Beards’ popularity cuts into razor sales

By Lauren Coleman-Lochner / Bloomberg News

Published Jan 26, 2014 at 12:01AM

NEW YORK — Procter & Gamble says a growing preference for shaggy styles is trimming razor sales.

Beards are showing up all over, from the facial hair favored by Brooklyn hipsters to the solidarity beards sported by the Boston Red Sox baseball team, which in 2013 went from last place in their division to World Series champions. P&G even called out Movember, when participants grow mustaches to raise money for prostate cancer research. The event cut into grooming sales last quarter, Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said Friday on an earnings call.

Last month, a group called the Gotham City Beard Alliance, which bills itself as promoting “tolerance and acceptance of all facial hair,” held a beard and mustache competition in downtown Manhattan, with contests for “freestyle,” sideburns and starter mustaches. Even the heavily bearded cast of “Duck Dynasty” are fashionable these days.

Guys are harking back to a more “rugged, masculine” look, said David Wu, an analyst at Telsey Advisory Group in New York. Facial hair is becoming more accepted in the workplace, he said, in industries ranging from fashion to finance. While Wu is clean-shaven, he says most of his male friends sport facial hair.

Alex Mecum, a real-estate salesman in downtown Manhattan, wears “permastubble” that he maintains with a trimmer. Most of the fashion-conscious men he knows have some growth.

“I would definitely say it’s the look,” said Mecum, 37, adding that it’s not just the callow. “I’ve noticed older men too now.”

Mecum won a mustache contest in a Washington, D.C., bar after growing a “righteous horseshoe” for what he calls his “Octobeard” observance, though in cutting-edge Brooklyn, with keener competition, “I would have been trounced,” he said.

His prizes included a mustache-shaped pillow and a painting of Ron Swanson, the mustachioed character on the television sitcom “Parks and Recreation” played by Nick Offerman.

P&G and competitor Schick, which is owned by Energizer Holdings, also have to contend with upstart razor sellers such as Dollar Shave Club, which sells blade subscriptions for as little as $1 a month. Moeller said Friday the challengers are small and aren’t having a major impact on P&G’s sales.

More men are shaving their chests and backs these days, which could give blades a new lift. Coming soon from the world’s largest consumer-products company: a body razor.

The company has enlisted model Kate Upton and actresses Hannah Simone and Genesis Rodriguez to plug its 3-in-1 ProGlide Styler and issued a “Body Shaving 101” information sheet, which notes that “men often lack guidance when it comes to shaving below the neck.”

Mecum said “people care more about growing out the upstairs and trimming back the downstairs.” Yet he doesn’t plan to buy the product. His trimmer works just fine, he said.