The men’s grooming revolution – are beards the catalyst?

The annual Movember campaign got underway on November 1st, its purpose to encourage men to grow a moustache during the month of November as a means of raising awareness for men’s health issues.

When Movember first started in 2003, seeing a man with a moustache was pretty unusual, but as time went on, men wanted to keep their moustaches long after the month was up. Facial hair (or “peak beard”) has become a fashion statement especially among young professional urbanites. Not scrappy little things or designer stubble, but full, glossy beards a man could be proud of.

The beard trend is having unseen consequences for the men’s grooming markets. In the US, Procter & Gamble has reported sales of $3.7bn in razors and shaving accessories, but this represented a 2% decline from the previous year. It seems to suggest that the clean shaven look has had its day –for the moment, at least.

According to Datamonitor’s* Consumer 2013 Global Survey, 51% of consumers believe obtaining the best value for money is most important when choosing a shaving product. So are high prices to blame, or is it because men prefer a bit of facial hair growth? Datamonitor’s Khalid Peerbaccus offers the view that men are giving up on razors and gels due to the overabundance of products on the market making it hard to make a choice in-store. “For many manufacturers a simple shaving gel will not suffice; a man must consider his skin type before selecting a gel, foam or cream and must not neglect aftercare add-ons to avoid all the nicks, ingrown hairs and other hassles associated with dragging a sharp object across his skin each morning.”

Should men’s grooming companies be concerned? Not if they see this trend as an opportunity. Initially, beards might have been seen as a novelty, but it’s been going on now for some time and a number of A-listers, including Brad Pitt and George Clooney, are endorsing the trend with “peak beard” of their own.

Instead of fixating on shaving, companies should think about the grooming needs of bearded men. There are plenty of beard oils and beard conditioners on the internet from niche brands, such as Jack Black and Beardsley, as well as specialist websites such as beardcare.co.uk, but why aren’t major players such as Gillette and Nivea bringing out specific beard grooming products?

And why stop there? Beard cleansers, moisturisers for facial skin hiding behind beards, beard colourants for older men who want a beard but don’t want to look like Father Christmas –the possibilities for innovative men’s grooming products are endless.

For decades, we researchers have been predicting a revolution in men’s grooming products, but still the category lags behind women’s beauty in terms of size and sophistication. Now, the industry has a real reason to grow men’s grooming by seizing on the beard trend before it peaks.

*Datamonitor will be presenting on men’s grooming trends at the in-cosmetics show Marketing Trends theatre.

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