Behind razors, deodorants remain the dominant sector in male grooming, accounting for 38% value share [52 TNS w/e 21 May 2006]. Despite growth slowing in the past year to 1.4%, there is still further room for improvement, as household penetration of male deodorants is lower than that of female, with about 10% of men not yet using it.

Men's ranges are less price-sensitive than their female and unisex equivalents and far more innovation-driven, says Sarah Kennedy, Gillette Series male skincare and deodorants business manager.

Men are also more drawn to modern packaging, because image plays an impor­tant role in their toiletry habits. "The deodorant category is full of activity with new variants and new packaging appearing to ­create standout," she says.

Unilever Home & Personal Care health and beauty brand director Matt Close adds: "A key part of this category is delivering a continual stream of new products and innovation. We are constantly engaged in developing better packaging and improved product formulations."

Unilever owns the dominant brand Lynx, as well as Sure for Men. The latter has had its masculine credentials substantially enhanced in the past year. Its ad campaign features men doing all manner of ludicrously macho things, such as hitching a ride to work on the undercarriage of a helicopter and jumping on cars.

The biggest innovation in the category, however, was last year's launch of 'total protection' vertical spray from Gillette, which was applied to Right Guard, Right Guard Xtreme and Gillette Series Cool Spray. Unilever, meanwhile, came up with the twist-lock cap for Sure for Men to ensure it stays securely locked.

Limited-edition cans, such as Sure for Men Sport special edition in a gold canister, and line extensions were also at large.

Unilever claims to have scored a hit with the launch of Lynx Click in January, but accepts that it may be more to do with the gizmo rather than the scent.

The idea is to keep score of the number of women you flirt with using a Lynx clicker. Close admits: "It was hugely successful due to the concept of clicking rather than the fragrance."

Click was launched across antiperspirant, body spray and shower gel formats and backed by a £7m ad campaign starring ­Hollywood heart-throb Ben Affleck.

What the future holds for Right Guard remains to be seen, as P&G has agreed to divest itself of the brand as part of the regulatory approvals process for its acquisition of Gillette. n

Facial skincare Put your best face forward

Male facial skincare is showing impressive growth. Estimates of the market's value vary according to whether post-shave products are included alongside pure facial skincare products such as moisturisers, but there is no doubt it is in good health.

According to TNS, sales of the skincare category are up almost 27% on the previous year. L'Oréal Paris, meanwhile, estimates that the potential market runs to 410 million men in Europe and the US and that male facial skincare penetration stands at just 11.8%, which means there still a lot to play for.

L'Oréal Paris upped its ­activity in the market with its comprehensive Men Expert range, which it launched in 2005.

Sara Lee has also entered the facial skincare market in earnest with the launch in March of Sanex for Men Face, which is based on a three-step 'cleanse, shave, care' regime. The range fits with the main Sanex for Men range, which includes deodorant, shower and shave products and which was launched in March last year in response to "a very real demand for a no-nonsense, effective product", the company says.

No-nonsense positioning is also pursued by long-established brand Simple, which relaunched its ­Simple Skin Defence For Men range last October as Simple For Men. All nine products in the range have been designed to reduce shaving irritation.

Education plays a vital role in the marketing mix for all men's products, but perhaps nowhere more so than in the emergent post-shave sector. According to Euromonitor International, growth is very much dependent on educating male consumers about why they need a post-shave application. "The key message used to target consumers is the idea that applying an alcohol-based fragranced lotion after shaving is extremely bad for the skin," its Men's Grooming Products UK report says.

Brands such as Gillette are ideally placed to fill the gap - their shaving credentials make men comfortable and confident of the brand. Bic is another brand trying to capitalise on its heritage with the launch in June of a range of shaving foams and gels under the Bic Comfort banner.

So far the more cosmetic, beauty-oriented products appear to appeal to a small number of wealthy and highly fashion-conscious men. It may be some time before the average bloke embraces tinted moisturiser, skin-perfecting gel or concealer, but immense potential remains for more accessible products that take the right tone and clothe themselves in masculine packaging. n