The Art of Shaving: A Close Shave for a Good Cause

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The Art of Shaving (yup, that’s the brand’s name) is a 14-year-old luxury brand sold in its own US stores (over 40 “Shaving Shops,” some of which have “Barber Spas”) and in such tony retailers as Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus.

Its approach to shaving as an art is decidedly low-tech but it features a high-end product line (shaving brushes sell from $55 to $1,200 each). The company pitches shaving as a four-step process — prepare, lather, shave, moisturize — and sells products for each stage.

Its old school tradition based on “the brotherhood” of shaving (although it does cater to women, too) is a message it’s now rolling out across traditional and social media. The brand is embarking on its first-ever advertising campaign, and promoting a pro-social push on social media with a heavy-hitting celeb endorsement (the New York Yankees’ Nick Swisher) in support of the Movember movement.[more]

To kick off this year’s “grow a mustache for a good cause” Movember, the brand leveraged its Facebook presence to launch a Foursquare 5 O’clock Shadow Special to entice men to check in for a close shave and special offer before forgoing shaving for the month.

As for stepping up its marketing, the timing seems right. According to market research firm Euromonitor, the men’s shaving and skin care products market has grown from $2.4 billion in 1997 to $4.8 billion in 2009 — exactly double in twelve years. Prestige skin care products, like The Art of Shaving, is a sub-category that, in its own right is growing. Another research firm, NPD Group, says this sub-category has seen a five percent increase from 2009 to 2010.

P&G acquired The Art of Shaving in 2009 and, apparently, the brand marketing superpower is ready to put the word out about it through an upscale campaign themed “The Brotherhood of Shaving.”

Black-and-white product shots are accompanied by copy that reinforces the theme with headlines in quotes, such as “I will teach those less smooth than myself the path to smoothness.”

P&G spokesman Damon Jones tells the New York Times that the ads are intended to “create a comfortable space for men to talk to each other and to trusted experts” about shaving.

While the campaign is new for The Art of Shaving, it isn’t the first time P&G is addressing the men’s market. P&G also acquired Gillette in 2005 and, in so doing, transformed itself from a company that marketed almost entirely to women to one that needed to go after men as well. Gillette’s shaving products don’t directly compete with The Art of Shaving’s upscale line, however.

The Art of Shaving was featured in the book Accidental Branding by David Vinjamuri, who wrote, “The genius insight behind The Art of Shaving as a brand was to infuse the grooming practices of the metrosexual movement with a deeply masculine flavor taken from traditional English barbering shops.”

Vinjamuri says The Art of Shaving isn’t a mainstream brand; rather, it appeals to men  “in the know.” Vinjamuri tells the Times that “the brotherhood of shaving” theme fits nicely with this “insider brand” personality because, he says, “the only way to be introduced into a brotherhood is by a brother.”

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