Australia in the broad context of US wet shaving markets: Exponential growth, market disconnect, and Social Media cohort non participators.

todras

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The wet-shaving market has evolved considerably in the last 4 years as has my understanding of it both domestically and in the US. It's not often I stop to pause and consider it (as i do) under the kinetic exchange model of markets. I like many of you I suspect am fortunate not to suffer under the school of formal study in economics, I will take my shame in other forms thank you very much. The position I am in has however given me a very good vantage point to observe, puzzle and head shake over the state of the wet-shaving market in Australia and how counter intuitively it has continued to grow and expand in sectors that are naive of social media and especially forums. The existence of 'internet forums' themselves have plummeted from their hay-day of the late 1990's through to around 2003/4 PHPbb years when the activity across an astounding range of interest areas was almost immeasurable, the centrist Facebook monolith (as broadly predicted) came to dominate decimate the once thriving social media landscape for the most part and now the forum as platform for community for the most part is non-existent. Now to contradict of that last sentence through a discrete lens, there are a number of special interest forums, albeit far fewer than in previous years that continue to exist and all things being equal grow. It may come as no surprise that the last two sentences are in effect, self referential.

If we then take the last paragraph with specific reference to markets and who constitutes them (who are the people buying this stuff and why is more and more selling) I can say in very general yet instructive terms, that the growth of wet-shaving in Australia in a statistically significant way is not in any way anchored, married to or connected to either the specialist wet-shaving forums, or the monolithic entity that is Face Book. Now it's a given that a percentage of market share is directly attributable to this specific forum which has been in existence for a number of years, and most certainly to the multitude of FaceBook wet-shaving groups including the maelstrom of content that is TAWSE and the 5000+ member shave the man, the latter case containing an overwhelming membership of state-siders but none the less an Australian group.

So if we take these factors into account (that X percentage is attributable to wet-shaving forums/FB) the problem, indeed the fatal flaw in this attribution is that from the data I have observed and have analysed an ever increasing percentage of artisan wet-shaving customers in Australia as a function of market share, have not either used or even heard of either P&C or any of the multitudinous FB groups. The data gets even more interesting however, as this market share keeps growing beyond the expectation of a kinetic model or even a consumer model, and the growth continues to trend to the aforementioned criteria. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that given my concern this is fantastic news, but that is so far from the point here - my point, or more rather the question I think it would be productive to constructively discuss is what exactly the fruit is going on with wet-shaving in Australia and where the sweet heck are all these people coming from, why are they coming and wouldn't it be nice if we could reach them and say hello, or not.

History is instructive, and undoubtedly in the field of observation chance only favors the prepared mind. Markets are cyclic, and arguably oscillatory but that is a digression that I don't think helpful at this point. Some 4 or 5 years ago now I went 'commercial' with a tiny concern, first through this forum and then through the opportunity and commercial acumen of Con at the Stray Whisker, Con if anyone does not know his full C.V could most suitably be described as Australia's wet-shaving retailer emeritus. From the private and personal mantle of his life, he has done more to promote and encourage the practice of wet-shaving both in Australia and throughout the world (his YouTube videos are recognized as among the best ever produced). He is a regular speaker at the thousands attended US events and has been for a number of years, both in a commercial capacity (a given) but equally as a man who is genuinely passionate about the necessity of promoting Australian wet-shaving products within the global marketplace. If this sounds too complicated and protracted, the TLDR is 'We need to bloody well export more in this country' and you get the picture.

It is no secret that Con made a commercial decision in relation to AP Reserve when he relocated, I would have not a moments hesitation in making the same decision in his circumstances. It is also highly unlikely that we will ever have a commercial relationship again, too many variables as to why and two very different market and brand intents - from my perspective we have both 'seated' in a deterministic sense commercially but this does not imply for a second (despite the FB horseshit knitting circle gossip I keep being told about) that I see him as anything other than an incredibly skilled educator who imparted more about the domestic and international wet-shaving market in the time we had a commercial relationship, than any other person then or since. I suspect would do the same for any other Australian artisan or indeed person that shares his passion and intelligence. The relevance of this is simple, Con on occasions asked me during our discussions about the very same concepts and 'problem' that I raised above, the data in the former case obviously coming from an entirely different commercial source. The question is still unanswered, most people here will probably not read this far down, but for those that have your perspectives, ideas and opines would be thoroughly welcome. Speculation is great, but modelling is better and the problem can be broken down into numbers, data sets and ultimately statistics from which we can derive meaning. I would settle for someone disclosing it's a cult buying it all at this point if it was demonstrable.

