In the male grooming sector retail experts have noticed that men, as well as market conditions, have got hairier in the past year.

“It’s a bit of a mixed bag for male grooming,” explains Tom Hazelden from Partners for Growth. “Categories such as deodorants, body sprays and skincare have remained fairly untouched by the recession in usage and volume terms due to the ‘personal’ nature of the products. For example, you choose your deo because you know it works and won’t compromise price for lower efficacy.

“However, razors and blades have seen a slowdown due to men making their razors (as an expensive item) last longer.”

Fashion appears to be following economic necessity as chaps ape the appearance of hirsute style heroes such as Brad Pitt and let their follicles grow free.

In fact, Mintel says that a more natural rugged appearance is making a comeback - nearly half of men it polled state they don’t have to be clean-shaven to look well-groomed.

This trend towards going easy with the razor doesn’t mean that the male grooming category is anywhere near washed up, though. “Male grooming is one of the three strongest performing categories in health & beauty, along with hair care and oral care,” continues Hazelden. “It has shown consistent growth over the past six years of between 3-5%.”

Jane Boret, marketing manager for Dove Men+Care and Sure For Men at Unilever UK, agrees: “The male grooming category is worth £611.8m,” she says. “While a number of segments are performing well, male grooming still has a long way to go before maturity, and presents a significant opportunity to brands and retailers to close the usage gap between men and women when it comes to grooming.”

Whichever way you cut it, shaving is central to most c-store’s male grooming offer. Even bearded men want to keep their facial hair neat, which means regular top-up shops for razors and shave gel.

P&G head of communications Paul Lettice says: “Retailers should ensure they have a leading, up-to-date range of products available to cater for top-up and distress purchases of blades and razors, as well as accompanying shave care products.

Retailer’s View: John Cuthbertson

“We’ve got four shops and the biggest c-store is on Dundee University campus. The male students tend to buy the grooming basics - items such as deodorants, shampoos and shower gels. Once we used to sell lots of hair gel, but that trend seems to have passed.

“Students are very brand loyal on certain products. I’ve got a theory that if it’s a grooming product they’re seen to be using - such as deodorant - they’ll go for a brand (Lynx is popular), but for stuff like shower gel they’re happy to buy something else. We sell disposable razors, but not razor systems, or razor blades. I don’t suppose male students shave every day, so it’s not as important.”

John Cuthbertson, Premier at the Union, Dundee University

“By stocking a clearly sign-posted range in a prime position within their health and beauty offerings, retailers can encourage trade up,” he adds.

Last year saw real innovation in the shaving sector with the two main players, Gillette and Wilkinson Sword, breaking new ground by eschewing the ‘more blades mean better shave’ approach and focusing instead on design advances which heightened both comfort and performance.

Gillette’s Fusion Proglide system set the pace with super-thin blades supported by a low-resistance coating, created to banish cuts caused by too-slow swipes at the beard. Now, to keep momentum strong, Gillette is giving its Fusion ProGlide system a sporty update with a special gold edition, created to support the 2012 Olympics.

Disposable heroes

According to Mintel, razor blades are one of the most expensive grooming items on men’s shopping lists - with the rise in inflation pushing razor refills increasingly towards the psychologically important £10 mark.

Of course, big brands are banking on blokes staying with their favourites at any cost - but falling real income could mean men seek out cheaper alternatives.

Super-Max seeks to mirror the innovation in high-end products in the disposable razor sector. Its new Super-Max Ultimate3 Protect product features propolis, a naturally derived antiseptic that soothes as it shaves.

“We offer higher than average margins for the retailer,” says Super-Max national account manager Sarah Crawford.

“Due to their lower retail value they are targeted less by thieves than the higher priced system products on the market and can be displayed on shelf, not behind the till.

“We have also developed a £1 range for c-stores that want to concentrate on a budget offering.”

Talking scents

Although the overarching trend for men is tending toward the raw and rugged retro look, no modern man would get away with smelling like one of their more aromatic 70s counterparts. As Mintel notes, men want to smell fresh, clean and professional - though not ‘girly’ - so it’s no surprise that ‘for men’ shower and deodorant products are c-store staples.

