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Total razors and blade sales/units ran into negative sales territory, except for disposables, in 2012 across multiple mass-market retail channels. Several factors are responsible for this, according to Shannon Romanowski, senior beauty and personal care analyst – reports at Chicago-based market research firm Mintel.
“Disposable razors have seen significant product improvements, helping to close the performance gap between disposable and nondisposable razors," Romanowski said. "In addition to improved performance, disposables are offered at a lower price point. Shoppers are motivated by low price in the shaving category, particularly as the cost of nondisposable razors and refill cartridges creeps higher. Private label has also become a factor in the category, as store brands are closely mimicking the performance of branded products.”
Does this mean that razor systems have hit a wall with consumers in terms of price points? “Shoppers are extremely price-driven in this category, and shaving is viewed as more of a chore, as opposed to something they want to spend a lot of money on,” notes Romanowski. “Consumers are likely exhibiting cost-cutting behaviors when shopping the segment, such as buying store brands, seeking price incentives and buying in bulk. Finally, some shoppers may be leaving the segment due to the increased popularity of facial hair among young men, along with the improved affordability of professional hair-removal services, hair-removal devices and electric razors. Long-lasting results are an important benefit to shoppers, and if they are going to spend in the category, they may turn to professional services or more permanent hair removal solutions.”
As to how consumers are viewing razors/blades in terms of value/price versus performance, Romanowski acknowledges the importance of performance, but notes that “price is a driver as well, especially among women. Men are more convenience-driven and will buy what they know, within a limited brand set.”
To offer better value among their portfolio of products, manufacturers “are trying to capitalize on the multifunctional trend that is prevailing in the beauty and personal care category,” she points out. “For example, women’s razors that also trim the bikini line, men’s razors that can remove hair on the head/body, and skin care benefits in razors (moisturizing or shaving cream bars surrounding the razor).”
In a highly competitive market for razors and blades that involves multi-distribution channels, supermarkets can best maintain and grow the category by focusing on male shoppers, Romanowski suggests. “Men do represent a stronger growth opportunity, as they are less price-driven when compared to women and are also more brand-loyal, as a result of being convenience-minded shoppers, most likely,” she explains.
Citing findings that 71 percent of men age 18-34 are interested in smaller or travel-sized shaving products, compared with 54 percent of total respondents, Romanowski notes: "Smaller-sized products are a great way to introduce new products to consumers, since these items tend to be less expensive and therefore are considered a lower-risk purchase. Also, since most men require some hair removal, they may be interested in single-use or travel-sized items that can be easily toted in a carry-on bag, gym bag, etc. Lastly, smaller sizes allow for creative merchandising (i.e., secondary placement), since these products can be placed by the checkout aisle as well as by other related product aisles, including skin care and hair care.”