So I have detailed the problem, drawing on both the public face and presence of the Stray Whisker and Con and alternative commercial sources and have stated the problem: who are they, where do they come from and why do they keep doing so having no contact with FB wet-shaving forums or P&C.

Let me then speak in a plaintiff voice that this 'problem' or paradigm actually exists without being able to dump a bunch of numbers, the evidence opened it's doors not so long ago now in QLD by way of VSHOD a retailer who stock a select range of imported and very desirable soaps and products. I shop there myself, they saw an opening for top end artisan product and they filled it - gone are the days of 3 weeks and $130 for a tub of MdC or getting bled dry exchanging euros for a nice Italian soap, VSHOD stocks all of it and the capital outlay to do so (exchange rate + airfreight) would be astronomical yet they continue to expand their SKU's with more niche and luxury brands, diversifying readily in response to income streams growing and increasing. The aesthetic of their website is immaterial, my approach here is their entering the market, and doing so to fill a segment with products that are firstly expensive to buy and secondly incredibly expensive to import for reasons already stated. A flash in the pan it could be argued, but the timeline reads full on blazing fire given their timescale of trading, it evidences growth domestically with the least amount of assumptions by case in point: I know all of their product lines, and the most costly and the types and kinds they keep increasing their stocks of I rarely if ever see posted unless I am doing so myself so we return to the juncture and the original class of question, who is buying it and where are they coming from but now we have something tangible that it is growing and their viable and expanding business is evidence of it, even with the arguably 'organic' nature of their website design.

In conclusion then, and to remove a largely immaterial conflict of interest, but to respect a commercial in confidence arrangement AP Reserve is stocked at Beard and Blade, the blindingly obvious consequence of this is that I cannot reference or frame them in the context of this discussion or the nature of the questions and lines of inquiry but anyone else can though, the model if it has any validity needs to fit across the board; open a new tab and check out their recently added items though and expansion into new lines, and US artisans - draw your own conclusions on my Australian stockist and then if you so wish apply it to the model. There is nothing sinister occurring here, it's just an issue of professionalism and commerciality.

So these are my thoughts, framing this issue is something I have been thinking about for a while - can I and should I raise it, and if so how can I do so and effectively communicate the ideas at the core of the problem without the entire question itself being derailed by a lack of understanding as to my intentions - is he promoting AP Reserve, does he want the data, whose data does he have, why did X say Y to Z - all of which while no doubt entertaining if you like essentially old wives gossip, fail in any way to help constructively discuss the (I believe) very interesting question that is being asked as to markets, populations and the inexplicable growth of wet-shaving in Australia that is demonstrated through exponential sales growth of artisan products. I have never studied or had even a remote interest in economics, if you have please jump in with whatever it was that they teach you at a tertiary level and I absolutely promise I will not growl at you for nominal fallacy if you describe a fancy model that does not 'show your working' as to the problem and how you arrived at the solution - feel free to to laugh at my ideas, questions and we that share the bewilderment as to the problem itself.

E.&.OE
 
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Very wordy I agree.😁 But I "think" I understand at least part of what Todras is discussing. The wet shaving market in Australia is a black box right now. He's seeing a number of things that are possibly counterintuitive - such as demand for certain products being met in an unexpected way, or an unexpected price point?

I haven't done an economics course since i left uni in the early 90s 😲

What Todras is talking about (I think - please correct me !) is what could be described as an imperfect or inefficient economy, where full market information is not available to all market participants in a timely or transparent manner..

Todras - over to you - have I understood you correctly? If so, my invoice for analytical services will follow shortly... 😁
 

alfredus

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I think, most who start to wet shave, are just looking for a good shave and how to get rid of cartridges...and they turn to GOOGLE

How far up is P&C in the google rankings would be IMO the starting point for your further investigations...
 

todras

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Very wordy I agree.😁 But I "think" I understand at least part of what Todras is discussing. The wet shaving market in Australia is a black box right now. He's seeing a number of things that are possibly counterintuitive - such as demand for certain products being met in an unexpected way, or an unexpected price point?

I haven't done an economics course since i left uni in the early 90s 😲

What Todras is talking about (I think - please correct me !) is what could be described as an imperfect or inefficient economy, where full market information is not available to all market participants in a timely or transparent manner..

Todras - over to you - have I understood you correctly? If so, my invoice for analytical services will follow shortly... 😁
A demand for Artisan products that is growing month by month exponentially (relative to Australian scale), new vendors appearing and not just surviving but expanding due to increased capital inflow.

