Media, Euro influence drive growth, help men’s grooming carve solid niche

Antoinette Alexander

In recent years, American men increasingly have shown that they are not afraid to exfoliate, wax, moisturize, style their hair or experiment with products like body spray in an effort to look and smell their best. And several indicators, such as new product development and consumer demographics, strongly suggest that the growth in men’s grooming is not just a fad, but is here to stay.

“Guys are certainly getting more demanding, and we take our cue from them,” said Brent Miller, a spokesman for Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice, a leader in men’s antiperspirant/deodorant. “There is a lot of room for growth, especially in the United States. [Men’s grooming] is a category that is really starting to explode.”

What is the catalyst behind the surge in men’s grooming products, an area that, at one time, men steered clear of for fear of being perceived as feminine? According to industry observers, some of the key drivers are the media and the European influence seeping into the United States.

Media’s influence on men, which can be tracked back to the emergence of MTV, has only intensified as men’s magazines increasingly tout grooming tips and as makeover shows hammer home the message that men need to look their best to get ahead.

Europe has influenced men’s grooming significantly in the United States as Europeans use their experience with men’s grooming abroad to back the introduction of European brands in the United States, a move that has proved successful for Unilever.

Unilever’s Axe brand has played successfully on younger men’s fantasies about sex and currently owns 84 percent of the body spray segment, according to Jim Geikie, Unilever director of customer marketing for antiperspirant/deodorant. Based on Information Resources Inc. data, Axe garnered $18.3 million in sales for the 52 weeks ended July 11.

Of course, what makes Axe different is its message to the male consumer. Unilever is trying to sell a lot more than just odor protection, namely “an edge in the dating game,” Geikie said. “We test all of our fragrances with girls to ensure that they love the way the scents smell on a guy.”

Axe’s success also can be attributed to retailers’ Willingness to partner with Unilever on innovative in-store merchandising and getting the product outside of the health and beauty aisle and into areas of the store where guys shop, Geikie noted. One such retailer is Brooks Pharmacy, which in one store positioned its men’s grooming products, including Axe, in e same aisle as magazines and electronics.

Meanwhile, U.K.-based King of Shaves continues to tackle the U.S. men s grooming market and to educate the American man on beautification*

“The men’s market is growing, and it is driving innovation. It is here to stay, without a doubt,” said King of Shaves founder Will King.

King of Shaves introduced its XCD line to CVS stores in December through an exclusive deal and also offers its King of Shaves products in about 18,000 other drug retailers throughout the United States, including Walgreens and Duane Reade. Next month, XCD Primer, a pre-shave exfoliating face wash for all skin types, will join the XCD lineup at CVS, retailing for $15. In early 2005, King of Shaves MagnaGel, a magnetic shaving gel, will-hit retailers for a suggested retail price of $5.99 to $7.99.

Then there’s Germany’s Beiersdorf, which unveiled its Nivea for Men skin care line a few years ago and since has expanded the line with Nivea for Men Revitalizing Lotion Q10 and, most recently, Nivea for Men Oil Control Face Wash and Oil Control Lotion. The Oil Control products, which cater to younger men with oily skin, hit retail shelves earlier this year at a price of $5.99 each.

Seeing even more room for growth in the men’s grooming segment, Catherine Lair, director of marketing for Nivea for Men, said more products are in development, but she declined to provide further details at press time.

Drug chains continue to benefit from the upsurge in men’s grooming products, as there has been a shift away from the prestige market to food, drug and mass. That has equated to great success by mass marketed brands, which have leveraged their reputations and tailored their message to American men. For example, Neutrogena launched in spring 2004 its Triple Protect Face Lotion and Gel for men; Old Spice has introduced its High Endurance and, more recently, Red Zone Body Spray; Gillette Co. made headlines with its M3Power razor and Complete Skincare line; and Energizer Holdings looked to cut the competition with its Schick Quattro razor.

Aside from large mass marketers, some smaller, niche manufacturers, such as Waitsfield, Vt.-based Canus, also are looking to tap into the growing category. According to Canus president Andree Falardeau, the maker of goat’s milk-based soap and skin care products will-launch a men’s shaving lotion in spring 2005. The retail price for Canus Goat’s Milk Shaving Lotion was not available at press time.

So what does the future hold for men’s grooming? The consensus is that the market is not only here to stay, but its full potential has not been realized yet. According to market researchers Mintel Group, the men’s toiletries segment is estimated to grow at an annual rate of 4.5 percent to 5 percent through 2008. Such growth would take food/drug/mass sales of men’s toiletries from $1.30 billion to $1.64 billion by 2008.

One key factor in Mintel’s projection for the men’s toiletries segment is that age demographics will be much more positive for the industry through 2008. The age group that buys the widest range of grooming products and perceives grooming as basic upkeep are 15- to 34-year-olds, according to Mintel, and that age group is expected to grow 4.2 percent, or 1.6 million, by 2008.

The grooming habits that those young men have developed likely will stick with them as they grow older, representing continued opportunities in the years ahead.

“There are a lot of teenagers coming up, and if we could develop products for the young man and the teens at a price point that is acceptable, then that is the way to go,” said Ed Marlowe, president and chief executive officer of NFG Stuff.

NFG, or Not for Girls, is a line of hair care products designed for guys by guys. The two formulas–NFG Shampoo and NFG Gel–currently are sold in college bookstores, select music retailers and skate and surf shops. In the spring, NFG plans to bring the products, in addition to two new undisclosed formulas, to the mass market. NFG products have a suggested retail price of $6.99.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Reproduced with permission of the copyright holder. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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