Facial hair trend hurts Procter & Gamble

American men are experiencing a facial hair free-for-all, embracing the unshaven glory of hipsters and Hollywood, and it's cutting into Procter & Gamble Co.'s bottom line.

The owner of razor giant Gillette said it is "seeing a slight decline in wet shaving incidence in the U.S. right now driven by fashion," even as global sales in its grooming sector rose 3% during the quarter that ended Dec. 31, the company said Friday.

Movember, the annual charity event in which participants raise awareness of prostate cancer by growing mustaches, exacerbated the national sales slide, according to P&G Chief Financial Officer Jon R. Moeller.

Each of the five contenders for the best actor Academy Award has rocked the hirsute look in his nominated film role or on recent red carpets. Sightings of scruffy-cheeked men in Silver Lake are as common as Starbucks cafes in a city center — it seems there's at least one on every corner.

Men's razors and blades formed an estimated $2.2-billion industry in the U.S. last year, according to research from data firm Euromonitor International. Revenue grew 2.2% from 2012, slower than the 4% expansion from 2010 to 2011.

A separate report from investment bank Jefferies found that sales of nondisposable razors tanked 15% in the most recent quarter.

There's also competition from a raft of razor upstarts. Dollar Shave Club in Venice offers razors through an inexpensive subscription service and has marketed the program with goofy, viral YouTube videos. This week, online men's grooming retailer Harry's plunked down $100 million to buy a nearly 100-year-old German razor factory.

Luckily for P&G, there's more that can be shaved than mustaches and leonine beards.

The company said there is "increased shaving below the neck, particularly among younger men" ages 18 to 24. P&G sees an opening into what it calls "guys' holistic shaving needs," also known as manscaping.

To that end, P&G began marketing its new Gillette Body razor this year, dubbing it the first tool of its kind "built for the terrain of a man's body." Overall, the company posted quarterly net income of $3.43 billion, down 15.5% from a year earlier, on sales of $22.28 billion, up 0.5%.


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