Over the past 10 years we have watched No Shave November gain widespread acceptance. People initially used it as a good excuse to grow a beard before beards became so commonplace. By now everyone is accustomed to beards and the November tradition, so giving up a razor needs no explanation.
But this year’s No Shave November is different than past years. The difference hasn’t materialized yet – it won’t until Spring. But when it does, it will have ramifications (and opportunities) for wet shaving retailers.
The beard trend has peaked
Just a few short years ago headlines focused on how much men love their beards and how 2/3 of NY men surveyed sported one. As recently as August 2018 CNN declared that “Beards are Back” (about 5 years too late if you ask me).
But the beard trend appears to be receding. Those who want a beard already have one. Those who have a beard are considering their next look.
A recent survey sponsored by BIC in the UK notes that a majority of men now dislike beards. That’s a big deal and surely a welcomed relief for the behemoths of the shaving industry.
Cartridges lack character
If the tide is truly shifting away from beards we will see a lot of male grooming in the Spring. Many men will put a razor to their face for the first time in years.
That razor will be a cartridge in some cases. But many men will be looking for something with more character. They will be interested and open to the idea of traditional wet shaving for three reasons:
- The beards gave the men a level of uniqueness. When it comes time to shave it off they will be interested in achieving some uniqueness in their shave – a perfect opportunity for a safety or straight razor.
- Beards exposed many men to personal grooming products, such as beard oils, that they would have scoffed at before. They won’t be as averse to high-end grooming products as they might have been pre-beard.
- As I wrote in Becoming our Grandfathers people are increasingly embracing old-school practices that are slower and more meditative. They might actually enjoy their shave this time around.
Cartridges lack character. For a man who is looking for uniqueness, accustomed to premium grooming products, and open to enjoying the moment, traditional shaving is a much better fit than cartridges.
A lot of men will start shaving this Spring. It’s a perfect opening for wet shaving retailers.
Lessons from an MBA case study (that I can’t seem to find)
I read a case study years ago about a wine-growing region that was struggling to get recognition. I can’t find the case study to save my life, but the concept was simple enough.
The winemakers in the region knew they didn’t have the resources to market themselves as individuals. Instead of continuing to compete among each other for a tiny slice of the pie, they decided to make the pie bigger. They pooled their money and agreed to market themselves as a region, rather than as individual wineries. The move was successful…otherwise it probably wouldn’t have become a case study.
I don’t know the inner workings of the traditional wet shaving industry. I don’t own a storefront or an online business.
What I do know is that the global men’s grooming industry is a $21B (US) industry. While I love and support the artisans, craftsmen and specialty retailers in the wet shaving industry, I am almost certain that corporate giants make up the vast majority of that $21B.
The piece of the pie for traditional wet shaving is probably small. It makes me wonder what those in the community can do to help make it bigger. Does No Shave November provide an opportunity?
An idea for the traditional wet shaving industry
The goal of this blog is to share how traditional wet shaving can give men better shaves and clearer skin. I want to see the traditional wet shaving industry do well. I wondered if the peaking beard trend and No Shave November provides an opportunity for wet shaving retailers. I think it does.
Here is my idea. It might be great and it might be awful. It would certainly take leadership and coordination that I don’t have to offer.
- Establish Wet Shaving Week(s) as an event [i.e. marketing campaign] in the Spring when many men will shed their winter beards.
- In the spirit of the wine case study, recruit wet shaving retailers to focus their marketing on the event, rather than their companies for 1-2 weeks
- Ask each retailer to offer a $100 intro shaving kit for $50
- Direct all traffic to a central site that features pictures/links to all of the intro shaving kits. This will generate click-throughs to individual retailers
- Collect a modest fee from participating retailers for collective advertising
The details may vary, but the idea is to pool resources for a brief period of time to expose people to the idea of wet shaving. It gives people exposure to many wet shaving retailers. By pooling the resources of many small companies for a couple weeks the collective stands a fighting chance of being heard.
If this is a bad idea it will disappear into the blogosphere. If it’s a good idea someone will run with it. If it is a great idea a corporate giant will launch a marketing campaign to make sure it is completely drown out.
I hope it falls somewhere in the middle. I think the small craftsmen, artisans, and retailers in the wet shaving market have a lot to offer. I want to see them do well and I hope this idea has some value. Regardless, there will be a lot of people shaving for the first time in years, and I see a great opportunity for traditional wet shaving.