Beards are bang on trend. Just look at the decline in razors for proof. This is having such an impact on Gillette that P&G is heading to Hollywood to try and get the stars to shave off their beards.

They might be wasting their time. “This is not a trend,” says Bulldog founder Simon Duffy, pointing to the host of NPD there’s been of late for the more hirsute gentlemen, from beard oils to razors designed to help men style their whiskers. “It’s here to stay.”

More brands seem to be taking this view. In October, Wilkinson Sword launched the Hydro 5 Groomer (see below), complete with an electric beard trimmer, and in the new year P&G will launch the Gillette ProGlide Flexball, a razor mounted on a ball to help men shave around their beards. 

“We recognise the market trend and are trying to drive the category harder,” says Jared Regan, Gillette brand manager at P&G, who also promises increased marketing to connect better with younger consumers and those who are shaving for the first time.

Gillette and Wilkinson could certainly do with a boost. As in the wider market, both brands’ lacklustre value performance mask steep declines in volumes, reflecting both a flight to discounters and pound shops) among consumers, as well as a more general switch in promotions to single-unit price deals rather than multibuy.

The market’s dependence on deals is increasing. In male toiletries, volume on deal is up 1.7% points to 50.4% and in skincare it’s up 3.8% points to 50.5%, suggesting men are price sensitive when it comes to toiletries. Volumes of Lynx, for example, are down 6.8% following a 2.8% rise in average price.

Unilever says Lynx has been hit by the decline of its female offering and will be boosted by Gold Temptation, launched in September to tap demand for premium men’s toiletries. Indeed, premium brands such as Bulldog, Mancave and Rockface are in strong growth.

“We’ve doubled the size of our business in Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose,” explains Bulldog’s Duffy. “retailers are giving us more space and better space.”

Wilkinson Sword

Top launch: Hydro 5 Groomer Wilkinson Sword

Four tools; one aim: better-groomed men. As well as five ultra-thin blades, Hydro 5 features a gel reservoir to help hydrate skin, an adjustable power trimmer with a wide comb for those who like to sculpt their facial hair à la Craig David, and a flipper to allow shavers to get the blades into tight spaces for a more precise shave.

Proof that Wilkinson Sword is thinking creatively about how to turn a challenge - the rise of the beard - into an opportunity.