This month, men’s mustaches around the world are growing in all sorts of styles in honor of Movember, an annual event that raises awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer, as well as suicide prevention. (Narvar is raising funds this Movember for all the dads, brothers, sons, and mates in our lives: Donate here!)
Meanwhile, as men form the perfect lip foliage with the right razors, trimmers, cream, aftershave and moisturizers, it’s impossible not to notice that a variety of men’s grooming brands are disrupting the big guys in the category, such as Procter & Gamble’s Gillette and Edgewell’s Schick. While those CPG leaders still boast 54% and 15% of the $2.8 billion men’s shaving market, respectively, their numbers are down from 70% and 19% just a few years back. And Gillette was even forced to slash its razor prices by an average of 12% last year.
The web lowered the barriers to entry for new companies, while social media gave consumers more of a voice, and ecommerce allowed digital brands to go directly to shoppers.
The rise of start-up shaving and skin-care brands is in line with digital disruption throughout the CPG and retail industries. In previous decades, big brands and retailers worked together—through mass production, distribution and marketing—to boost sales and keep competitors at bay. The web lowered the barriers to entry for new companies, while social media gave consumers more of a voice, and ecommerce allowed digital brands to go directly to shoppers.
The two players that have chipped away the most at the traditional brands are Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s. Acquired for $1 billion in 2016 by Unilever, the subscription-model Dollar Shave Club (known for its low-cost razors and viral videos) was a disruptor when it launched in 2011. Now the company, which boasts 50% of the online razor market and 8% of the total men’s shaving market, is keen to become the ultimate men’s wellness destination.
Meanwhile, Harry’s, a brand founded in 2013 as another club-based, online, direct-to-consumer play, has about 2% of the total men’s shaving market and has been called “The Warby Parker of Shaving.” In 2018, it raised another $112 million, with plans to develop brands that go beyond men’s grooming. It has already taken a minority stake in men’s hair-loss startup Hims and plans to buy majority ownership in other brands.
But there are still other, smaller niche brands that are looking to take on the men’s grooming leaders through the power of e-commerce. Take Bevel, founded by Walker and Co. in 2014 to target men of color—first as a subscription service and now sold at Target. Starting with a shaving kit and now offering an electric trimmer, founder Tristan Walker, who had previous roles at Twitter and Foursquare, considers Bevel a tech company that focuses on data-driven marketing as well as intimate, personal advertising campaigns. A recent one called “Bevel Mirrors” featured 10 videos of customers sharing their stories about shaving and coming of age, while shaving on camera.
Even supermarket private labels are getting in on the men’s grooming trends. This past July, Kroger unveiled Bromley’s For Men, an exclusive line of men’s shaving and grooming products that is positioned as premium quality but affordably priced.
As Movember morphs into the holiday season frenzy, it’s worth noting that today’s men’s grooming brands are hardly stopping at men’s razors and shaving cream. Dollar Shave Club, for example, recently announced that it is moving into fragrance. Harry’s is taking on the women’s shaving market with its new brand, Flamingo. Leader Gillette, however, is turning up the heat by honing in on building a better mousetrap: It has decided to focus on a premium product, a $150 heated razor. Happy Movember, everyone…stay healthy and well-groomed!