Personal grooming: Selling good looks and style

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As long as sports, film and music stars continue to present themselves as role models – and keep taking pride in their appearance – the male grooming market in particular will go from strength to strength.
Haircare – and to some extent women’s shaving and epilation – is also influenced by fashion trends, whether for poker-straight hairstyles, or clothes which require smooth bare legs on show.

But it is really men’s grooming that has seen the most significant reactions. What a relief for the nation’s women that more men are now interested in looking good. Great news for the nation’s electrical retailers too, with a host of new products hitting the market on a regular basis.

Male grooming

Shavers remain the most common tool for male grooming, worth well over £90 million in a total market approaching £120 million. The leading manufacturers have put time and investment into developing the closest shave, with the minimum of skin irritation and combining the use of different materials for the blades and foils – all aimed at delivering the best results. They have been rewarded by increased sales.

The brands have targeted a much younger user too, in terms of shaver styling, functionality and price. According to Braun, four out of 10 young men now grow facial hair, with approximately 30 million male shavers aged 20-34 in Europe. This represents a massive sales opportunity.

Braun is one company targeting this younger audience and has also taken on board the growing trend for all-over body trimming, or ‘manscaping’. The result is the new cruZer Body & Face, featuring four-in-one functions – shave, style and trim both facial and body hair. The company also claims a first – a shower-friendly electric shaver that also trims. Braun business manager Nick Mills says this is a key feature as most men opt for a wet shave to remove unwanted body hair. “Versatility and ease-of-use have always been key selling points with the original cruZer range,” he says. “We have upgraded the functionality for an improved shaving, styling and trimming performance.”

The range has been backed during the summer with a programme of promotional support including linking with the Animal sports brand. Morphy Richards, with the Everyman range (including male grooming products) has linked with the Institute of Cancer Research’s ‘Everyman’ campaign to raise awareness of testicular cancer. In shavers, Philips introduced a special edition range linking in with the Formula 1 Williams team.

Clipping and trimming

It is estimated that nearly half of men style their facial hair in some way, so it is no surprise that the most interesting sales activity is in the clipping and trimming categories. That has certainly been the case in recent seasons. During the last year alone, clippers are up 12% in volume to 14.7 million units and around 10% in value to just over £27 million. Trimmers are up just over 8% in volume to 557,000 units and 5.5% in value to £10 million. We can expect to see further movement here with the new ‘body shaper’ products set to push up sales.

Some of the latest products on the market really are innovative. Remington’s clippers feature the Titanium ‘diamond like carbon’ coating, which was first used on shavers last year. The idea is the coated blades give a longer lasting cutting performance. Other features in the range include a ‘short’ hair clipper for hair lengths 1 to 4 to reproduce styles like those sported by Justin Timberlake and Thierry Henry.

The new man

Toni & Guy and Vidal Sassoon brands from the Helen of Troy (HOT) stable, both have a ‘palm’ clipper in their ranges, aimed at the ‘at home’ clipper market. The palm clipper is an ergonomically designed sphere that sits in the palm of the hand and has a 360° adjustable rotation blade. It has a huge audience reach – those with male pattern baldness, estimated to affect over 80% of men, starting as young as 25.

Michelle McCabe, marketing manager (male grooming) at Philips says celebrity trends are an important influencing factor when it comes to male grooming, but so too is the desire to purchase a product which will do the job. “Consumers will continue to look for this and to do so without compromising on quality,” she says. “They are willing to pay more for brands that they trust and are more likely to purchase products that are well-designed and use innovative technology.”

PR Manager at HOT, Lorah Towns, says a strong motivation for men to buy specific brands comes from powerful packaging and manufacturers’ ability to ‘talk’ to the end user – “think of the WKD and VW ads,” she says. “Men’s magazines too have become a fundamental vehicle for the representation of the new ‘grooming’ man – a renovated image of masculinity characterised by his embrace of the feminine world.”

The Nicky Clarke Electric brand has several products in this sector, including grooming ‘kits’ and marketing executive Sonia Leese says that men are looking for professional products that are recommended by a hairdresser or barber, with features like mains/rechargeable for easy use round the home and wet and dry clippers. “Technology and design are important,” she says. “Increasingly men are looking to purchase clippers which come with accessories.”

While the youth market is a key sector that manufacturers and retailers are looking to win over, Lorah Towns at HOT says there will also be movement in the creation of ‘age specific’ products, mirroring what is happening in the wet goods sector. “The future is in age conscious older men who are sold anti-wrinkle moisturisers under some such description as ‘Expression Diminisher’ (well, they’re not going to buy a ‘moisturiser’ are they?)” she says. “Be under no illusion, the electrical grooming market will be set to follow suit with products designed and targeted to appeal across the ages.”

Women’s grooming

Strangely enough, women’s grooming products do not seem to benefit as much from celebrity trends as men’s and the market has been finding it quite tough to put in good sales performances. Haircare is down around 3%, but is still worth a healthy £148 million at retail. Volume has stayed fairly static during the last year but is now showing a slight rise.

The drop in value is down to the steady decline in average price and heavily discounted price promotions – average price is currently £18, down around 6.6%. Straighteners have the best price, at £26, with dryers at £15, heated rollers at £22 and tongs at £13.

Dryers have performed well during the last year, now worth around £49 million, up 15% year on year. ‘Fixed’ stylers, such as rollers, are also up in value, by 16% but coming from a much smaller base of £5.5 million.

Louise Beaumont, haircare category manager at Morphy Richards, says the increase in demand for products like rollers is a reflection of the more relaxed hairstyles that are popular now. This links in with consumers’ continuing demand for the ‘tools the professionals use’.

“Consumers want products that allow them to create salon looks quickly and easily,” she says. “Whether it’s sleek straight locks or tumbling curls, consumers want a product that delivers the perfectly finished look with minimum effort.” Products finding favour are powerful dryers with adjustable nozzles to dissipate heat (e.g. the Chocolate Quick Dry dryer from Morphy Richards), while the move in recent seasons to ‘protect’ hair continues. Carmen has a range of products such as ‘Smooth and Shine’ and ‘Straight and Hydrate’ straighteners where ‘hair care’ is paramount. Other developments have included the use of ceramic and ionic technology, helping reduce ‘frizz’ and flyaway hair.

Product style-wise there are some great funky ranges on the market, including various red and chrome combinations from Nicky Clarke Electric and the fabulous 50s-inspired pink and cream Headgear Retro range from Morphy Richards.

Key drivers this Christmas in haircare will be in the £10 to £25 category, particularly straighteners as trends move towards short blunt styles. Keep stylers to hand though as there is always a demand for curls.

Shaving and epilation have seen falls in sales in recent years, but continue to be supported in product development by manufacturers, including a ‘world first’ – a ‘wet and dry’ epilator, featuring a skin protector system, which holds down the skin while the hair is being removed at the root, and a foam epilating system to speed along the process.

The only sectors showing any real good sales performance during this last year were both very niche – electrolysis and laser.

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