Byline: Chantal Tode

NEW YORK — The Gillette Company, a manufacturer of shaving products, is trying to break out of the confines of the men’s grooming category.
Last month, Gillette started shipping Gillette Series Body Wash for men in three scents — Pacific Light, Wild Rain and Cool Wave. The new line is the first under the Gillette Series brand not to be tied directly to shaving.
Michele Szynal, communications manager for Gillette, said this will be a relatively small launch. Industry sources predict sales for the line could reach $7 million in its first year. Currently, the largest portion of men’s grooming sales come from fragrances and shaving products.
The company hopes its Gillette Series Body Wash business will grow as the body wash category matures and as male acceptance increases for a wider variety of men’s grooming products.
Gillette Series Body Washes are packaged in bottles shaped to resemble the deodorants and other items under the Gillette Series brand, which is available in a wide array of retail outlets, from drugstores and discounters to supermarkets and convenience stores. The plastic bottle has a hook so it can be hung up in the shower and the contents dispensed with one hand. Each 8.5-oz. bottle retails for $3.59.
The launch will be supported with a $5 million advertising campaign. Print ads will appear in the June issues of magazines such as Sports Illustrated and People.
Gillette is banking on its belief that the body wash market will evolve in the U.S., just as it has in Europe, said Szynal. Gillette, Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive, Beiersdorf’s Nivea and Unilever all have body washes targeted exclusively at men in the European marketplace, according to Szynal.
The body wash segment, estimated as a $400 million market for this year, is the fastest-growing portion of the personal cleansing category, according to industry sources.
Until recently, there wasn’t much difference between body washes. Now that more manufacturers are in the category, it is more competitive, and marketers are developing product to meet specific needs, such as body washes for sensitive skin. Gillette is the first to introduce one directed at men.
Gillette Series Body Washes do not come with a pouf sponge, unlike many other body washes. Research indicated “men didn’t like them,” Szynal said. “They said it didn’t feel like it was cleansing them.”
Gillette also hopes Gillette Series Body Washes will tap into the growth of the men’s grooming category in recent years.
According to a report from research firm Packaged Facts, the men’s grooming category grew 13.5 percent in all outlets between 1990 and 1994, reaching $2.7 billion at retail.
Fragrance was the fastest-growing category during this period; skin care came in second. The report predicts that retail sales for men’s grooming will reach $3.2 billion in 1999. Packaged Facts cited growing acceptance for grooming products among baby boomers and Generation X consumers and the increasing number of unmarried men as driving factors in the category’s growth.
How common male acceptance of grooming products is remains a question among marketers. Many executives in the beauty industry believe that getting American men to purchase grooming products presents a significant challenge to the category’s further expansion. Women are generally considered to be the primary purchasers of men’s grooming products.
This is why Gillette has tied new products as closely as possible to its shaving line. “When we launched the Pacific Light fragrance in 1996, we did some research and found out that men aren’t into the primping and the total grooming concept,” said Szynal.
“If you give them skin care options within their shaving routine, then they like it. They don’t want to add another step to a process that they think takes too long already,” she continued. “Men are creatures of habit, and no matter what we try to sell men, shaving is the core of their habit.”
To date, beauty salons and their vendors have been the most aggressive in taking advantage of growth in the men’s grooming business. The reason why, according to industry executives, is that salons encourage men to try products before they buy.
American Crew, a salon-based line of men’s hair care and grooming products, was created in 1994. Last year, the company was purchased by Revlon. By this year’s fourth quarter, American Crew expects to have an advertising campaign in consumer magazines.
Also in the salon arena, Matrix introduced a men’s line called Icon in December 1996, and Nexxus is reportedly contemplating a men’s line.
Men’s grooming counters in department stores, once nearly the sole domain of Estee Lauder’s Aramis, are also experiencing growth. Today, counters are populated by brands ranging from Molton Brown to Polo Sport and others.
Finally, in the specialty retail arena, The Body Shop and Kiehl’s, among others, have introduced men’s grooming lines.

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