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Every fashionable trend cycles—and men's grooming styles are no exception. Data from a September 2014 study by IRI, a global market and shopper intelligence firm based in Europe, showed that the growth in facial hair among men translates to fewer shoppers for men's grooming brands, especially those that sell shaving products.
While the men's grooming business occupies a much smaller chunk of total beauty sales than equivalent women's products do, men do buy the basics—and spend when they do. They opt most often for body wash, shaving tools and shampoo, according to the NPD Group.
According to data Defy Media released in February 2014, when men invest in grooming products, they usually do so because they heard about them from friends, family or advertisements. Four in 10 US male internet users who had purchased a new grooming product in the three months prior to being surveyed learned about the product through friends or family. Ad circulars, coupons and mailers were almost equally effective at spreading the word: 41% of respondents said they were made aware of a grooming product they purchased in the previous three months thanks to well-executed advertising.
That doesn't mean men are impervious to trends, no matter how persuasive the product advertising may be. Shaving products, the exemplar for can't-do-without goods that are sold at high margins, are taking a backseat in men's shopping carts, as stubble makes its way into the workplace and onto runways. Scruffy styles are making a comeback, whether sported by bearded millennials or stubbly Hollywood celebrities—and it's affecting sales.
IRI reported that sales in shaving and hair removal products in Europe were down more than €90 million in March 2014 vs. a year earlier. Procter & Gamble, which dominates the market with Gillette, announced in 2013 that its razor sales were falling in developing markets; Energizer corroborated the sentiment, saying that unit sales of Schick's men's razors tumbled by 10%.
But men's grooming companies carry on, undeterred by trends. With startups like Dollar Shave Club, Harry's and Bevel undercutting the prices of longstanding market leaders like Gillette—and shaving off their market share bit by bit—the space is evolving, betting on the fact that every man needs a razor, regardless of how often he shaves. But for those who think the three-day-stubble look is more than just a passing fad, grooming products—including oils and beard trimmers—could prove a new opportunity to sell customers goods otherwise overlooked.
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