Changing male grooming habits in the UK

The male grooming market in the UK lost £31m in the 12 weeks to 14 June, compared with the same period in 2019. What has changed?
14 August 2020
beard man uk
Maya Zawislak

Strategic Insight Director, Global Personal Care Usage Panels

Matt Maxwell

Strategic Insight Director, Worldpanel Division

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It’s fair to say that men have decided that staying at home and distancing from people means they don’t have to take as much time over their grooming, but what has actually changed?

Maintaining a routine

Men do seem to be continuing with their regular personal care routine, with the same number of personal occasions each week (36) in the three months to June 2020 as in the Jan – March period (while women’s occasions have declined). Men are still cleaning themselves, but are doing less hair styling, shaving and applying fragrance (down 33%).

Previously, more than a third of men would say they had no skin conditions. In the latest data, recording concerns about spots and sensitive skin is on the rise. This could be due to working from home, or the problem of ‘maskne’ as we embrace face coverings.

The sales data

While overall value sales of toiletries grew 6% during the pre-lockdown period, male grooming products remained more or less flat compared with the same period a year ago. Once lockdown started, however, sales dropped 16.8% in the 12 weeks to 14 June, driven by declines in skincare, fragrances, razor blades and deodorants. Deodorant has lost 19.1% of unit sales, while razor blades – the category’s priciest sector – are down 16.6%. It would seem men working from home and social distancing haven’t felt a pressing need to smell nice or shave.

Now, prices have risen has brands try to make up for the losses: deodorant pack prices are up 3% and razors are up 3.1%.

The rise and rise of facial hair

20% of men say they are removing face/body hair less during lockdown, and in fact 5% say they have stopped altogether, according to a Kantar survey of 1036 respondents conducted on 10 August.

1 million fewer men in the UK describe themselves as clean-shaven in our data in the 3 months ending June 2020 compared to the 3 months ending March – beards are at an all-time high.

The DIY approach?

Barbers may be open again, but our survey during lockdown (April 2020) found that a quarter of UK men were asking partners, housemates or family members to cut their hair for them, and 42% were going to wait for hairdressers to reopen before tackling it.

We also saw from search trends that lots of people were researching hair clippers (a 181% rise in Google searches globally), and searches for beard trimmers were also up, but only by 36%.

Who cares?

Amongst men, consciousness about how they look is at an all-time low – those who agree that they “try to maintain my appearance throughout the day” is now at 41% vs 45% in March. Is it more about healthy skin/scalp rather than perfectly styled hair now? “Refreshing skin” and “making skin radiant” have grown as reasons for using face wash/cleanser – and “freshen up” occasions have grown, with this justification now accounting for 10% of all personal care occasions for men (up from 5%).

Unsuprisingly, “getting ready for work” has halved in significance as a trigger for personal care occasions.

As the UK reopens and we start meeting up with people, working from a real office and maybe eating in restaurants, it’s likely the demand for male grooming products will rise – and of course hygiene remains a priority to keep others safe. For more information on personal care usage and purchase in the UK, and what the latest trends mean for your brand, get in touch with our experts.

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