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Men Say “I Do” to Grooming

Manufacturers of men’s grooming products say they are keeping up with trends and developing items that appeal to various demographics and age groups.
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There is more to men’s grooming than just shaving.According to Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group’s 2015 Men’s Grooming Consumer Report, 80 percent of men use grooming products. The report indicated that among men age 18-plus, 69 percent use hair care products, 54 percent use shaving products, 49 percent use body skincare products and 22 percent use facial skincare products. Millennials are more likely than other age groups to use skincare products, and are generally more enthusiastic about the grooming category. Meanwhile, older consumers say they can be encouraged to buy products if they get samples or trial sizes.  

That means there are opportunities for manufacturers of men’s grooming products. The key is to offer items that keep up with the trends. 

“As men increasingly pay attention to personal care, men’s brands and retailers must ensure we offer what they’re seeking—a comprehensive range of products specifically designed for men,” says Matthew McCarthy, senior director of men’s grooming for Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based Unilever. “The grooming category has moved well beyond just face shaving. We’re now talking personal care—hair care and styling, skin care, deodorant and more. Guys are developing a full head-to-toe regimen that helps them look, smell, and most importantly, feel good.” 

Unilever has responded with several products. For example, McCarthy says, men’s skin is oilier than women’s and tends to have larger pores that clog with dirt and oil more easily. With this in mind, the company’s Dove Men+Care Oil Control Body Wash, which is made with Kaolin clay, helps cleanse skin and effectively remove oil and dirt without over drying. Unilever also recently launched Dove Men+Care Complete Care Fortifying Shampoo + Conditioner, and overhauled its AXE hair styling products. Last year, the company launched Dry Spray Antiperspirants, which continue to be popular across the Degree, Dove Men+Care and AXE brands. New products in 2016 will mirror trends in fragrance and underarm care.

McCarthy adds that the men’s grooming category will continue to see strong growth as men increasingly pay attention to personal care. “This is due in large part to the seismic cultural shifts we’re seeing in modern masculinity, which are challenging the very notion of what it means to be a man,” he says. “As men increasingly decide on their own personal care products, they have come to expect ones that address their specific needs. They also look for availability in retailers where they feel comfortable shopping.”

Among men’s specific needs are products that save time and offer multiple benefits, says Carmina Mio, go to market manager for Nivea, a brand of Beiersdorf, a Hamburg, Germany-based company with U.S. headquarters in Wilton, Conn. “We know that men are seeking simple, straightforward grooming solutions,” she says. The brand recently launched Nivea Men Multi-purpose Moisturizing Creme, which features a super-fast absorbing, non-greasy formula. 

Men also want the selection to be easy to shop, and grocery retailers can benefit if they set up the section in a way that appeals to these shoppers. The stores can benefit from attracting these valuable shoppers, Mio says, because consumers who buy their personal care products in this channel have nearly double the average basket size. 

“It is important to disrupt the shopper along their normal path and make selection simple,” says Mio. “Nearly half of men would like to see all of their personal care items shelved in one aisle, speaking to the simplicity they are seeking not only in their routine, but also their shopping experience.”

Mio says that another trend is the growing popularity of the three-day beard look, which will demand continued innovation among products that moisturize a man’s skin and soften facial hair. 

The beard trend is driving several innovations in men’s grooming products. Wahl Clipper Corp., based in Sterling, Ill., recently launched the All in One Rechargeable Groomer. The product has beard combs, a nose hair trimmer, a full shaver and other accessories to answer various needs, especially for middle aged and older men. “Baby Boomers are saying, ‘I shaved my whole life, now I’m going to relax and try that goatee or that beard,’” says Steve Yde, divisional vice president of marketing for Wahl. “We find people in their 50s, 60s and 70s experimenting with facial hair and taking it seriously. There is no reason not to, even if the beard is a little gray.”  

When Baby Boomers try this self-expression through grooming, they might look to Wahl because their barber uses the brand, says Yde.  The All in One has a suggested retail price of $20-$25, and he says the item is seeing success while not negatively affecting sales of higher priced Wahl items. Even younger users are trying the product. “For the 15-year-olds it’s an inexpensive way to get a Wahl product,” says Yde. “It could be Generation Z’s first shaver, a small shaver for peach fuzz.” 

