Gillette’s Worst Nightmare: The Beard


There was a time when Mr. T was an outlier. But now, everyone from Joaquin Phoenix to LeBron James is sporting a beard.

But while the men of the 2000-teens are enjoying a much-needed break from shaving, companies like Procter & Gamble are scrambling to cope with a consumer trend that’s impacting the razor business.

Consumer data has shown that the average number of shaves per week has gone from 3.7 to 3.2 over the past decade, which results in about two fewer shaves per month. And while it may not sound like a lot, it’s been enough to pull razor and blade sales down more than 7% in 2017 and 5% so far in 2018, market-wide.

P&G, who owns brands like Gillette, Braun, and Venus, has also struggled to retain market share due to increasing competition from subscription services like Dollar Shave Club, and its U.S. market share has dropped more than 13 percentage points since 2012.

But P&G has shifted tactics to fight back against the disruption in competition and consumer preference. Last year, Gillette cut its prices by 12% in what was referred to as an “intervention” to expand its lower cost options. The company also developed its own text-to-order subscription platform. Besides this, styling tools and beard grooming tools – as well as balms and oils – are helping round out the offering to better match “the continued societal shift to fewer shaves.”

Guys under 45 will continue to take the lead on the facial hair renaissance, as they try to appear more laid back and authentic, though – as with any consumer trend – it could change on a dime. The last big trend towards facial hair coincided with the late 70s disco era, according to GQ, before the 1980s metal trend took the party from the front to the back.

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