Good looks opportunity

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These are unusual times. The threat of global recession has taken its toll on various markets within this industry and others. But retailers need to prepare for the return of the good times.
Total personal appliances as a sector is down year-on-year to the end of August by 3.6% in volume and 1.4% in value (source: Carmen/GfK). As usual, a lower fall in value takes the edge off the bad news, meaning products are going some way to retaining their price levels. Haircare has seen that trend reversed though – with a more or less static volume performance year-on-year (0.4%) but down nearly 3% in value. In August, the situation was stark – down 5.5% in volume and 3.1% in value.
Mary Boyle, product manager for Carmen and Andrew Collinge brands, says haircare is not performing well at all, but this is no doubt due to the current economic climate. “August ‘08 is the fourth consecutive month where we have experienced month-on-month decreases of sales in total haircare,” she says. “All categories, with the exception of tongs, hot air stylers and crimpers, are down month-on-month. This can be contributed to the major credit crunch that we are experiencing in the market at the moment.”
For him
Male grooming in particular has been a solid performer over many years and as trends change, so do the products and so does the end user. With figures suggesting four out of ten young men now grow facial hair, to emulate the stars of the sports field or the screen, there will still be a need for shavers and clippers to create those styles. Nearly half of all men apparently style their facial hair in some way and before the current downturn, sales did underline this. Key drivers were beard trimmers and nose/ear trimmers.
The pursuit of technology continues though. Panasonic has launched the ES-8249 with a four-blade system designed to give a close shave and claimed to be 30% quicker and more efficient than a triple-blade model. It can be used wet or dry and has an automatic cleaning system.
A round-up of some of Philips’ advances include the QC5055 power clipper, able to cut all hair types including Afro-Caribbean; the Bodygroom+, designed to shave, trim and groom every part of the body from the neck down; and the arcitec with its flex and pivot action for a close shave even on the neck.
For her
In women’s grooming, epilators have continued to rise above shavers in their share of the sector, around a 5:1 ratio. This has in part been due to aggressive promotion from manufacturers, but also product development, alleviating the painful process of epilation, where the hair is ‘plucked’ out of the skin. Again, it will be interesting to see how these products perform in the run-up to Christmas.
New products here include another first from Panasonic, the ES2067 Wet and Dry epilator, the world’s first with triple spin discs. These rotate vertically and horizontally catching the hair from all directions. Combined with the product’s ‘floating skin protectors’, it leaves the skin feeling silky and smooth.
The star of the show in women’s shaving in recent seasons has been trimmers, used for sculpting exotic body hair shapes. As a trend, this is popular and likely to continue, but again it is whether consumers opt for new products over existing as they feel the financial pinch.
The key players in grooming maintain that consumers are still keen to spend on technology and for Philips this is matched with a range of endorsements, tie-ups and promotional activity. Coming up towards the end of the year and those all-important Christmas sales, Philips has a multi million-pound brand investment across its product areas, combining TV, online and magazine advertising. In men’s grooming, Philips will also further capitalise on its F1 sponsorship, while in haircare there’s a tie-up with the hair products brand TREsemme, to drive sales of a Christmas gift pack.
Mark Leftwich, Philips consumer marketing director, says in haircare, grooming and beauty, consumers’ expectations are greater than ever before. “They demand advanced technology that delivers professional results at home,” he says. “Consumers are increasingly looking for value for money, but are still prepared to invest in technology and design that delivers professional results and looks the part.”
In female grooming during the last year, the sector was certainly reaping the benefits of increasing costs at salons. That has tailed off somewhat, especially in haircare as mentioned above, but there is still development.
Head beautiful
Haircare is an almost exclusively female area. The latest trends in this sector – again prompted by what is worn by celebrities and on the catwalk – include new technology to straighten or curl ‘as you dry’. Carmen has its Hair Curl Perfect Dryer for this, with a vortex diffuser to produce the curls and ionic conditioning on the 2000W dryer to reduce hair damage and prevent frizziness.
On the protection side, Nicky Clarke has its Detox range of dryer/straighteners using nano silver technology to help get rid of the toxins built up from everyday life (whether pollution or the myriad of products we use on our hair to get the look just right).
Carmen has gone for nano gold combined with ceramic on its Superslim straighteners, offering great heat conductivity for high performance results. It also apparently gives a super sleek and glossy finish to the hair. Indeed, slim-style products are increasingly finding favour, prompted by the iPod and flat panel TV revolution. But temperature and performance still remain key here.
Remington has just launched a set of products that combine styling and conditioning treatments. The innovative Shine Therapy hair dryer and straightener use breakthrough technologies that enable each product to maintain and preserve the condition of hair. At the touch of a button the dryer, which accommodates special cartridges, whilst drying, emits a delicate sheer mist, consisting of moisturisers and avocado oil, rich in vitamins A, E & D. Meanwhile, the ceramic plates of the straightener have special porous properties and have been infused with a blend of Vitamin E and conditioning agents that emit during styling to protect and moisturise.
One product on the edges of grooming which is certainly an interesting one, is a portable sauna. Currently sold online (personalsauna.co.uk) but looking for stockists, at £149.99 it might well be one to tempt purchasers at Christmas, flagged as a pampering/detox product. Apparently it recently featured on Radio 1’s Scott Mills show, being broadcast live from his flat – with Justin Timberlake using the sauna! Now there’s a product endorsement to fight over. The Personal Sauna (see Products to Watch) features a collapsible sauna zip up pod with integrated seat and works using a steam generator which gives instant steam into the pod.
Welcome gifts
The whole grooming sector offers products which are perfect for gifts and although this is nothing new, it could well prove to be a lifeline this Christmas. Among the gifts to watch out for are: the TRESemme Christmas gift pack from Philips focusing on haircare; new Carmen thermal hair rollers; and several products from Nicky Clarke including the Golden Goddess gift box (straightener, gold purse/compact in a luxury vanity case) and Classic Salon Dryer Gift Box (dryer and accessories in a black & white vanity case).
Nichola Pass, senior brand manager for Nicky Clarke Haircare says that gifting sees a major upswing at Christmas and despite the tough financial situation, she feels confident this year will be no exception. “Gift sets will be high on many shopping lists,” she says. “It’s worth noting too that men have become more interested in all areas of personal grooming. This includes men buying hairdryers for themselves – instead of borrowing their sister’s/girlfriend’s – and, to go with the longer fashionable hair trends for men, straighteners too!”

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