BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

More men are making a beeline for the supermarket health and beauty care aisle.Hair care, skin care, grooming, fragrance and shaving products targeted toward males have flooded the market as men have become more accepting of these products in their grooming regimen. As a result, retailers are primping their HBC sections. Product lines like Axe body sprays, Maxim hair care products for men, and Nivea

More men are making a beeline for the supermarket health and beauty care aisle.

Hair care, skin care, grooming, fragrance and shaving products targeted toward males have flooded the market as men have become more accepting of these products in their grooming regimen. As a result, retailers are primping their HBC sections. Product lines like Axe body sprays, Maxim hair care products for men, and Nivea for Men and Neutrogena Men skin care lines are gaining shelf space and prominent displays in HBC departments and other appropriate areas of the store.

Retailers are changing with the times and taking advantage of the "metrosexual" trend, Jeff Lowrance, spokesman, Food Lion, Salisbury, N.C., told SN. "Metrosexual" is a buzzword referring to a man who takes extra care in his clothing, hair and skin.

"For years and years, beauty and appearance has been a selling point for women, and it has become more so for men as well," he said. "It's probably more of a societal shift that retailers and manufacturers are catching up with. Guys aren't getting off the hook quite as easy as they used to."

Sales of men's toiletries have grown by 8% since 2001, jumping 4% from $1.19 billion in 2001 to $1.25 billion in 2002, and climbing another 4% in 2003 to $1.3 billion, said Marcia Mogelonsky, senior market analyst, Mintel International Group, Chicago; the sales data are based on information obtained from Information Resources Inc., Chicago. Additionally, retail sales of men's toiletries in supermarkets increased 8% from 2000 to 2002.

In supermarkets, "deodorant -- cologne type," the segment Axe fits into, has grown 638.2% in dollar sales and 562.0% in units during the 52 weeks ending Nov. 1, 2003, according to the Strategic Planner of ACNielsen, Schaumburg, Ill. In a year, it's become a $24 million segment.

"There's a confluence of factors [affecting this segment]. Boomers are proud of their looks, and Generation Y wants to look good from the start," Mogelonsky said.

Men's grooming has more opportunities for point-of-sale impulse displays, and supermarkets are taking advantage of this by trying to attract more male shoppers, Mogelonsky noted. One way supermarkets are cashing in is by expanding their HBC offerings, he said.

Food Lion has promoted new-product launches like the Schick Quattro four-blade razor, produced by Schick, Milford, Conn., and Axe body sprays, a hybrid fragrance and deodorant line produced by the home and personal care division of Unilever, Chicago, through prominent floorstand displays wherever space allows. The retailer "has been really pleased with [the display units]," Lowrance said.

"The stereotypical male hones in on what he's looking for, gets it, and goes to pay for it," he said. "These floorstands help the new products stand out, and some even have space for educational and product information materials."

Supermarkets have a big opportunity to merchandise to men by cross-promoting HBC products in grocery aisles where many men like to shop, like the chip and snack aisle, the checkout area and the soda section, said Jim Geikie, director of customer marketing, antiperspirant/deodorant, Unilever.

"Such innovative, in-store merchandising has really been successful in catching guys' attention," Geikie said.

"Men's grooming and personal care products are hot right now," he said. "From a shopper standpoint, it's a combination of men buying these products for themselves; men asking their wives, girlfriends and mothers to pick certain items up for them; and women bringing items home for their men to try." Axe will expand its product line to include an antiperspirant deodorant, Axe Dry, in January, he said.

Supermarkets are "well positioned to capture men young and old, and trial should be something grocers should win at," said Diane Garber, analyst, In Sight Communications, Buffalo Grove, Ill.

"Starting from improved razors to shaving cream to various skin and hair treatments, men are more into stylish grooming. You're finding a lot of men who are pleased to learn about better products and specifically targeted products with new performance that's meaningful." For example, Garber mentioned razors with more blades and other features. "This continues to pit grocery against drug stores and mass merchandisers, but grocery stores offer huge convenience. Grocery stores have a very strong chance of capturing more than their fair share of the market," she said.

This change in the grooming category "has been taken out of a pure women's atmosphere -- everyone needs good grooming. It's a little indulgence you can feel good about, and it doesn't break the bank," Garber said.

With increased marketing and new-product introductions, men are becoming more comfortable with brands that have traditionally been identified with women, said Jim Wisner, president, Wisner Retail Marketing, Libertyville, Ill. "There are a lot of brands that have historically been women's lines that are now being ported over to the men's side. These include products like colognes and lotions that have carved out fairly strong brand identities that are not based entirely on emotional appeal, but they really work," he said.

"They perform as promised and, to some extent, appeal to a male who may be a little more straightforward and left-brained in making decisions about these kinds of items," Wisner said.

This directly relates to the metrosexual trend and men who "feel so secure about their masculinity that they can utilize products or brands that historically may have been thought of as women's products, even though they perform the same kinds of functions and may work very well for men," he said.

"It remains to be seen" where the men's HBC category can grow from here, Lowrance of Food Lion said. "It will be interesting to see to what extent males begin to feel more compelled to be as beauty-conscious as women. And it will be interesting to see if this is an area that could be some growth in consumer products."