But although Mintel estimates that the overall market for men's toiletries reached a good-looking £806m in 2007, industry experts believe that there is still plenty of room for growth.
"The male grooming market continues to exhibit unfulfilled potential," says Datamonitor consumer markets analyst Matthew Taylor. "Its rate of growth has been steady in recent years, but has still to 'explode' as many have predicted."
The good news for retailers is that male customers are making up an increasing proportion of the 34% of c-store shoppers estimated to come into stores specifically for toiletries (source: Unilever Partners for Growth).
"Some toiletries, such as toothpaste, shower gel and deodorants are used regularly, and if customers are running low they will pop into their local store to top up," says Kimberley Green, Partners for Growth manager. And once men are in the store to seek out shaving gel they tend to stock up on other daily essentials, too. "Toiletries shoppers spend about £8.87 per trip compared with the average £5.24," continues Green. "This makes them very valuable shoppers and a category that's potentially valuable to the retailer."
While it may not be news to long-suffering wives and girlfriends, Mintel has identified that men really don't enjoy shopping for toiletries. Their research also suggests that men go to the shops only when they're running low on a certain product and prefer a self-selection environment to being hassled by shop assistants. All of which makes the typical convenience store 'grab and go' format the ideal forum for reluctant male consumers - as long as they can find what they want quickly and easily.
"In order to reach male customers it's all about getting the core range right and stocking the top sellers," says Unilever brand manager Louise Brunt. "Because customers act on impulse it's the best-selling products that you can't afford to run out of."
Unfortunately, one practical barrier c-store managers face to putting best-selling products out on the shelves is the threat of theft. Grooming products are often high-ticket items and as a result many stores put items such as razors behind the counter so they're out of reach of light-fingered shoppers. But, as Green points out, while it's important to keep stock safe it's still vital to signpost product availability elsewhere on the shop floor.
"If retailers feel it is necessary to keep high-value products behind the counter then it is critical that empty packs or a simple visual prompt of these products is positioned at the fixture stating 'ask at till',"
While well-known brands such as Sure, Nivea and Gillette continue to be big sellers the current economic downturn may be stopping the male grooming market from expanding as fast as marketers would like.
"The most important influencing factor on men's personal care is price," admits Datamonitor's Taylor. "There's a big contrast with the women's grooming market. Whereas some women will trade down in other areas in order to still afford their favourite grooming brands and products, the relatively low emotional connection that men feel in this sector could see them trade down personal care products in order to maintain purchases in other categories."
Brunt at Unilever sees the situation differently. "We're not seeing a tradedown in male toiletries," she states. "Men are much more likely to trade down with purchases such as electricals - toiletries still don't represent a massive amount of men's outgoings."
Fresh faces to the UK male grooming market are counting on the fact that brand loyalty will waver as penny-pinching consumers look for value products. After enjoying a 27% value growth between 2007/2008, which it claims is driven by the c-store sector, Supermax has launched a new range of razors, gels and shaving foam targeted at the what sales manager Jo Thiselton-Dyer calls "the growing £1 zone".
For retailers unsure of which products to concentrate on stocking, it might be best to stick with functional toiletries such as shampoo, deodorants, shower gel and soap which dominate men's daily routine. After all, research suggests that as a target market most men prefer to stick with what they know rather than look out for new products. However, image-conscious younger consumers are creating an appetite for fresh ideas, especially in the skincare sector.
According to Mintel, four in 10 men currently use the kind of face creams and lotions that were once associated purely with the female market. And as pressure grows on men to be well-groomed for the office, more brands are working on incorporating skincare benefits into their offer.
Nivea For Men was the first international brand to concentrate on male facial skincare. Last year saw the company relaunch the range to mark its 10th anniversary. Hot on Nivea's heels is L'Oréal's Men Expert series, which is pursuing the skincare route through anti-ageing and moisturising products.
"The skincare category is relatively immature in the men's market," says Datamonitor's Taylor. "This sector represents the greatest potential, but marketers face a tough challenge motivating men to buy products they have lived without for many years."
Brunt believes that younger men are more likely to begin introducing skincare products into their bathroom cabinets. "Men aged 45+ just don't want skincare, they've never used it and don't see why they should start. It's the 30- to 45-year-olds who are getting into these products," she says.
C-store managers might not anticipate demand for expensive moisturisers, but they will see skincare benefits sneaking into best-selling brands they already have in stock. For example, Gillette hopes to attract new customers to the skincare category with its Gillette Series range featuring scrubs and balms designed to fit into men's shaving regime.
"Half of UK men already use a skincare product, but less than a fifth actually buy a product designed for men," says Nathan Homer, brand manager at Gillette. "Gillette consumers already have great trust in the Gillette brand."
Meanwhile, Unilever is putting the focus on younger men with marketing activity for its Lynx shower gel range. "Up until now shower products have been very unisex," says Brunt. "But now we're seeing an increasing amount of 'for men' products."
Lynx is also aiming to drive value into the male deodorant category with the Lynx Bullet. The pocket-sized deodorant is currently being promoted with a cheeky campaign aimed squarely at the under-25s.
6 Right Guard
7 Gillette series
10 L'Oréal Men Expert
Source TNS, April 2009
"The core customers we see coming in to buy male grooming products tend to be either teenagers or men under 25. It's natural that when boys reach puberty they want to begin looking into buying shaving cream and getting gel to spike their hair. The brands we stock are all very well advertised, which helps drive younger customers into the store. Shockwaves is one of our biggest sellers and we stock both the wax and hair gel. We get a lot of young surfers here in Newquay and they all like to use it! As far as shaving products go we stock Gillette foam and gel, and I'd definitely recommend retailers stock up on both. If I had more room I'd look to get some anti-ageing skincare products and a serum that customers could use to treat shaving rash. Younger men seem to be getting more adventurous in their grooming choices."
Angie Stevenson, Best One, Newquay, Cornwall
Make customers aware that you stock toiletries. 18% of c-store shoppers don't realise they can buy toiletries at their local store, so place them in the top-up area where they can be seen
Availability is crucial. If shoppers can't find what they want, they will often defer the purchase
Stock the bestsellers. 85% of shoppers intend to buy a leading toiletries brand when they come into your store. But, with limited space and so many products to choose from, what do you stock? Quite simply, the top brands in each sector.
Use point of sale to signpost your fixture. Shoppers are often in a hurry so make sure your toiletries fixture is well signposted so shoppers can find it quickly
Divide the fixture clearly into sections: This can be a complicated fixture to shop, so it's important that it is merchandised logically. Men are more comfortable if their products are separated from women's ranges
Place your best-selling product at eye level: This will help maximise your sales.
Source: Partners for Growth
Now blokes can get a "Brazilian" with Lynx's Fever shower gel featuring Brazilian Hot Mud and Red Dragonfly Extract.
tel: 01372 945000
For those who want to save the planet while they shave comes BIC ecolutions, a bioplastic shaver made from renewable resources.
tel: 01895 827 100
Hydration for him
Nivea For Men's Q10 moisturiser has shelf appeal for c-stores in areas where the 'guyliner' looked most like catching on.
tel: 0845 644 8556
Still the 'best a man can get' for plenty of men, this year saw the Gillette Series brand make further forays into shave-based skincare.
rrp: from £4.99.
tel: 0800 597 3388
Best foot forward
Now available in c-stores, Lamisil Once athlete's foot treatment bridges that gap between the gym and the beach.
tel: 01403 218 111