Millennials, specifically the lumbersexuals, are another important demographic. For those consumers, Wahl is launching the Lithium Ion Total Beard. The product can trim beards that range from 1/8- to one-inch. “You think one inch isn’t that much, but if you let your beard grow one-inch you will look like Grizzly Adams,” says Yde. “If want to trim your chin, you can.” 

Total Beard has a three hour run time, which Yde says means that although no one is really going to take three hours to shave, they are reassured that the device will stay charged when needed. It also has a grip with a texture similar to bicycle handlebar grips, another detail that resonates well with hipsters. “The lumbersexuals are everywhere,” says Yde. 

The young consumers do present a challenge because they do not shop the way their Baby Boomer parents did, say industry observers. In addition to the usual competition from other brick-and-mortar retailers, not to mention online sales, there are new subscription services, in which consumers pay to have a box of shaving-related products sent to them regularly. According to Chicago-based Mintel, 50 percent of men age 18-34 who use shaving products report an interest in subscription services, as well as 40 percent of men overall. Additionally, 26 percent of men have not tried a subscription service but are interested in doing so. That means more brands will likely enter the space, according to Mintel. 

Manufacturers have noticed this phenomenon. “As any company, we have been carefully watching the trends in men’s grooming,” says Howard Brauner, vice president of product development for Universal Beauty Products, based in Glendale Heights, Ill. “We spotted a downward curve in men’s shaving that when combined with the impact of online retailers like harrys.com and dollarshaveclub.com, have had a negative impact on the overall shave category.” 

At the same time, another Generation Y trend is emerging, one that is positive for the category. “Younger men, especially those between 18 and 35, are very particular about using natural and organic products as they are aware of their health benefits and positive effect on human skin and hair,” says Brauner. “We felt there was a great opportunity to serve these customers and responded to their needs with pure, natural and organic products of the highest quality that they can use to care for, soften and train their facial hair.” 

Universal Beauty Products launched the Beard Guyz brand of men’s products for total beard care. The line consists of Daily Wash 35, Conditioner 25, two Beard Balm 25s (one for coarse and one for fine/medium) and Beard Oil 25. The numbers refer to the number of all-natural and organic ingredients in each item. 

“Our researchers, with many years of experience, have created exceptional products that make the skin and hair look and feel healthy and beautiful,” says Brauner. “They have studied the effects of every single ingredient and blended them into perfectly balanced products that are designed for today’s demanding consumers, and satisfy their need for natural products as well.” 

Beard Guyz products have had positive response in the few months since their launch. The items come in conveniently sized bottles to make trimming, shaping and caring for a beard somewhat easier. “We believe that shaping, softening and training one’s beard should not be a dreaded ordeal but an enjoyable part of a daily grooming routine,” says Brauner.  

Another new entrant to the category is ManCave, which is based in the U.K. and has a U.S. location in Piscataway N.J. ManCave offers a line of natural hair, bath and body products for men. The products have retail prices ranging from $8.50 to $18, and have no outer packaging. “Nothing comes in a box,” says David Tillman, managing director of ManCave USA. “What you see on the counter is what you use in your bath.” 

Tillman says the product has been well received so far, and it helps that the name resonates with people. “Everyone seems to love the name,” he says. “Everyone has in mind what their ideal location is of a man cave and what it indicates. We always get a smile on people’s faces.” 

Consumers that buy ManCave FaceWash, Shower Gel, Face Scrub and other products range from teens to men in their 50s. The younger men are especially interested, Tillman says, because they want to try products other than the legacy brands that they might have used because their older male relatives recommended them. Women also shop for men’s products, Tillman says, because they are buying natural and organic products for themselves, and are seeking similar items for the men in their households. 

Some retailers are keeping up with the trend. Natural foods stores have seen success, notes Tillman, as men pick up natural grooming products when they shop for protein bars and other healthful items. Other retailers are updating their sections. “More and more grocery chains have begun to put up natural grooming areas,” he adds. “Where we have had the most success is in stores that are merchandising natural, whether ladies or men’s, separately on the shelf.” 

It makes sense for grocery to adapt, he says. “You look at grocery, and more and more men are in there doing the shopping, whether for themselves for their families,” he says. “Men’s grooming as a category, of all the categories in beauty, first of all it’s the smallest, and second it’s the one that’s growing the fastest.”

ManCave plans to launch beard care items in the second half of 2016. The brand will also redesign the product tubes, making them all brown instead of brown and black, and adding text in French and Spanish.     

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