Have we reached ‘peak beard’ yet? Not a bit of it

Tattoo artist Jack Goks (https://www.cloakanddaggerlondon.co.uk/tattoo-artists/jack-goks/), Brad Pitt for Chanel, David Beckham, Santa Claus, Notonthehighstreet beard grooming kit

Tattoo artist Jack Goks, Brad Pitt for Chanel, David Beckham, Notonthehighstreet beard grooming kit, Santa Claus

When you have a lot of hair on your face you’re less likely to invest in skincare. That’s an unfortunate side effect of the on-going beard trend and it means growth in the UK male skincare market is grinding to a halt.

Now quite a lot of men have beards these days and it sometimes feels like a beard is the default choice for 20-somethings. If you wondered why, some Australian research last year said it’s because our society is busy and crowded and men feel they have to compete by looking more aggressively ‘male’.

I’m not so sure about that and think it could just be part of the fashion cycle. But whatever the reason, a Braun survey recently showed 53% of men saying they felt more attractive to women with a beard. Apparently, some men are even having beard hair transplants so they don’t get left out.

But whatever their reasons for growing a beard, they’re hurting the male skincare market.

Researcher Mintel said last week that the UK market grew only 1.3% last year to reach a value of £104m. Now while that might seem like reasonably good news in tough times, coming after 8% growth in 2014 and 13% in 2013, it’s pretty poor.

Growth was clearly already slowing in 2014 but having virtually fallen off a cliff in 2015 and with the beard trend showing no signs of fading, it’s not what skincare makers want to hear. That’s especially so given that Mintel says markdowns are also causing problems with the proliferation of price promotions helping to stunt market growth too.

Of course, if skincare companies are on top of things, they’ll be piling into categories that look like they’ve got some potential. What does that include? Well Mintel says 35% of men use lip balm and 33% use facial cleanser so there’s room for development there.

Most interesting though is the beard care category. Apparently, 18% of men use a beard wash or oil and given that most men still don’t have beards, it means the percentage of bearded men using such products is actually higher.

And in the 16-to-24-year-old age group, the usage figure is 28% or, again, higher if you only take bearded men into account. As the 16-24 age group includes a lot of teens who probably couldn’t grow a beard even if they wanted to, that 28% figure likely shoots up when those teens are excluded.

The use of beard care products isn’t evenly spread across the country though. In fact, 34% of Londoners use them but as you go further north, usage drops off quite sharply. So there are still a lot of potential targets for any companies in the male grooming sector looking for a market to exploit.

But of course, the big question is how long have they got before this particular trend fizzles out? Maybe longer than we think. Despite endless talk of fast trend cycles, major underlying trends like this can be surprisingly tenacious. Analysts may have been predicting that we’d reached ‘peak beard’ back in 2014 and again last year, but I think this one still has some time to run…

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