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Amazon has made no secret of its designs to become a leading destination for prestige beauty brands, and it’s firing an opening salvo today with the launch of a dedicated area for men’s grooming.
This story first appeared in the May 21, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Rebutting one common criticism — that the site’s visual presentation is the opposite of a prestige environment — the area’s homepage is a marked departure from the e-tail behemoth’s usual clutter, featuring a jaunty black mustache icon and large clean product shots as category landing areas.
“The Men’s Grooming store allows us to introduce a more curated shopping experience for men,” said Chance Wales, Amazon’s director of health, beauty and personal care, of the site, accessible at amazon.com/mensgrooming. “We’re very focused on providing a streamlined experience for the man who already has a grooming regimen and wants to be able to make purchases from one destination seamlessly. We are also offering a more editorial-rich experience for the man who wants to explore products, read reviews and change up his grooming regimen.”
In all, there are six categories, including shave, body care and skin care, and a range of prestige and mass products, including Gillette, Axe, American Crew, Ahava, Dove, Nivea and Baxter of California, a newcomer to the site.
Men’s Fitness magazine has partnered with Amazon on content, such as “5 Steps to the Perfect Shave.” J.P Mastey, creative director for Baxter of California, will also provide editorial content, Wales said.
Editorial sections include How-To Guides, designed to offer various steps for achieving results (such as kissable skin and trendy hair); Problem Solvers, designed to provide simple, one-product solutions; Men’s Essentials, intended to be a one-stop destination for purchasing everything for different regimen needs, and J.P’s Top 10, where Mastey’s content will live.
“The feel of the overall site is organized, so it’s easy to discover and purchase grooming must-haves,” Wales said, noting that he believes it is an example of how Amazon is enhancing the overall look and experience of shopping on its site. “We are always listening to our customers, and we know men are eager to have a destination just for them.”
In an interview in February, Wales cited Nielsen research indicating that Amazon’s current shopper base of 188 million active customers accounted for 74 percent of all offline cosmetics purchases in the previous 90 days — making the opportunities in beauty and grooming extremely significant for Amazon.com. At the time, Wales said, “2013 is Amazon’s year of beauty,” but offered few specifics. “We are planning on ending the year with a much different customer experience and selection than the one we currently have.”
Also in February, Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty industry analyst at the NPD Group, complimented the e-retailer’s skills in making customers feel like they are a part of a community, a strength Amazon is leveraging with the new men’s grooming area. “They give you product information, tell you what other people think about it, tell you what other people who bought it also bought,” Grant said. “Because there are so many people shopping with them, you feel a trust. You know they are going to offer you the best deal and unbiased information and convenience.”
Also, she said, home shopping channels such as QVC and HSN proved that brands selling in those alternative channels didn’t cause consumers to trade down. “If they play the Amazon card similarly, it will allow [smaller and midsize brands] to have a broader reach with consumers, rather than people thinking they’ve lost their prestige status.”
The new men’s grooming site is the latest move by the $61 billion Amazon to grab a bigger slice of the beauty and fashion pie. Later this year, the e-tailer will open a 40,000-square-foot photo studio in Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, that will shoot its fashion photos. In March, Amazon teamed with 10 Crosby Derek Lam to launch a store on the site dedicated to the contemporary line, its most visually sophisticated dedicated shop for fashion.