In the world of male grooming, beards are still very much a thing — but don't tell that to the companies thriving in online razor sales.
On the internet, electronic tributes to beards are a testament to how the trend for hirsute men remains strong, shown by the proliferating number of grooming companies that cater to them.
Conversely, razors are also holding up, with men appearing to flock to lower-cost upstarts that are posing a stiff challenge to big brands like Gillette and Schick. Market research company Euromonitor International considers online sales of men's shaving products the hottest story in men's grooming. Last year, the U.S. saw a whopping $342 million in internet sales of male shaving products, the firm recently reported.
Among the smaller razor brands that have cropped up recently, Bevel is considered among the fastest growing: it saw explosive sales growth of about 103 percent over the last year, data from research firm Slice Intelligence show.
And whether men are choosing to go hairy or clean shaven, the chief executive of Bevel's parent company isn't sweating the pressure — in part because of the population his product targets.
By definition we are not in a saturated space.Tristan Walkerfounder and CEO of Walker & Co. Brands
"One thing folks don't ask is why a lot of men are choosing to wear beards. It's very important to think about the demographic that we are serving," Tristan Walker, founder and CEO of Walker & Co. Brands, told CNBC in a recent interview.
Walker said that many men who sport beards have suffered from shaving irritation and grooming troubles that are exacerbated by traditional shaving products. Then along came Bevel — a razor designed to reduce bumps and irritation.
He founded his company about three years ago in a effort to challenge the "ethnic aisle," otherwise known as the area at retailers where products geared toward ethnic minorities are marketed. When he created Bevel, Walker set out with an ambitious goal in mind: to "make health and beauty simple for people of color," he said, calling them underserved.
Those same consumers are a dominant force in retail, with black spending power alone accounting for at least $1 trillion, according to data from the University of Georgia. Additionally, upwardly mobile African-Americans who earn at least $75,000 annually spend significant amounts on cosmetics and retail products, Nielsen said in a 2015 survey on black spending.
In three years, Walker's company has raised a little more than $33 million from investors, a process that he described as "incredibly difficult, because the investors you're trying to pitch don't understand that the problem that you're trying to fix is a problem."
Despite the slog, the strategy is starting to pay dividends. In February, Walker secured a deal with Target to have his products sold in its retail outlets.
The CEO explained that he's carving his own lane in the grooming market.
"By definition we are not in a saturated space," Walker told CNBC. "We are the only company that is serving the underserved. By focusing on the problem and not the product, we are able to innovate in ways that other people are not."