CPG

One-on-One With Cremo CEO Matthew Biggins

Upstart HBC leader discusses trends behind the men's grooming boom
Matthew Biggins
Illustration by Olivier Balez

Matthew Biggins is CEO and president of Cremo Co., the Laguna Beach, Calif.-based grooming products brand. 

Jon Springer: Welcome to the Breakroom, Matthew. There’s lots of evidence that the men’s grooming industry is really taking off. What’s happening out there?

Matthew Biggins: Personal grooming has evolved for men—it is no longer just about staying clean. Men not only want to smell good, but look good and feel good, too. Men also expect more from their grooming products. They see grooming as a way to express their personality. For many, grooming helps to boost confidence. And of course, the internet has played a huge part in the growth too. [With] unprecedented access to so many kinds of grooming products, tutorials, plus an influx of images, men are seeing greater options, products and styles than ever before. Studies also show that men today will research grooming products online before purchasing at retail. So there is more knowledge around purchases. All of that, combined with the emergence of lifestyle influencers, has led to the boom in the industry.

It seems like there have been many brands over the years that would like to inherit the shaving market from the Barbasols of our dad’s medicine cabinet, but so many attempts have fallen short. Why is that?

Cremo launched in 2005 with a single product—shaving cream—as our company founder was on a mission to create the absolute best shaving cream possible: an astonishingly superior product that not only worked great but would be accessible to everyone. No other shaving cream on the market could perform to his higher-than-average standards, and Cremo was born from that mission. Today, Cremo offers complete grooming for gentlemen, and we do so with that same emphasis on performance, quality and detail.

You have a background in big CPG and joined Cremo in 2015. What attracted you to the opportunity, and how has experience marketing Nestle Crunch been useful in your role today?

When I was managing large brands at Nestle, my marketing budget was five times larger than the entire revenue of Cremo when I started. Back then, Cremo had little to no resources. My colleagues thought I was crazy to leave for a business that, at the time, had just one product. But I saw so much potential for growth and innovation and brought to the role my experiences in building brand loyalty, successful product extensions and retail partnerships. From a professional standpoint, joining Cremo was by far and away the best decision I have ever made. While Cremo has grown significantly in the last few years, we are still the small guy, and we continue to innovate.

What should a supermarket operator know about how to sell Cremo?

We have seen retail success at supermarkets that focus on driving traffic and building shopper loyalty in new ways. Some are selling more by elevating the customer’s experience, whether it’s in-store with a dedicated display on men’s grooming or providing new ways consumers can learn more about grooming. When it comes to selling Cremo, we know most men will have a favorite scent of shave cream and then look for that same scent in our body wash or shampoo. So we do see the value in honing the right assortment. Having the right mix of product innovation has helped in selling more.

How has COVID-19 impacted men’s grooming?

When the pandemic began, we saw an increase in traffic to the Cremo website and grooming purchases online. This isn’t the typical season for beards, but with more men at home growing and maintaining beards, our overall beard care sales went up. Our body wash for men is also performing well. And without trips to the salon, more women are shaving at home. Thus, our women’s shave cream continues to do very well. But the emerging star is our new Hair & Beard Dye “no mix, no mess” coloring kits, now at CVS and Walmart, with more folks also coloring at home.

Lightning Round

Settle this once and for all: Is it Creem-oh, Cray-mo, or Creh-mo? Third time’s the charm—it’s pronounced Creh-mo. Some folks say it sounds like an Italian brand. But we’re born and raised in the USA.

Has anyone ever remarked to you that the “subtle citrus scent” on your original shave cream is evocative of child’s chewable aspirin? Was that intentional? That’s a first! I’ll have to make a comparison. But no, definitely not our intention. Our team of scent experts will get a kick out of that.

Coolest place to shop for food in Laguna Beach? Pavillions and Ralphs are solid go-tos. Everything is elevated in Laguna Beach, so there are lots of cool places to shop.

Which Van Halen singer was the best? David Lee Roth. Like Cremo, much more interesting, more effective in performance!

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