RACHEL BROWN - NOVEMBER 16, 2023
Last month, Unilever announced it sold a majority stake in Dollar Shave Club to Nexus Capital Management, and Reuters reported Carlyle has put Every Man Jack up for sale. Chronicling movements in men’s grooming, CPG Wire wrote, “It feels like the end of an era for the category…The men’s grooming category does seem like a race to the bottom.” The consumer packaged goods news aggregator concluded that it doesn’t “foresee Carlyle, Unilever, or anyone finding meaningful profits there over a sustained period.”
Against the backdrop of developments in men’s grooming and perennial projections that the men’s category is on a skyward march, for this edition of our ongoing series posing questions relevant to indie beauty, we asked 16 founders and executives at brands in the men’s space the following questions: Do you think there’s a “race to the bottom” happening in men’s grooming? What challenges do you believe face the segment, and how can it overcome them?
Yes, there is a “race to the bottom” in some categories, but those are brands whose products are already value-priced and found in mass distribution. Their corporate and private equity owners are not well suited for slim and shrinking margin businesses.There is another movement at the higher end for products with exclusive formulations, appealing to specific demographics and specialty distribution, and those brands seem to have some growth. The brands in the middle are the brands at most risk in the next year.There are plenty of product choices and options in grooming products for men, maybe too many. The challenges are always how to encourage innovation and introduction of new advanced products and how to bring them to market effectively and efficiently. How do we foster the development of small brands in a high-cost, highly competitive environment? Marketing options are voluminous, but complex and complicated. How do brands—new and established—break through the chatter and clutter digitally?One idea is for brands to overcome the challenges is to collaborate across categories and develop and market products together to combine resources for efficiencies and reach new and broader audiences.