Should the razor be worried?
2013 was the year of the beard on the Boston sports scene, and the phenomenon was on full display as the Red Sox beat the Cardinals in the World Series.
A firm that tracks consumer markets says razor sales are in decline because of facial hair’s rising popularity, but it probably doesn’t help to have beloved athletes embrace beards and then get their fans in on the act.
Now that the World Series is over, Gillette convinced David Ortiz and Shane Victorino to shave.
800razors.comheld a competition to find this season’s scruffiest, craziest looks.
Here’s a look at the changes in the razor industry and how companies are responding to athletes’ fondness for the scruffy look.
Ortiz and Victorino were joined by Boston police Officer Steve Horgan from Fenway Park’s bullpen in shaving off their beards on Nov. 4 at Gillette’s headquarters in South Boston.
The company also made a $100,000 to The One Fund during the ceremonial shave.
“While we aren’t usually big fans of unkempt facial hair, we got behind the local team. Now that they proved themselves to be baseball’s elite, we think the Fenway faithful should get to see the men under the beards looking their best. We’re extremely excited to help them put their best faces forward as champions,’’ Sonia Fife, Gillette general manager for North America, said in a statement.
800razors.com set forth a challenge to the Red Sox players with beards: don’t shave it all, but for a good cause.
800razors.com wanted the players to shave their beards down to just mustaches for Movember, a month-long movement that raises awareness for prostate and testicular cancer and other health issues affecting men.
Pictured: Red Sox catcher David Ross tugged left-fielder Johny Gomes’s beard after he hit a home run in Game 4 of the Series.
So what did all this beard growing done to the razor industry?
“It is the popularity of beards in general that is hurting razor sales, and the popularity of playoff beards is merely an extension of that,’’ said Tim Barrett, an analyst for Euromonitor International, which tracks consumer markets.
“Favorite sports teams simply provide a great excuse for those that would have begun to cultivate their facial hair sooner or later,’’ he said.
Pictured: Peter Rice of Falls Church, Va., a Red Sox fan, was photographed outside of Fenway Park. Rice started growing his beard partly in support of the Red Sox.
The razor market is dominated by Boston-based Gillette, according to Euromonitor. In August, its parent company, Procter & Gamble, said its razor sales were falling in developed markets. Energizer’s Schick razors weren’t doing much better at the time. Bloomberg reported the company experienced a 10 percent drop in unit sales in the past year.
“The vogue for stubble, the relative non-hairiness of Chinese men, growing acceptance of the unshaven look in the workplace and, most importantly, the ever increasing cost of shaving have all been damaging to men’s shaving and Gillette alike,’’ Nicole Tyrimou, a beauty and personal care analyst at Euromonitor, wrote in a July story posted to the agency’s website.
Shaving costs can add up.
A man who changes the cartridge on his razor once per month pays about $4.50 to replace Gillette’s five-blade Fusion Power razor, according to the company’s website.
Personal finance website GoBankingRates.com calculated that men who skip shaving for one year can save anywhere from $100 to $200—about the price of a playoff ticket.
Pictured: Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia tugs on Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli’s beard after a game.
Men who do want to shave, but don’t want to pay name brand prices, are also eroding the dominance of well-known razor makers. Subscription sites like 800razors.com and Dollar Shave Club mail customers a specified number of replacement cartridges every month for a discounted price and offer free shipping.
800razors.com sells cartridges for $2.50 each. The Dollar Shave Club, another online razor dealer, sells a six-blade cartridge for $2.25 each.
These private label dealers are seeing their business grow. Euromonitor found they accounted for a 3.6 percent share of the razor market in the US last year, a 24 percent jump from where they stood in 2008.
Razor companies are also adjusting to the rising popularity of facial hair.
Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide Precision Styler, which retails for $20 to $27, is a combination razor and trimmer to help men manage and define their facial hair.
“For someone like Big Papi, who has a really intricate cut, you still need a tool to achieve that,’’ said Gillette spokesman Kurt Iverson.
Other companies are following suit by debuting beard dyes, conditioning lotions, and styling gels, Euromonitor’s Tyrimou wrote in July.
Gillette also embraced the “no shave November’’ movement popularized by Movember, a charity group that raises money and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer. The group asks men to grow moustaches in exchange for donations to Movember from friends and family.
Model Kate Upton, New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthew, New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, and New England Revolution defender Kevin Aliston signed on to support Gillette’s efforts, the company said.
Amendola and Aliston also participated in a ceremonial shave down event at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 29 to prepare for the month.
Some beards, however, just can’t be tamed.
Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Brian Wilson is famous for his shaggy, black beard. It’s been a trademark of his ever since his days as a closer for the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants in 2010. In an effort to gain some publicity, 800razors.com offered Wilson $1 million to shave it off in August.
“If [our razors] can tackle shaving a beard like his, it can work wonders on the average man,’’ co-founder and president Phillip Masiello said in a press release.
Wilson, however, refused the deal.