Fashion & Beauty

Nowhere but up for male grooming

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While the boom in men's grooming has been much talked about for years, the category is finally coming into its own, with a frenzy of launches and relaunches that translate into dollar signs for magazine publishers and a blitz of promotional activity.

The list of companies pushing new or newly revamped men's lines reads like a virtual who's who of the beauty world: Clinique, Aramis, Origins, L'Oreal and Kiehl's Since 1851.

"As bigger companies on the mass and prestige side recognize [men's grooming] is a huge untapped market, they're putting out a lot of products and technology to become players," says Nancy Berger Cardone, VP-publisher of Conde Nast Publications' Allure. Recognizing the gold rush, Allure this December plans to provide a vehicle for the new cache of ad dollars. It will create a special men's grooming supplement offering its female readership tips on how to guide and make over their men. Of course, it will feature ads for men's products that would typically bypass the title.

Conde Nast's men's shopping mag, Cargo, has itself been taking advantage of the burgeoning trend, with sales for ads in the men's grooming category for 2005 already doubling those in 2004, according to Alan Katz, Cargo's VP-publisher. In a reader panel study recently, 70% of Cargo readers said they are "totally" or "very" into learning about and purchasing skincare and skincare products.

In 2004, men's prestige skincare sales in U.S. department stores grew 13% to $59 million, growth that marked the category's highest level in six years and represented twice the growth of the total $2.1 billion skincare market, according to NPD Beauty, a division of researcher NPD Group.

According to Junie Hudson, NPD account associate, the fact that men are increasingly concerned with their appearance is evidenced by the growth of anti-aging products, which now make up a greater share of the men's prestige skincare market than the traditional leading segment, shaving products.

EXTENDING CLINIQUE LINE

Estee Lauder Cos.'s Clinique Skin Supplies for Men brand, a trailblazer when it launched in 1976, is the leader in the category with a roughly 41% share, according to the line's director of marketing, Leigh Smiler. Clinique recently retooled its original 18 products and introduced an additional eight products, among them a new anti-aging formula, Maximum Hydrator. The initiatives have meant a surge in advertising and more aggressive on-counter promotions. An in-house created ad campaign ran in magazines, including Conde Nast's Vanity Fair and GQ, Cargo, and Rodale's Men's Health. Clinique will also have an on-counter gift-with-purchase this June, offering a Dobb kit to pack grooming essentials and its M Shave Aloe Gel free with two-product purchase.

"There was a tipping point in late 2003 when shows like Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and ABC's "Extreme Makeover" became popular and brought men's grooming out of the closet, and since then we've seen a dramatic increase," says Ms. Smiler. Clinique's corporate siblings, Aramis, Origins and Estee Lauder, are all likewise catering to the growth in the men's category with new initiatives. Aramis in May added to its Lab Series skincare line with new Skin Resurfacing Scrub and Skin Revitalizer that cater to the growing trend of male facial procedures, Origins plans to announce in the fall a newly expanded line of men's products for next spring and Estee Lauder has announced a tie-in with former Gucci designer Tom Ford that is expected to include men's products for 2007.

The trend is also affecting the mainstream drugstore channels. L'Oreal Paris Senior VP-Marketing Rob Robillard estimates that the men's skincare sector now totals $500 million in the U.S. alone and is growing fast with 20% of American men using moisturizer and another 30% on the cusp and likely to use one in the next year. Such incremental growth opportunity has prompted L'Oreal to launch a new line, Men's Expert, which includes anti-aging products such as Hydra-Power Invigorating Moisturizer, with a roughly $15 million ad and promotional budget. L'Oreal is pushing the line at sporting events and in gyms. Beiersdorf's Nivea is defending its turf against L'Oreal's anti-aging onslaught with such fare as Revitalizing Eye Cream Q10.

L'Oreal's attention to men's anti-aging products is trickling as well to its luxury beauty brand, Kiehl's. Although Kiehl's boasts a higher-than-average number of male customers (roughly 30%,) the retail chain and upscale department store brand will launch its first anti-aging product, Fortifying Baobab Skin Therapy, as well as the Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap this fall. It's planning store events such as shave days to promote its new offerings.

"Guys already come into our stores for many of our unisex hair products and we have a great heritage in shaving products, but slowly they've been buying a few more moisturizing and cleansing products, and now we're addressing that fact with specific products," says Kiehl's president, Philip Clough. After all, with many more choices out there now, Kiehl's has to keep its male customers happy-and looking young.

Strategy

Marketers are moving out from beyond store promotions and demos to hawking goods in gyms and at sporting events