Hair removal brands take on the recession with ‘homedulgence’

WilkinsonThe growing trend for consumers looking for cheaper ways to maintain the good life they have be-come accustomed to has led to a new term being coined – “homedulgence”.

Two upcoming product launches in the women’s hair removal sector are indicative of the trend. Wilkinson Sword is gearing up to launch a combined women’s razor and trimmer (MW last week). And Reckitt Benckiser-owned Veet, which dominates the depilatory cream and wax market in the UK, is planning a range of electrical hair removing products for a Europe-wide launch in February (MW January 14).

Both brands have pedigrees to call upon that should propel their products. Futurebrand managing director Jasmine Montgomery says: “Wilkinson Sword’s heritage has been in the men’s shaving category, the emphasis has been on performance and precision and quite macho. Veet, on the other hand, is much more of a female brand, its emphasis is on the end result and on beauty rather than on gadgetry or product performance.”

But while both brands are launching products with similar purposes, they are not poised for a head-on collision. The Wilkinson Sword 2-in-1 is distinctly mass market, priced at 8.99, whereas the Veet products are more high-end with the range rising to 79.99 for its premium epilator.

Montgomery believes the recession means that people will be cutting back on services, particularly those that feel like being pampered. She adds that many women feel depilation is not a luxury but a necessity and will therefore be very open to a product that saves them money “while allowing them not to devolve into their cave-woman state”.

A growing sector
According to Mintel, the female razors market is growing 28% year on year and Mintel senior market analyst Harry Foster says that although women have in the past shown some reluctance to trade up within the shaving category, “genuine tailored innovation” has provoked a change in buying.

The Wilkinson Sword and Veet launches demonstrate that innovation in the hair removal sector continues apace but the “home-dulgence” trend is evident across the whole personal care category. The Future Laboratory trends analyst Anne-Fay Townsend says: “There have been a plethora of hi-tech beauty gadgets launched recently, from the No! No! hair removal system to Stop, an anti-aging device from Israel-based company Ultragen.” Townsend says these DIY treatments are aimed at “recessionistas” looking to save money but still look their best. She adds the projected growth for home beauty gadgets is 87% over the next year.

Some observers suggest that the increase in home treatments will encroach on the already vulnerable market for salon and spa treatments. While that may be true for the more expensive Veet products, others claim that mass market products, such as the Wilkinson Sword gadget, are aimed at women who were never in the market for expensive salon treatments but who aspire to the grooming levels of celebrities and models.

Peer reviews
Whatever the motivation behind purchasing a product, manufacturers had better make sure they work. As Townsend points out: “Women are increasingly researching products online and referring to their peers and beauty bloggers for advice. Gadgets which are effective will be championed online, those that aren’t will be dismissed.”

The Wilkinson Sword launch will be trailed online with a “tasteful” video demonstrating its use created by interactive video agency HowTo.tv. A bigger above-the-line campaign will follow.

The move to “homedulgence” is one way consumers can ride out the recession and it is predicted it will soon extend to many other areas of life, such as mix-your-own cocktails evenings and home dining clubs.

Louise Jack

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