Source: Unsplash

Brands with a posher offer are standing out across the larger male grooming category

It’s been a year of two halves,” says Matt Thomas, senior director of grooming at Gillette owner P&G. He’s talking, of course, about the performance of the men’s shave market, which has shed £23.5m across razors & blades and preparations. Home-working and a lack of social occasions meant fellas had little reason to shave in the six months to March 2021, says Thomas. Since then, however, Brits have got back on the move, and “it’s been incredibly exciting to work in this category. Guys each week are shaving more and more.”

With suppliers eyeing a revival, it’s brands with a posher offer that are standing out across the larger male grooming category, says Iulia Preda, NielsenIQ senior client analyst. She points to Harry’s and the nascent King C Gillette as key examples – in shaving and skincare respectively. “Despite higher price points than established brands, both attracted shoppers looking to treat themselves to a premium experience.”


In razors & blades, Harry’s has bucked the downward trend with aplomb, growing volume sales by 30.7% despite an average pack price of £9.08 – compared with the £7.78 of sector leader Gillette.

Bulldog Skincare is the only other brand to have seen unit sales rise in razors & blades. They’re up by 36.1% after the September 2020 launch of a premium razor with a handle made from recycled beer bottles. “We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our sustainability credentials,” says Bulldog general manager James Barnes.

It’s not the only one. Gillette simplified its core lineup of reusable razors in February and put them into cardboard packaging. The move is expected to eliminate more than 66 tonnes of plastic – and it’s already made the shave fixture “100% more shoppable” claims Thomas.

It was followed in August by a refillable shaving preps range from The Bluebeards Revenge. “Even in the teeth of the Covid and Brexit storm we have completely reviewed and adjusted our packaging,” says MD David Hildrew, who predicts greater “demands on manufacturers to be even more eco-conscious” in the year to come.

Top Launch 2021

Gillette Skin | P&G

Gilette Skin

Source: P&G

About 70% of chaps have facial skin issues but only 30% use skincare products, says Gillette. Hence the launch this autumn of Skin – the shave giant’s first major push into skincare. The six-strong lineup is “designed to prepare, protect and replenish”, adds the brand, while offering “diverse options to allow men to customise their personal grooming routine”. The “ultra sensitive” SKUs include Face Wash, Shave Mousse and Moisturiser, with rsps from £4.50.

The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2021: who’s up, who’s down – and our overview of the key trends