personal care items ranging from facial creams, body sprays and body washes to personal grooming tools such as trimmers and razors as well as a series of hair products to meet these needs. Industry observers say today’s man is bold and not afraid to mix things up a bit in the grooming area, going from long hair to short hair and changing styles on a whim. Facial hair is a prime example. “The cultural acceptance of having scruff is making shaving the face optional for many guys,” says Steve Yde, director of marketing for Wahl Clipper Corp., based in Sterling, Ill. “It is a sign that men do not want to be a cookie cutter fashion statement and outward individual expression appears to be as important as inward.” For retailers, men’s grooming needs are anything but stagnant and boring. In today’s shaving market men have two fundamental needs that are driving the market, offering a glimpse as to where the market could go in the future, say observers. “To begin with, men are looking for that timeless clean, close, irritation-free shave,” says Matthew Rader, director of marketing–men’s shaving systems for Energizer Personal Care, based in Shelton, Conn., maker of Schick, Wilkinson and Edge shaving products. “This is still regarded as one of, if not the most fundamental unmet need men say they crave from their shaving experience.” He also says men are seeking higher order of skincare benefits that can be delivered during the shaving routine. “Men are engaged in their skincare choices,” he says. “They want to know if the product is delivering moisture, vitamins or other good-for-the-skin ingredients that benefit the look and feel of the skin when the shaving experience is over.” Rob Candelino, vice president of skincare marketing at Unilever, based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., says the company uses a combination of research and consumer insights to anticipate consumers’ needs and creates products to meet them. “With Dove Men+Care, for instance, we found that the number one skincare concern for men is dryness. From this we developed Dove Men+Care body wash products to fight skin dryness,” says Candelino. The Dove Men+Care brand launched a full skincare line to help men care for their faces. Candelino says Dove Men+Care Face includes products across four grooming categories: cleansing, shave, post-shave and face care, all designed to care for men’s skin in three easy steps. Observers say consumers seem very eager to trade up if they feel doing so offers them a better experience. As a result there is a lot of pressure on suppliers to develop new products. “There is no question that men love the latest and greatest regardless of the category,” says Yde, adding that they are not impractical either. “They are driven by features such as performance, power, run time and precision. That is our key focus.” Technological advances have played a role in Wahl’s product development. One of Wahl’s recent launches is its Quick Style Lithium Trimmer. “Its small footprint and versatility make it a great companion for our market leading Micro Groomsman Lithium,” says Yde. “Innovation is not about changing consumer habits, but making the experience faster, easier and more fulfilling. Consumers quickly learn the bigger the grooming project the better the tool they need.” According to officials at Energizer Personal Care, the inspiration for innovation resides in their ability to know and understand the consumers’ wants and needs. Rader says each year the company delves deep into the consumer mindset and grooming routine habits in order to mine the appropriate insights. These insights are what led them to a grooming vision of “There’s An Art To Being A Guy.” Rader says this places consumers firmly in the catalyst’s seat for driving innovation across product and merchandising. “Guys want innovation, but they want value at every tier of the innovation stream within grooming,” he says. “Offering an appropriate trade-up ladder within grooming, you can provide them with the right assortment and variety to foster and facilitate movement as they evolve along the masculinity continuum.” With that in mind, the company recently launched Schick Hydro 5 Groomer, an all-in-one tool designed for any grooming style. “With the rising popularity of facial hair as a modern accessory, many men look for specialized tools to maintain their personal style,” say Rader. The Schick Hydro 5 Groomer features the innovations of the Schick Hydro 5 razor on one end and an adjustable built-in trimmer on the other, designed to deliver a simplified shave routine that does not involve attachments that could get lost or broken. Shaving is no longer limited to just the face. Industry research suggests that nearly 75% of men shave or trim their body. To meet the growing trend toward body shaving, Procter & Gamble, based in Cincinnati, recently launched Gillette Body, a line of products specifically created to address shaving needs for the male physique. Aaron Paas, Gillette’s North American brand manager, says with Gillette Body, men now have a more exact and easy way to manscape, particularly when it comes to grooming areas below their face and neck. Features include a rounded head for increased comfort and movability, three floating blades and lubricating strips, an ergonomic handle grip and a forward pivoting head. With so many SKU’s and a finite amount of space, men’s grooming can be a challenging category to merchandise in grocery. “Space constraints sometimes mean grocers have room for just a few items,” says Wahl’s Yde. “In these cases our Micro Groomsman Lithium Personal Trimmer covers many of the bases. These same retailers have a difficult time committing to more not because they don’t want to but due to space issues.” This evolutionary period in men’s grooming means retailers must be willing to adjust to this dynamic shift. Rader says H-E-B is what would be identified as the gold standard when it comes to merchandising and being progressive when thinking of men’s grooming. “Their Men’s Zone concept is a radical departure from what one would see in a normal grocery format, but it hits deftly at the insight that shaving and grooming are the gateway to the shopping experience for guys,” he says. Grooming guidance, online The economic recession has spurred many purchasing changes and spending cutbacks over the years. Recent trends in personal care, specifically hair maintenance, are perfect example. For instance, Industry observers say more than eight out of 10 home haircuts are performed on men. This has not gone unnoticed by manufacturers, many of which are turning away from lifestyle magazines to the Internet to offer men a tutorial. Wahl Clipper Corp. recently launched a website completely dedicated to men’s grooming. Steve Yde, director of marketing for the Sterling, Ill.-based company says Wahl created a website “for real guys looking for a complete resource of new hair and facial hair styles.” The online resource, www.wahlgrooming.com, features a library of styles, how-to instructional videos and tips designed to help guys find, achieve and maintain a variety of looks. “There’s no denying the progression that men’s grooming has taken over the years and at Wahl we are changing with it,” says Yde. “Grooming is no longer just about the face. The growing interest in multi-purpose grooming devices and hair clippers suggests guys are now thinking bigger picture when it comes to keeping up appearances,” he says. Officials at Beiersdorf USA, maker of Nivea For Men, had a similar idea about teaching men about personal care when they launched www.niveamenusa.com. The website features information about the Nivea for Men line as well as grooming guides and answers to frequently asked grooming questions. For instance, men can learn the ins and outs of head-to-toe personal care from shaving, moisturizing and sweat to body odor, manscaping and more. A company official for the Wilton, Conn.-based company says several years ago they created the Nivea for Men line to offer specially formulated, dermatologically tested skin care, shaving and grooming options specifically designed for men. Procter & Gamble’s Gillette brand has also designed its website, www.Gillette.com, to offer men in-depth information on its grooming products as well as style suggestions, entertainment and promotions. The site provides education on styling, how to shave correctly, a grooming guide and an extensive library of styles for reference. Officials for the Cincinnati-based company say that while some subjects such as body styling can be a bit sensitive to discuss, they tackled the subject in a lighthearted way by featuring a video of famous women chatting about what they like to see in a guy’s appearance and the message a well-groomed guy sends.