“Core toiletries (shower and deos) are the main categories driving the performance for male toiletries as more men start to use a ‘for men’ version of products they already use,” says Hazelden.

Currently helping to drive the category forward is Suremen Adventure, a new deo aimed at building excitement around Sure’s ‘endurance’ proposition.

Promising 48-hour protection for men in high-adrenaline situations, the brand is bolstered by a £4m marketing spend across TV, outdoor and digital platforms.

Since marketing types find men a tough demographic to reach, the digital element is becoming an essential way to communicate with males that have moved away from print media and on to social networks via their smart phones.

To this end, the team behind Suremen is using an online game to create brand awareness. “The ‘Beat The Elements’ promotion challenges men to experience the thrill of adventure first-hand and interact with their deodorant in an engaging way, keeping the brand at the heart of their experience,” explains Suremen brand manager Christine Winton.”We are most excited about the online competition element which will reach out to our target audience of 25- to 44-year-olds.”

Elsewhere, Lynx is innovating to catch the eye - and nose - of younger consumers who help make it the UK’s most popular grooming brand with a 26.8% share of the category, according to IRI.

By adding a limited-edition Lynx Attract - For Her variant to what was previously a boys’ own club, it’s hoping to create a sexual chemistry that makes it successful with lads and ladettes.

Hair today

Though not likely to be fighting their partners for the hair straighteners each morning, the pressure on men to look professional means that they’re paying more attention to what’s on top.

“Haircare is becoming a crucial part of men’s daily care, accounting for 14% of male grooming usage occasions, versus only 9% for women,” says Unilever UK hair brand manager Richard Whitty.

“Research has revealed that men are willing to pay a premium for ‘men only’ products, as they know these products have been designed specifically for their needs.”

Unilever has followed the money and extended the Lynx brand into haircare, with a range that includes Lynx-branded shampoos right through to styling gels.

Mintel says that unlike women, men don’t see beauty buys as an opportunity to solve their problems. For instance, men always tend to see their skin as ‘normal’ rather than oily or sensitive.

However, haircare is an exception, with dandruff still a firm social faux pas.

That’s why Lynx features an anti-dandruff variant in its new collection - and it also turns up as a benefit in the new rebooted Wash & Go brand alongside menthol fresh, gentle and light & clean versions.

Wash & Go is now available in c-store friendly 200ml solo packs at a keen £1 rrp.

“As well as the appealing £1 round price point, the new packs will have great standout on shelf and are the perfect size for smaller stores,” says Lettice.


Clean up

Wash & Go has been reformulated to appeal to a new generation of men who don’t have time to mess around in the shower with both shampoo and conditioner. With a retail price of a round pound it should chime with the cash-conscious male, too.

rrp: £1

tel: 0800 597 3388

Sure thing

Suremen Adventure deodorant promises to supply men with 48-hour protection for their high adrenaline lives - whether they’re mountain biking, sky diving, or simply popping out for a paper and some milk. An online game aims to keep the audience glued.

rrp: £2.99

tel: 0800 0852639

Budget travel

SuperMax’s bargain £1 travel shave packs could be a boon for c-stores looking to attract price-conscious travelling types who want to look sharp while getting rid of the shrapnel in their pockets. Can also help out absent-minded holidaymakers who packed just a little too light.

rrp: £1

tel: 020 8844 1433

Going for Gold

Sometimes it feels like you deserve a gold medal just for getting out of bed - and now your customers can strike gold courtesy of Gillette. Its new Fusion ProGlide Olympic edition offers Olympic grooming, even if their day’s barely going to hit bronze.

rrp: £9.99

tel: 0800 44553883

Final fight

Proving that Armageddon could be the perfect driver for top-up shops, Lynx has launched Lynx 2012: The Final Edition. Inspired by the Mayan calendar’s prophecy of doom for December, look out for anxious young men eager to use the apocalypse as an opportunity to pull

rrp: £3.25

tel: 0800 585204