Out of the Shadows

This week we're going to examine a segment of the men's lifestyle market that has, for a while, remained in the “shadows.” The 5 o'clock shadows to be exact. That market being none other than...the men's shaving market.


“Right now,” feels like about the right time to discuss the issue as well because, like so many segments of the men's fashion/grooming/lifestyle market, the men's shaving space is in the midst of a rapid transformation. And, over the course of the next few blog posts, we'll discuss that transformation in detail, including how the market is evolving (business model), who the major players are, why it is evolving, and what the future holds.

But before we get into it all, we'll discuss where the men's shaving market is today and how we got here.

Morning Agony

Getting up early in the morning, particularly after a relatively sleepless night, sucks. Getting up early in the morning, after little sleep, and then having to cut your face with a sharp object sucks even more. (And now that I think about it, is very unsafe and kind of stupid...why the hell do we wield blades and cut our faces when tired?)

Anyhow, I digress. The point is: shaving is indisputably the worst.

Yet, so many of us go through this process every day, every other day, or in some cases, perhaps less frequently. And we generally do it without much fuss because shaving has become an accepted, necessary evil.

But it wasn't always this way. In fact, at one point in time, men enjoyed shaving (and I'm sure that there are a few of you who still do). Shaving was glamorized, relaxing, and there was even an “art” to shaving. In fact, men cherished the opportunity to go to their barber for a close, straight blade shave.

So what the hell happened?

Well, simply put: the demands on our time increased and society's expectations regarding facial hair did not. So, we were still expected to keep ourselves clean yet had less time to do so. Shaving became something we had to do. A chore forced upon us. A task. Something that we just wanted to be over with so we could go back to doing everything else that we had to do.

Gone were the days of well designed, aesthetically pleasing shaving products as design took a back seat to utility.

Companies like Gillette and Schick prided themselves on finding ways to shorten the shaving process and given that societal expectations regarding grooming hadn't evolved, they succeeded in adopting this strategy.

In fact, Gillette and Schick earn 85% of the $2.4 billion/year spent in the U.S. on men's shaving products.

However, recently, disruptive companies in the men's grooming space have been causing the big guns to take notice. Companies like Harry's, Dollar Shaving Club, and Bevel, are built with a different goal in mind: to bring joy back into the “art” world. The world of shaving. And, with their new business models, unique value propositions, lean yet effective marketing campaigns, and innovative use of technology, they are doing just that.

Tomorrow we'll discuss who these companies are and just how they are achieving their visions.
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