European Men's Grooming Market has Matured

By Georgina Caldwell, AsAssistant Editor, European Cosmetic Markets | March 5, 2007

The European men’s market is growing up, and this means that not only has male grooming become an acceptable part of the heterosexual male’s daily routine, but also to the manufacturer’s chagrin, those sales are levelling out. It seems that manufacturers have succeeded in convincing the European man that there’s no shame in looking after their appearance, but haven’t really managed to persuade them to part with much cash to do so.   

In France, the men’s market gained about 1% to reach a total value of $973 million  in 2005, according to ECM calculations, based on figures from the Fédération des Industries de la Parfumerie.
Germany’s results were more encouraging, with the IKW registering a 4.5% rise to $849 million for the men’s grooming market in 2006 and IRI Germany calculating a turnover of $1.4 billion—up 7.3%—for the men’s market in 2006 (including deodorants, shower products, shampoo, skin care, shaving preps and fragrance).

Italy’s results were skewed by the poor performance of the men’s fragrance category and an over-estimation of 2004’s figures on Unipro’s part, which saw the market drop 2.17% as a whole to $770 million. Men’s grooming, however, put in one of the few positive performances in the Italian cosmetics and toiletries market in 2005, adding 2.8% in sales to reach $357 million.

In sunny Spain treatments and cleansers were out in force, with market value up 31.9% in 2006 to reach nearly $36 million, according to IRI. The perfumery sector was also buoyant, growing 8.1% in value to $113 million.

The more mature UK market reported a less impressive, but nonetheless steady, rise in value—with TNS Worldpanel reporting growth of nearly 2% to $1.2 billion.

Across the Big 5 skin care was by far the best performing category in terms of percentage growth—although this is also the newest subsector, and in most cases, still the smallest in terms of value sales. It seems that men are buying into skin care regimes, but this gain has been made at the expense of the more traditional categories.

New is Exciting

The key to men’s hearts, it seems, is novelty. When a product excites them, they will invest in it. But should a product become too mundane, they won’t shell out more than they have to. This would seem to explain the drop in value experienced by several of the more commodity sub-sectors across the Big 5’s male markets.

What unites European men is that they sure are picky. Those who buy their own grooming products aren’t afraid to shop around, use the internet to research their purchases and if one retailer doesn’t stock what they’re after, they will seek it out elsewhere. In other words, men pay almost as much attention to their skin care purchases as they do to their acquisitions of various gadgets. And we all know how long it can take a guy to purchase a new set of irons!

Guys Demand Service

Men seem to prefer a service-led environment when it comes to making their skin care purchases and the perfumery and drugstore channels definitely attract the most customers across the Big 5. In France the selective channel reaps the majority of sales, Italy’s perfumery channel is similarly successful when it comes to skin care purchases and Germans like to frequent their drug stores for face creams and perfumeries for face cleansers. British men are the cheapest, shopping overwhelmingly at supermarkets and Boots (a major chemist chain). Yet, Brits still balk at private label products, which lost 4.6% in 2006.

Penetration of both shaving preps and skin care products is still wanting, proving that, despite the hype surrounding the budding men’s market, real men have yet to catch on. Across the Big 5 just 55% of men regularly use a shaving prep—and those who do average just four uses a week, according to TNS Worldpanel. Even the smoothest operators, the French, only managed a penetration of 62%.  Compare this to French women’s use of facial skin care products (86% and an average of 18 applications a week) and men’s grooming habits start to look decidedly shabby. Men’s involvement in skin care is even less substantial, just 23% across the Big 5 regularly use facial skin care products and 17% use body skin care products. In Italy these figures are as low as 9% and 8% respectively. Germany has the highest penetration within the Big 5.

A Drop in Launches

In terms of product innovation, the fierce NPD activity of the past two years seems to have died down of late. In fact, now that all of the big multinationals have jumped on board, the launch activity has been considerably quiet in the past year, and many of the strong brands in this market have spent the year re-evaluating their offering. Estée Lauder’s Lab Series dropped the Aramis tag from its packaging and re-evaluated its product lineup, coming back with a sleeker, more navigable range. In May, stablemate Origins came up trumps with the brand’s first full men’s line, with Fire Fighter Plus Beard buster and Easy Slider Pre-shave oil added to the company’s pre-existing offering. Shiseido debuted Shiseido Men Shaving Cream with the company’s Damage Defense Complex.

The big news of the year was Dior’s (LVMH) first foray into men’s skin care with Dior Homme Dermo System. Rival Lancôme (L’Oréal) responded in kind with a total transformation of it’s Lancôme Homme brand to Lancôme Men, fronted by Clive Owen.

In the mass market, the UK’s King of Shaves brand (KMI) tied up a deal with John Terry, the England football  captain, for its K2 Skinvestment series, which aims to inject skin care concepts into shaving products.  

As for shaving itself, we’ve asked it once and we’ll ask it again—just how far can razor technology actually go?  Well, Wilkinson Sword put some energy into its answer with Quattro Titanium Energy, with a motor located in the head of the razor, titanium coated blades and aloe vera lubricating strip among its attributes. Clearly, men are still susceptible to the bigger is better maxim and inevitably Gillette has taken its quest for the ultimate razor one step further with the launch of Fusion, a razor boasting five blades, 15 microfins, battery-powered micro-pulses, precision trimmer and control handle.

In the men’s fragrance market, launch activity was prolific, as several of the big feminine fragrance launches of 2005 introduced a complementary male fragrance in 2006. Prada (Puig), for example, made a splash with its first male fragrance in September, Burberry (Inter Parfums) followed up Burberry London with Burberry London for Men. Lauder’s DKNY license bowed with Red Delicious for Men and Coty introduced Calvin Klein Euphoria for Men.

Relatively new to the men’s market is the influence that celebrities are having on the fragrance counters. While celebrity licenses have traditionally been inspired by famous women and formulated for women, the men’s market has caught on to the enormous marketing potential of this budding market. Thus this year we’ve seen Sean Combs’ Unforgiveable bow onto the European market. Clive Owen is fronting Lancôme’s Hypnose for men and despite David’s hop over the pond to play for an American team, Coty’s House of Beckham has seen the footballer launch his second fragrance as part of duo Intimately Beckham. Watch out America!

The men’s market attracts a lot of media attention and analyst column inches, but in Europe the phenomenon of men’s grooming is still relatively small. Lackluster sales throughout the Big 5 prove that the men’s market isn’t rocketing skyward any time soon, and steady sales and penetration figures suggest that the majority of European men are still unwilling to take the plunge when it comes to personal grooming.