BEAUTY CARE

Focus On: Wahl

BY Seth Mendelson

At Wahl Home Products it is all about connecting the dots.

The Sterling, Ill.-based company has developed a strong niche in the grooming industry by making sure it covers all of the bases. That starts by offering quality merchandise, followed by a strong marketing message that resonates with both consumers and its retail partners. And, of course, it is backed up by a seasoned staff of professionals, all seeking to make sure that Wahl remains at the cutting edge in its categories. 

The results have been great for the company. Wahl currently owns a 78% share of the hair clipper market and a 44% share of the beard trimmer segment. On top of that, the company is viewed as a major player in the pet grooming market, as well as with massagers. Most importantly, the North American consumer division has posted an average sales gain of 15% over the last dozen years.

“First and foremost, we are about quality,” said Bruce Kramer, senior vice president of Wahl’s North American consumer division. “We have a sales and marketing team here that is dedicated to making sure our retailers and consumers are happy with the products we offer. We spend millions of dollars every year on research and data to make sure we are offering consumers the products they want. We do not cut corners on anything, and with our research and development center [we have] have more than 200 patents. The bottom line is that we make a better mousetrap in the categories we compete in.”

All of that hard work and planning has resulted in a company with more than 350 SKUs across all of its lines, and a reputation with the trade and consumers that is second to none. Wahl, which was founded in 1919, operates eight global manufacturing facilities and 11 sales offices. It employs 3,200 workers worldwide, with 1,100 in Sterling. 

“To maintain our leadership position in the personal care categories we serve, we must have vision,” said Greg Wahl, the company’s CEO. “Vision to continually improve our existing products. Vision to bring new products to market which meet the needs of consumers. Vision to stay innovative and ahead of our competitors, and vision to support our customers, the retailers, with programs that make it easy, fun and profitable for them to sell more Wahl products.”

Kramer emphasized the importance of the Wahl sales team, noting that educating the team is vital to the success of Wahl products and the overall categories the company competes in. But he also stressed that the company’s success is based on its relationship with retailers. “We coach and emphasize to our salespeople the importance of doing what is right for our retail partners,” he said. “We are the category leader and with that falls the responsibility of doing what is right to grow the entire category, not just our sales. We want to help each and every retailer grow their sales and profits in these segments.”

Part of that education is showing retailers how to upsell consumers to more expensive — and profitable — grooming products. Steve Yde, Wahl’s divisional vice president of marketing, said the company has used its experience and extensive product line to help retailers get consumers to spend more money on grooming items. “We have developed a very effective way of helping retailers get consumers to spend more money on grooming products,” he said. “Over the last 10 years, the average retail for these products has increased by about $5.”

Things were not always working so smoothly for the grooming category. Kramer remembers when suppliers flooded the domestic market with cheap imported products more than a decade ago. The lack of quality hurt the entire industry and consumers, he said, were turned off by the cheaper products. 

“About 12 years ago, we put a team together and researched what was going on with the category,” he said. “The research showed that consumers wanted good products, and they wanted premium products that performed well. So we focused on the better and best parts of the categories. It helped retailers to get consumers to trade up, and consumers were happy [with] the better products. Everyone is happy.”

Advertising, packaging and in-store promotions also are helping to build the Wahl image and its sales. The company has long played off its success in the professional market with the consumer market, taking many steps to remind shoppers that the products used at barber shops and salons are often made by Wahl. Its current advertising program is focused on the “real guys, real grooming” concept with the tagline, “I trust my (fire) crew, my gear, and I trust my Wahl Clipper.”

Also, Kramer noted that the in-store display that encourages consumers to touch and learn about the products has helped create a 25%-to-60% spike in sales. “By allowing them to touch and feel the product, they see the quality of a Wahl product,” he said. “It helps to educate the consumer and show them the key attributes of each product. In the end, it helps them to make the right purchasing decision.”

So what does the future look like? Wahl executives are excited, noting that they are launching seven items over the next year and getting more involved in the men’s wet grooming segment, with shaving items, soaps and toiletries. “It is an exciting category and one where we think the Wahl name will go far,” Kramer said. “We intend to bring high-quality, premium products into this market, and we think male consumers will like them.”

Yde said that Wahl also is cognizant of the changing retail landscape and intends to help retailers sell products through traditional brick-and-mortar stores and online. “We want them to know that we are ready to work with them as they make the transition to digital,” he said. “There are new ways to communicate and sell [to] consumers, and we are onboard. We are very excited about the future.”

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Unilever announces plans to acquire Schmidt’s Naturals

BY Gisselle Gaitan

Unilever has announced an agreement to acquire Schmidt’s Naturals. The Portland, Ore.-based personal care line, founded in 2010 by Jamie Schmidt, began as a deodorant line, which has expanded its offerings to include bar soap and toothpaste.

“Schmidt’s Naturals is a strong, innovative brand in the fast-growing natural category, and nicely complements our existing portfolio of U.S. deodorants, which includes leading brands Degree, Axe and Dove,” Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America, said. “The brand’s focus on transparency and mission to make natural products accessible to everyone aligns closely with Unilever values, and represents an exciting category expansion for our family of brands.”

The company’s deodorants have won awards for its formulas, which are derived from plants and minerals. Its most popular scents include Charcoal + Magnesium, Rose + Vanilla and Lavender + Sage. Co-founders Jamie Schmidt and Michael Cammarata will continue to be involved with the brand.

“Today is a momentous day in the history of Schmidt’s Naturals as we announce our joining of the Unilever family of brands,” Schmidt, said. “Thanks to our community, what started humbly in my kitchen and local farmers’ markets has grown into homes worldwide. I am proud to say that as a result of our partnership with Unilever, we are better positioned than ever in our mission to make natural products accessible to all. Moreover, Unilever’s substantive actions towards creating a more sustainable and equitable future for diverse peoples across the planet further fuels the enthusiasm behind our alliance.”

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Estée Lauder, YouCam Makeup expand partnership with AR training program

BY Gisselle Gaitan

Estée Lauder has announced that it will be expanding its relationship with Perfect Corp.,-owned YouCam Makeup. Previously the two companies collaborated by allowing consumers to virtually try on shades of lipstick in real-time through an app. Now the New York City-based company and the augmented reality channel will launch the Estée Lauder Augmented Reality Training, or ART, bringing to life a live AR makeup education program for the beauty brand’s 17,000 beauty advisors around the world.

“We are so excited to work with Estée Lauder to connect Beauty Advisors globally for live beauty training anywhere, anytime,” Perfect Corp., CEO, Alice Chang said. “Leveraging YouCam’s AR technology for beauty demonstrations allows for engaging, interactive and effective training in real time and at scale.”

The private channel aims to connect the Estée Lauder Brand connects with its beauty advisors and sales team by providing a training tool that utilizes AR technology to educate, entertain and inform. Allowing its advisors to interact virtually throughout the session, follow along on slide presentations and chime-in with real-time questions and feedback will help maintain the nature of training, the company said. Attendance, engagement and overall performance of trainers and participants also can be tracked, the company added.

“We are thrilled to continue our pioneering partnership with YouCam to bring mobile-based Augmented Reality training to our Beauty Advisors around the world,” Stephane de La Faverie, global brand president at Estée Lauder said. “We believe this is a turning point in beauty education and leveraging technology.”

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