The TLDR is that wet shaving retailers are booming, but the people buying them and coming back to buy more are not wet-shaving forum/FB social media users - I want to know how and why this is occurring, the catridge/goo argument while true is echo chamber.

What Todras is talking about (I think - please correct me !) is what could be described as an imperfect or inefficient economy, where full market information is not available to all market participants in a timely or transparent manner.
Exactly this, and I am interested not from a financial standpoint as my exports to the US are staggering relative to AUS but as I alluded to in the post, it's been a trend for a while now that shows no sign of slowing, I'm inquisitive by nature so I and the others I mentioned would like to know why - for them as retailers and for me being bloody nosey.

How far up is P&C in the google rankings would be IMO the starting point for your further investigations...
Well, as you may know retailers who pay loads have access to incredibly detailed referrer data as do I on my website to a far less illustrative extent, the customers making the purchasers as the sum of the growth have not visited P&C or have not clicked on FB advertisements prior to going to the various retailers - Yes I know Google is insidious, but it needs to be remembered that you are the product on both google and Facebook. So everyone knows, I do not use adwords or any paid advertising or analytics whatsoever on my website, all I see is basic information about where visitors to my site come from.

At the end of the day its more Aussies getting good old fashioned shaves of a high quality, which is fantastic. Beyond that some more data on why, how and where would I think be really interesting to see.
 

tim33z

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The TLDR is that wet shaving retailers are booming, but the people buying them and coming back to buy more are not wet-shaving forum/FB social media users - I want to know how and why this is occurring, the catridge/goo argument while true is echo chamber.
Could explain Woolworths stocking that new cream brush and DE in their stores lately. They’d be in the know as to what segments to expect growth.
 

RustyBlade

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Could explain Woolworths stocking that new cream brush and DE in their stores lately. They’d be in the know as to what segments to expect growth.
Agree with that, they have seen this sector grow. If we see another DE blade brand on the shelf then the kindling has kicked in and we should see another positive log curve.
 
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So, if it were such a big market, why arent we seeing the Procter& Gambles and Unilevers swooping in? If we're talking about a fraction of the market - lets say 5 per cent - we're talking about 300-400k consumers... I think thats a $40_$$50M Market per year.. thats based on $30 per head razor blades , and $70 per annum soaps/balms/potions and lotions... 😁

When you start talking those numbers, it is counterintuitive. No one leaves $40m on the table. Or do they ?
 

todras

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Could explain Woolworths stocking that new cream brush and DE in their stores lately. They’d be in the know as to what segments to expect growth.
Agree with that, they have seen this sector grow. If we see another DE blade brand on the shelf then the kindling has kicked in and we should see another positive log curve.

Both very salient points, sure it is only a couple of line items and no doubt cart'n'goo is tenfold but procurement moves when there is an emergent trend, and if anyone has the dollars and existing capability to map those trends then Woolworths do, their poker machine revenues alone can buy tenfold analytics and big data, they may even have their hand in a chain franchise 'shaver store' or two, I'm not certain but I might even have a dig at work to see what comes up.

There was a time not so long ago that the idea of a DE being offered for sale in either of the two major chains would be astounding - it was all about 10 bladed vibrating heated cartridges as the consumables market on them is so profitable. It will be interesting to see what further movements occur (if any) but I would hazard a guess and say something - worth keeping an eye on Coles etc, I'd love to see some numbers on the sales too and the movement per region and so forth.

I didn't reference mensbiz in my original post either, primarily as they have a niche and high end fragrance focus (while still stocking an excellent range of wet-shaving products) but no doubt with their footprint they would be seeing the upturn especially if the population in question is flush with discretionary income - that's a guess btw, I really do not know who the folks in this market share are.

So, if it were such a big market, why arent we seeing the Procter& Gambles and Unilevers swooping in? If we're talking about a fraction of the market - lets say 5 per cent - we're talking about 300-400k consumers... I think thats a $40_$$50M Market per year.. thats based on $30 per head razor blades , and $70 per annum soaps/balms/potions and lotions... 😁
Well their current nett worth is US $230 Billion, that kind of fuck you money is simply wait and acquire money if it tips 100 or 200 million USD they just take it carte blanche, anything less and it's not viable especially in a market as tiny as Australia where I believe it's only even noticble (the trend) due to our small size and personally my experience with sales numbers here going properly north over the last year or 2.
 
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my point, or more rather the question I think it would be productive to constructively discuss is what exactly the fruit is going on with wet-shaving in Australia and where the sweet heck are all these people coming from, why are they coming and wouldn't it be nice if we could reach them and say hello, or not.

