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Chris Salgardo Foresees a Men’s Boom for Kiehl’s

Kiehl’s U.S. president, Chris Salgardo, sees a men’s boom ahead.

As he looks back on Kiehl’s past, Chris Salgardo, who was named president of the U.S. business in 2006, also has his eyes firmly on the future.

First up: expansion. The brand will open a freestanding store in Hawaii on Oahu in April, and Salgardo is eyeing new markets and adding stores to existing ones, such as a store at the World Trade Center and new locations on the West Coast, which Salgardo regards as the label’s second home. Its first retail outlet outside of its own freestanding store was at Bergdorf Goodman in 1971, followed by Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills in 1977. The brand is now sold in Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, Macy’s and Lord & Taylor.

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Not surprisingly for a man who has used the brand for 26 years, Salgardo also sees men’s as a huge market opportunity — an opinion he shares with IRI and NPD, which identified the combined mass and prestige men’s treatment category in the U.S. as a $6.9 billion business in 2015, a gain of 3 percent over the previous year. And he believes the category will continue to grow. For instance, Salgardo said, 58 percent of males 18 to 24 and 63 percent of males 25 to 34 globally use a facial moisturizer.

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“Men are more conscious than ever of their appearance, and more open to talking about it or treating it than ever before,” Salgardo said, adding that “2015 was the first year there was more interest in men’s hair than women’s hair on Google [by around 6 percent], meaning real guys are showing a real interest.”

And for men, it’s not all about shaving cream and toothpaste anymore. “It’s not just that men are becoming more comfortable with committing to regular grooming routines; we’re actually hearing increasing demands for more sophisticated formulas such as antiaging serums and eye-area treatments,” Salgardo said.

Kiehl’s consumers are 40 percent male and 60 percent female at present, Salgardo said. “Last year, the men’s category saw 8 percent market growth, heavily driven by activity in the antiaging arena, where Kiehl’s was up 34 percent, and the oil-control category, where Kiehl’s was up 23 percent,” he said. “And though Kiehl’s products can all be used by both genders, we know that men tend to have thicker, oilier, sweatier, denser skin. With that in mind, our men’s products are formulated with ingredients that specifically target that skin type. Our routine recommendation for most men is: cleanse, shave, moisturize.”

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Salgardo aims for Kiehl’s new Age Defender franchise, due in April, to fill some of those needs. “The Age Defender collection works to strengthen skin, minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and visibly firm skin. Our chemists identified the unique requirements and challenges of men’s skin and responded with a 1-2-3 solution: Power Serum, Moisturizer and Eye Repair, which is my powerhouse product.” The serum will sell for $50 for 2.5 oz., the moisturizer for $40 for 1.7 oz and $52 for ww2.5 oz., and the Eye Repair $30 for 0.5 oz. While Salgardo declined to discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated that the Age Defender lineup could generate first-year retail sales of $8 million.

The serum, the brand’s first for men, is designed to penetrate the skin to deliver active and highly concentrated ingredients — cypress extract, a blend of hydrolyzed proteins and adenosine — that are lightweight and fast-absorbing. “Our serum is the ultimate warrior, while our moisturizer is the ultimate guardian protecting the skin’s barrier, all topped off by my powerhouse product, Eye Repair, to lift and reduce wrinkles and dark circles,” Salgardo said.

Men’s skin thickness rapidly declines and hydration levels decrease as it ages. Deeper expression lines and other lifestyle factors such as smoke, UV rays, pollution, poor preventative behavior and insufficient skin-care regimens also contribute to differences in aging between men and women.

Also in April, Kiehl’s will introduce Smooth Glider Precision Shave Lotion. “This builds on our heritage of formulating shave products specifically for men’s skin,” Salgardo said. “This new, unique lightweight gel-lotion is infused with Cupuacu butter, Kukui nut oil and cypress and eucalyptus essential oils. It is made for all skin types and is designed to enable a faster, more precise shave, especially for those with sideburns, etc., that they need to work around. It instantly softens facial hair and provides hydrating protection.” Industry sources estimated that it could do $4 million to $5 million in its first year on counter.

One of Salgardo’s favorites is due in June: Nourishing Beard Grooming Oil. “Beards started to gain traction and become a trend phenomenon in 2014,” Salgardo said. “Now beard oil is in the top five Google searches amongst men, and 67 percent of New York men have some sort of facial hair. So in June we will launch our first beard grooming oil. It tames unruly facial hair while deeply nourishing dry, itchy skin underneath.”

The oil will sell for $27 for 1 ounce. Sources estimated that it could do $3 million at retail in its first year on counter.

Salgardo also published the brand’s first book, “Manmade,” in December with Random House imprint Clarkson Potter.

“‘Manmade’ is the first of its kind in that it not only provides answers to basic concerns, but also offers a unique blend of product-agnostic guidance and lifestyle tips,” Salgardo said. “And it’s showing: 31 percent of ‘Manmade’ book buyers are first-time Kiehl’s shoppers.”

Salgardo also discussed the company’s strong philanthropic efforts. “As a company that’s philanthropic, giving back to the communities in which we do business has always been a part of our heritage,” he said. “To be able to do the HIV and AIDS, children’s, environmental and women’s work that we do is the greatest gift. We’ve proven you can be a successful company while doing good in the world.”