A Strategic Point Of View

P&G Issues a Storm Warning For Men’s Grooming Market

By Colin Hession, Colin Hession Consulting | November 4, 2010

For our readers involved in the men's market, male grooming and the like, we hope that you have taken note of the hurricane warning which has been issued by P&G of late, namely, Hurricane Gillette. Back in mid-2009 the Wall Street Journal was flagging up the news of P&G's major restructure of its beauty business by gender (see Happi, July 2009) in order to leverage its unique male franchise with Gillette, led by Ed Shirley, P&G’s vice chair of the Global Beauty & Grooming business unit.

Shirley joined P&G five years ago with the $57 billion acquisition of Gillette, having made a career with the shaving giant, and is now boss of all of P&G’s beauty and grooming business worldwide. He has been consistently talking about P&G’s aspirations in the men's market in nearly every public speech he makes. Speaking to a meeting of the Cosmetic Executive Women group in New York in September, Shirley claimed that Gillette was the best men's brand in the world, yet he admitted that it was really “only winning with wet shave. But when you combine the technologies and knowledge P&G have in deodorants, skin care, body washes, bar soaps and hair care, it’s a no-brainer.”

He went on to add “we are (also) going to roll out a whole portfolio of prestige guys’ products, whether it is fragrance or skin or shaving or hair care, because there is a consumer that is interested in delighting themselves and pampering themselves. Why should we leave all that to women?”

If ever there was an advance heads-up of a competitive hurricane coming, this has to be it. Marketers of men's brands would do well to heed the warning and take action accordingly, dig in defensively, bring forward those innovations and if you’re feeling particularly brave, prepare to surf the coming wave!

Henkel Sees the Doctor

An ever widening battle line for Henkel.

Eighteen months ago German giant Henkel launched what was the first “doctor” skin care brand in the French mass market, Dr. Caspari. Interestingly, Henkel chose to do so under the umbrella branding of its leading skin care brand, Diadermine, which was already No.3 in French facial skin care, behind L’Oréal and Nivea. The Dr. Caspari line has achieved some 3% share, within Diadermine’s overall 18%.

Now Henkel is stepping up its campaign for the Dr. Caspari line with the addition of Novagen Intense Age-Repair, which is formulated with a complex based on Italian Apple cells and Lipochroman-6 to protect against free radicals. All for around 20 bucks!

The strategic issue would seem to be if, and then when, will Henkel decide to extend the Diadermine brand beyond its current distribution in Germany, France and Spain? Although Diadermine has shown itself to be a worthy competitor to both L'Oréal and Nivea, the facial skin care category is frighteningly competitive and very costly in terms of achieving cold start-ups. But if you have spent time and money developing a proven franchise in three major markets, why not leverage your success?

However, it has to be admitted that Henkel’s battle line, the number of categories in which the company participates, is already very stretched: from oral care in Europe to body care in the U.S. Can Henkel really afford to open up yet another front in, say, North American skin care? Where Dial already has a whole number of potential parent company brands to launch…difficult priorities for Brad Casper’s successor, veteran Henkel exec, Stefan Sudhof.

Unilever To Buy Alberto-Culver
Whilst it’s no surprise that someone has swallowed up Alberto-Culver (see Happi Sept 2010), it is

Low priced flanker to protect Dove?
perhaps somewhat of a surprise to learn that Unilever is the acquirer. Although Alberto’s chief executive officer, Jim Marino, has done good things with TreSemme by exploiting its VFM salon-type positioning—and to a lesser extent with Nexxus—AC is still slugging it out in the center of the mass market in the U.S. without being able to get much of a premium for VO5 or St. Ives. Rather like Unilever's Suave, in fact. Difficult to see many upsides, except perhaps as low priced flankers to protect Dove plus AC’s ethnic business in some of Unilever’s developing and emerging markets.

Shiseido Goes Down Market
Japanese cosmetics manufacturer Shiseido recently made the strategic decision to expand into what it calls "the low-end skin care market" in Japan. The company is launching new skin care SENKA Skin Lotion Made From Moisturising Cream, with a total of 4 SKUs, retailing for around (only) $12. Interestingly, Senka will not use the corporate name, Shiseido, on the front of the pack but will show it as the manufacturer on the back label.

Shiseido says that the Japanese introduction will be followed by launches into masstige markets in other Asian countries next year, with the aim to become “a global player representing Asia with its origins in Japan.” This is all very well, and in keeping with the company's usual rather grandiose statements about itself, but the fact is that Shiseido is currently far from being a global player in prestige, let alone mass, so we don't think you'll see Senka in Europe or the U.S. any time soon.

Prestige: Signs of Recovery
Six months ago we reviewed some depressing figures for the prestige industry in 2009 from leading U.S. research company, The NPD Group (Happi, March 2010). They showed year-on-year declines for both the U.S. and Europe, although double digit growth for China. We have better news! NPD data for the first half of this year suggest that things are changing at the top end of the beauty market (Chart I).

Green shoots of recovery? We certainly hope so, but look at the China numbers (Chart I)—and remember, we’re talking prestige. They are quite staggering, even taking into account the small base to start with.

The NPD Group is to the prestige channel, what SymphonyIRI and Nielsen are to mass. Thanks to NPD’s incisive information, one can track some fascinating differences between countries. For example, the extent to which fragrance dominates the world of prestige beauty in France, as Chart II shows, whereas it’s makeup that is the largest prestige category in the U.S.

L’Oréal Moves Up in Germany
It seems that persistence wins the day. Whereas Germany has always been a strong European market for P&G, French beauty giant L'Oréal has had to struggle to impress its next-door neighbors. But it looks as if L'Oréal's persistence has been paying off, as the following figures from the well-known Brigitte publishing house survey indicate (ChartIII).

The strategic imperative for L'Oréal to make its mark in Germany has clearly been considerable. It just goes to show how important persistence is when it comes to international marketing.

Colin Hession is Managing Director of Colin Hession Consulting, a specialist consultancy that focuses exclusively on Personal Care in Europe, in terms of commercial & marketing development.
Tel: +44-1202-710377•Fax: +44-1202-710399
email: ch@hessioncosmetics.com
website www.hessioncosmetics.com