So I have detailed the problem, drawing on both the public face and presence of the Stray Whisker and Con and alternative commercial sources and have stated the problem: who are they, where do they come from and why do they keep doing so having no contact with FB wet-shaving forums or P&C.
I have no industry insights or analytics, but perhaps my personal wet shaving journey might be illustrative. The two former colleagues who got me into this back in 2012 weren’t, to my knowledge, active in any online communities. I then managed to wet shave upto 2018 without finding this place, but did lurk a little at Badger and Blade.

A different work colleague (the other two have left Darwin) then got me on to this place in 2018, and after lurking for a few months I took the plunge and signed up. Funnily enough that gentleman is a long time lurker here with an impressive wet shaving collection - but has no interest in actively participating online. A couple of other colleagues (@Holiday @revhed )who are also experienced wet shavers managed to stay away from the forums until recently - lurkers but not active I believe? I’ve recently learned that yet another colleague is also an avid wet shaver,

My takeaway is that a lot of people probably ARE aware of communities like this and use them as a reference source, but don’t have the time and/or interest to sign up and participate - especially if they already have a circle of wet shaving comrades in the real world.
 

tim33z

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Pure speculation- is the rise in interest in wet shaving a counter reaction to the hipster beard/3 day growth that seems to be the norm for so many men these days?
This hipster rubbish was in my forethought also but not necessarily as a reason some men are taking to traditional shaving. I’m aware that there are loads more products for general beard care and of course facial care too. Anyone been into Priceline lately would see new ranges of these items and some are making their way into the supermarket shelves also.

Then there is the new wave of pomades available with scents that are rather nice sounding.

Off topic but I like my lynx hair “pomade” due to its feeling when applying. Don’t need a pomade that can only be used with the right shave soap and aftershave now do we???
 
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While I also have no economics background I can describe my own journey and how it possibly might relate.

I got myself into wetshaving about a year ago. Since then I have spoken to several people about it as a hobby and recommended it to them. Even having one person at least become a wetshaver because of it.

By contrast my social media accounts (which are hardly booming) don't laud my activity to anywhere near the same extent, nor do they have the level of engagement required to extol the virtues of the activity.

My point is that quite possibly your new recruits are being shepherded aboard by good old fashioned word of mouth. The attraction of such advertising being three fold.

Firstly wetshaving is a traditional activity, such that most people's perspective as casual participants may not be immediately conducive to social media involvement.

Secondly shaving and indeed men's grooming has been a largely minor unsung part of our daily routine for time immemorial. We might complement a women on her appearance, hair and makeup but the same was not done for males haircuts and shaves.

Historically there has been stigm associated with homosexual persecution who counter the societal expectation that men's daily routines were unimportant or farcical. The "metrosexual" historically being a derrogatory term for someone who dressed well and expressed interest in their appearance. This stigma lent to an environment that did not embrace the concept of most men speaking about their routines . Reluctance for many people to post on social media advertising their "beauty" products, or seeking out other men's social media posts regarding the same may be a hold over from the previous generation.

Thirdly the first steps into wetshaving can be a daunting experience. With limited entry pathway material assistance from an experienced user goes a long way to welcoming most beginners. Those that begin and need new gear are referred to brands and suppliers by that experienced mentor who can provided trusted advice.

For these reasons a face to face personal recommendation would most likely source of new converts which would bypass the forum and social media accounts that see most users being already experienced in the hobby.

TL;DR People are coming aboard by word of mouth because taking photos of your shaving is unusual, talking about shaving isn't cool and wetshaving is scary.
 

UKSteve

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There’s an appetite globally for craft this and artisan that, food, drink, clothing, grooming etc etc. An attitude shift that’s seen in many markets.
I don’t feel the need to join forums or other social media platforms in relation to other areas of my life, maybe (certainly) there’s a lot of people who aren’t interested in discussing blade angle and brush hair origins and just simply want to ‘traditional wet shave with artisan products’
 

Nico

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Interesting comments on this thread. As for me, I have come full circle back to traditional wet shaving. I must admit feeling overwhelmed with all the product choices available these days. Joining online forums was the easy way to source information. On my personal journey back to wet shaving and other hobbies I prefer to support artisans along the way.
 
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99% of people I know who have taken it up in the last two years state sustainability as the key area. No one has mentioned that at all. Especially the women's zero waste community and companies starting to listen to them and produce priducts aimed at women. Just like some are unaware of how large tge de shaving world is the zero waste world /reduction of waste world is now considerable and growing rapidly.
 
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