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What Your Beard Says About the Economy

Prepare to bathe in guilt, bearded men: your hirsute face could be the reason we're all broke. Either that, or it's the result of said brokeness. Let us explain.

beard 

(Photo Credit: D Services/Flickr)

A recent post on Jezebel drew our attention to the crisis facing razor companies like Gillette. And while of course it's impossible to say that the decline of one industry is responsible for our individual financial fortunes, it's interesting to look at the relationship between shaving and the economy.

"Men's shaving has been going through a rough time," writes Nicole Tyrimou at Euromontior. "Despite healthy growth of 6 percent in 2012, the men's toiletries category has been catching up, and in 2013 the two categories will be equal in size, with men's shaving expected to lose its dominance in men's grooming for the first time ever. Razors and blades account for over 70 percent of men's shaving sales, so largely determine the category's vitality."

What's to blame for this decline in razor sales? In short, the fact that it's cool to have a beard now, even at work, in many offices across the world. Also, and perhaps most importantly, the unemployed are less likely to shave every day.

Manufacturers are partly responsible. Razors have increased in cost by as much as 99 percent over the past three years. And then there's the fact that Gilette, whose parent company Proctor & Gamble pretty much dominates the razor market, has only cranked out three new products since 2005, giving innovation-hungry consumers fewer things to spend their money on, were they inclined or able to do so.

Tyrimou ties the lower rate of product launches to P&G's financial troubles, but you also have to wonder if they're just running out of ideas. After all, how many blades and moisturizing strips can you add to a single razor? She sees a possibility for companies to branch out into beard-related products, like colorants and conditioners, which could help shore up the market, if the fashion pendulum doesn't swing back to the clean-shaven look first.

In the meantime, stroke your beard thoughtfully and ponder its relationship to your own bottom line.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think beards are an economic bellwether? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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7 Comments

  1. 7 Egbert O'Foo 09 Sep
    Another consideration: shaving only the sides around the goatee, I can make these newfangled quintuple-blades last a year each.

    I'm not buying too many of 'em ;)

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  2. 6 P Helps 20 Aug

    If you research the mark-up on razors, you will find that Gillette and others in the razor industry have enjoyed a whopping 60+% profit margin over the last few decades.  Much like the oil companies, Gillette and other companies in the razor industry have little remorse about over-charging consumers and yet are quick to cry over waning sales.  Furthermore, it is typical for monopolized industries to have little or no motivation to change the focus of business strategies because success is profit-based, not consumer-based.  Money matters - people do not. 

    Consumers are seriously struggling to manage shrinking household budgets, lower salaries, increased working hours, greater responsibilities, and most of all affording increasingly inflated costs of essential grooming products.  It should be no surprise that razors are one of the first items to be cut from the shopping list. 

    I agree with others - go back to the old-fashioned ways of shaving.  It is not as convenient but it can quite possibly save hundreds of dollars a year.  A majority of adults realize there is nothing worse than shaving with a dull razor, so consumers can research and try ways lengthen the life span of razor blades and keeping a razor sharp for a longer period of time. 

  3. 5 cleanshaven 17 Aug

    With the absurd price of mach7 or whatever the latest innovation is, it is no surprise that the majority of men I know have switched to old-school safety razors. Who needs innovation and fancy packaging? I just need a sharp edge

  4. 4 Jeff 15 Aug

    Electric razors - with the prices of blades etc it pays for itself in 3 months

  5. 3 Mazher Rizvi 15 Aug

    I returned to Pakistan after almost 15 years in the Middle East. I was surprised to see that in Pakistan's largest Metropolitan city Karachi, hundreds a thousands of young men between the ages of 25-35 were wearing beards. This is just a guess but 25% of them were attributed to fashion and the rest to religion. French beards, close shaved beards, large flowing beards, moustache less beards were common forms. barber shops are ofcourse thriving. Scissors and disposable blades are in vogue. Yes it is true that Gillette needs to come up with something to maintain these beards at low cost. The market is open in Pakistan, afghanistan, middle east and ofcourse amongst the Talibans,

  6. 2 capnunderpants 15 Aug
    One word: Dollar Shave Club. Oh, wait...that's three words. Three words every shavin man should know, and P&G should fear. 
  7. 1 Rusty 15 Aug
    I think that the article brings up a great point. The companies that sell razors and such should also look into more beard products too. I would love something to not just darken my beard to the original color, but maybe change the tint or hue. I have used regular hair dye to make my beard red before. It works, but could be made easier to apply. Also, other trimmers to better shape and define the beard would be wonderful too. Detroit failed for years to listen to the customer and lost a lot of marketshare to foreign companies that did listen. Will the men's personal care companies do the same?

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