Groomed to Grow

The Panasonic Arc3 ES-SL41 3-Blade Wet/Dry Shaver is one product geared toward younger men. panasonic.com

The Panasonic Arc3 ES-SL41 3-Blade Wet/Dry Shaver is one product geared toward younger men. panasonic.com

By David Gill

All of the current indicators lead to the conclusion that grooming for men is hot.

Among these indicators are recent research from The NPD Group, which has shown that men’s grooming tools are one of the most powerful drivers of growth in the overall personal care industry. According to NPD’s numbers, men’s grooming products generated $964 million in U.S. department-store sales in 2011, up 11 percent from 2010. In the 12 months ending in June, NPD said, dollar sales of men’s electric shavers and men’s trimmers increased 9 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

Probing further, the research firm found that sales of facial trimmers rose 13 percent in that time frame. Pen trimmers and nose/ear trimmers posted sales growth of 22 percent and 19 percent in units, respectively. Sales of body groomers jumped nearly 16 percent in units, with much of the fuel for this category coming from men aged 35 and younger.

Men’s grooming products are easily outperforming other personal-care items, according to Debra Mednick, executive director of NPD’s home business. “Even though the overall personal-care industry is currently flat, the men’s grooming categories are showing healthy growth,” Mednick said. “Men are purchasing the tools to help them get their look, and looking good sells.”

This is terrific news for vendors of men’s grooming tools, of course, and they are currently reaping the benefits of trends in favor of electric trimmers and shavers.

For some vendors, men’s grooming products have made hay from shifts in hair styles in recent years. “The men’s grooming market has been strong as men’s hair styles have changed,” said Karen Formico, vice president of marketing for Andis. “A few years back, it was the Justin Bieber effect and longer, mop-tops were in. Now we see a return to grooming and shorter, styled hair.”

One of Andis’ more recent product launches in this area is the VersaTrim Personal Trimmer, a cordless product that comes in a 14-piece set enabling users to trim facial hair to any length and style. Among the best-selling grooming categories are “close-cutting clippers and trimmers that allow the personalization of hair designs, as well as those that provide the shaved-head look and the man-scaping of the beard and mustache area,” Formico said.

Other vendors see the variety of available products and the technology that powers them as important to the category’s growth. “We believe the men’s grooming category has grown for Panasonic due to its cutting-edge technology and diversified product lineup,” said Natalia Salazar, the company’s product manager for personal care.

Salazar offered up one of Panasonic’s newest shavers, the Arc3 ES-SL41 3-Blade Wet/Dry Shaver, as an example. This ergonomically designed shaver can be used wet or dry, and is made with 30-degree Nanotech blades, a 45-degree trimmer blade and a Multi-fit Arc Foil that lifts and guides stubble closer to the blade. It was introduced at this year’s International Home + Housewares Show as a product geared toward 18- to 24-year-olds. “Gen Y has definitely grown (as a market) within the last few years, as they adapt well to new technology and are always waiting for the next best thing,” Salazar said.

The market is also strong in products for older men, according to Jeff Bovee, senior product marketing manager-trimmers for Wahl Clipper. “In the consumer research we have done, generally the respondents that are most likely to own electric grooming tools tend to be the 35- to 55-year-olds,” Bovee said. “Probably the need to look more professional as they get older and the male body’s natural hair growth processes have the most to do with this.”

One recent introduction by Wahl, the LI ION 3 In 1, is a combined shaver and trimmer with a number of attachments for shaving and grooming. “We see many more consumers who use a trimmer for shaving instead of wet shaving or using an electric shaver,” Bovee said. “These consumers either are going for a stubble look or just don’t feel the need for a super-close shave.”

The vendors have taken a personal interest in keeping this boom going, with programs designed to help their retail partners maintain the movement of products off the shelves. “Specific to autumn, we are participating in the Tailgate Tour, a fan experience for college football, and have secured advertisements in NFL yearbooks for our 2012 new-product lineup,” Salazar said. “We are also sponsoring the Beard and Mustache Championship in Las Vegas in November. And of course, we have ongoing advertising (digital and print) around multiple retailers throughout the year.”

“We like to support our retail partners, so whatever programs they are interested in, we do our best to accommodate,” Bovee said. “This often will be end-cap promotions with tray packs and a variety of Wahl grooming products, and support for store advertising.”With such campaigns and with the trends in men’s grooming, “we don’t see an end in sight” to the upward surge in men’s grooming, Bovee said. “Our plan is to keep growing the category by adding innovative new products to help men look their best. Certainly, this will include extensions of existing products as well as improvements to our core technologies.”

While other fashions often change rapidly, Formico believes that the growth of men’s grooming products will maintain its current staying power. “Although the mop-tops and casual clothing are still around, we see a trend toward a sharper image and a more trimmed appearance both in clothing and in grooming,” she said. “For those of us selling grooming appliances, this means men will be looking for more options to help them maintain the tight, finished look.”