It’s ‘Game On’ for men’s grooming market

Posted on March 18th, 2010 by Michelle

When it comes to men’s grooming, history shows that this market is easily aroused but just can’t keep it going long enough for anybody to really be satisfied.  But hey, that doesn’t mean they’re not going to keep trying.

With a host of new products and clever ads, men’s grooming is the hot marketing topic. Forget Coke vs. Pepsi. It’s Old Spice (“The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”) vs. Dove (“Manthem”) and Gillette vs. Schick, according to a recent article in Advertising Age. But duh, you really only had to watch a little TV to figure that one out, didn’t you?

In 2008 and 2009, the heart of the Great Recession, sales of men’s grooming products increased by less than 1 percent, according to researchers at Mintel, who follow that stuff.  Considering that personal care sales overall dropped 5.1 percent during that time says Information Resources Inc., that’s pretty darn good.

And the big three: Unilever (Dove, AXE), Procter & Gamble (Old Spice and Gillette), and Energizer Holdings (Schick) are jumping on the bandwagon.  Again.

Marketers tried this before, back in ’02, when L’Oreal, Nivea, Gillette and Neutrogena tried to develop men’s lines and the ad people tried to make “metrosexual” a household word. Oh, you vaguely remember?  Yeah, that’s kind of the point.  They receded more quickly than a hairline.

Until now.  Men’s grooming products are moving forward and everybody has come out swinging.  In drug and grocery stores across the country, they’re starting to carve out sections on the shelves again.  Grooming ads are showing up next to those for sports drinks and cars in men’s magazines like Sports Illustrated and Men’s Health. (And by the way guys, if you really do sweat like those guys in the Gatorade ads, whether or not it’s purple, we would really appreciate it if you pay close attention to the body wash ads.)

Unilever gets much of the credit for the boom, thanks to AXE. The company’s VP of personal care-North America, Kathy O’Brien, says that except for shaving products, Unilever has captured two-thirds of the growth market in the last 5 years.  (Gillette still has 70 percent of the shaving and razor market.)  Dove+Men was the next logical move for Unilever because those guys using AXE have to grow up sometime, don’t they?

P&G wants a piece of the action so badly it seems like the marketers have resorted to the kind of mudslinging usually reserved for political ads. “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” takes a poke at “lady-scented body wash.”  Unlike political ads, it’s funny and the guy is truly hot, so we’re OK with that.

But not all men’s grooming products are mass market, find-it-at-the-pharmacy types.  Another testament to the growing market is the number of smaller luxury-brand companies out there such as Jack Black, and the websites dedicated to them, like and  Also telling is that recently launched, dedicated to “health and grooming essentials for men.”

Hopefully, this latest incarnation of men’s grooming products has more staying power than a creative services manager on Viagra because aside from a sale at Sephora, there’s nothing we at LookinGood appreciate more than a well-groomed man.

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