If you ask any executive of a consumer packaged goods company where they see growth, they will certainly mention the "male grooming" category.
Last July, Peter Clay, Vice President, Gillette Brand Franchise Leader said of his Gillette's new marketing campaign that "it supports our strategy to build our global leadership in men's grooming."
Even more convining watch their actions. In 2005, Procter & Gamble spent $ 57 billion to purchase Gillette Co. and in 2009 even purchased high-end shaving retailer, The Art of Shaving, for $60 million.
Futhermore, in 2009 consumers spent $61.3 billion in the category and many analysts expect that number to rise. Of course, money talks and with those numbers every CPG executive is listening.
While the appeal of $61 billion is undeniable, they're using some hairy strategy in their quest for men's grooming dominance.
For instance, P&G is staking claim at the morning male routine with two brands offering full lines of nearly identical products. Old Spice currently offers a mind numbing number of varieties of aftershaves, deodorants, body wash, body spray and cologne. While, P&G purchased the brand in 1990, the proliferation of Old Spice products began in the mid-2000's in reaction to Unilever's Axe brand and the grooming boom.
Meanwhile, P&G's Gillette brand is also transforming itself from a shaving company into an everything male brand. In addition to razor and shaving prep products, Gillette has product lines for hair care (shampoo, conditioners and holding gel), body wash, and deodorant.
(And I won't even bring up the overlap with Head & Shoulders shampoo line for men)
This line extension strategy is never good for a brand; however, it makes even less sense when brands are cannibalizing each other's sales.
However, P&G is not alone with this strategy; their rival's Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive each have multiple brands of men's body wash. Unilever has extended its Axe and Dove brand's and Colgate did so with Softsoap and Irish Spring.
Not only does line-extending brands (like Dove is with Dove Men) eventually weaken your core brand, but employing a such strategy can lead to brands overlapping and companies cannibalizing their own sales like these CPG's are doing.
Where did these companies go wrong? I believe it's the mindset that "men's grooming" is a category. No one brand could ever fulfill all grooming needs so why try to create a single brand for everything.
Rather, body wash, shaving, hair care and cologne are each separate categories that need their own brands.
Gillette had that. They owned more than 70 percent of the wet-shaving market with a focused strategy over the course of many years. Where will it take them.
What will become of the Dove brand as it washes away total femininity? Not to mention fighting it's teammate Axe for body wash sales?
What will become of the billion dollar men's grooming category?
I do know this: with unfocused masses at the top, their will always be great opportunities for a focused brand. How else could a 13 year old specialty retailer with thirty-six stores sell for $60 million.