CHICAGO – Their names are evocative: Mountain Rush. Wild Rain. Tsunami. Clean Impact. Voodoo. Fresh Blast.

Their labels, provocative: “Caution: Habitual use … could lead to seriously close encounters,” reads one. “Leaves you feeling fresh, clean and ready for action, even when you push your limits,” suggests another.

The product? Body deodorant sprays for men.

The major players – Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Gillette and Coty – have all jumped in the game within the last year, filling U.S. store shelves with at least five varieties and more than three times that number of scents.

Since its U.S. introduction late last summer, Axe, for one, has rung up almost $30 million in sales in the period ending May 18, according to retail tracker Information Resources Inc.

Unlike antiperspirants, body deodorant sprays are meant to be spritzed beyond a man’s underarm territory, then last all day.

“It stops guys from smelling bad and makes them smell good,” said Unilever’s Michelle Holland, the maker of Axe. “It’s one thing to wear a cologne that will mask smell. It’s another thing to stop odors emitting from the body.”

And, Holland points out, guys are realizing there are multiple emitters – 15, to be precise, according to Unilever’s Research & Development director Judy Rahn – underarms, feet, inner elbows, hands, backs of knees, groin, back, chest, scalp and neck. (And yes, women have the same odor areas).

The reason such attention is being paid to how men smell is simple enough: the market is hot and that means big bucks. The number of new toiletries for men rolled out in 2001 doubled over those introduced in 2000, then doubled again in 2002, according to research company Mintel’s Global New Products Database. And the first five months of 2003? On pace with 2002, according to Mintel.

The numbers have been helped along by young men such as 16-year-old Adam Konoff and 15-year-old Patrick Robinson.

Konoff, who has worn several different Axe scents, counts Apollo and Tsunami among his favorites.

“I always wore the stick (deodorant) but my brother (20-year-old Brian) started wearing the spray and it’s more convenient,” said the soon-to-be high school junior. “Personally, I like the smells of them.”

Robinson, 15, is a fan of Old Spice’s High Endurance, either Pure Sport or Fresh.

“I usually use it everyday,” he said, “like if I’m going out or just to kind of smell fresh around the house.”

Brent Miller of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble, which makes Old Spice, would not be surprised to hear the young men talk.

“The men’s grooming market (in the U.S.) is growing at twice the rate of the women’s grooming market,” Miller said – to the tune of about $4.3 billion in 2000. It’s expected to grow about 5 percent a year, according to Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com.

Those dollar signs, coupled with high-profile advertising campaigns by Unilever, Gillette and Procter & Gamble, prompted “body spray wars” in the United States, according to one Packaged Facts report.

Such sprays have been in Europe for several years. So why the delay in bringing the product here?

“A lot of the (antiperspirant) market in the United States tends to be more stick-based versus the aerosol,” Miller said. “The European market tends to be very aerosol-based.”

Furthermore, for years many guys used bars of soap to wash their hair.

That has changed.

Not only are they using shampoo now, but they’re also conditioning – and using a separate facial cleanser and moisturizer and exfoliating scrub.

“We’re seeing activities that are new to the male consumer,” Miller said. “It’s essentially because Generation X and Generation Y have really broken down a lot of the barriers that existed for older men that kept them from using grooming products. … Guys are watching MTV. There are a lot more young-guy-oriented programs out there that have increased their image consciousness and told them it’s OK to groom.”

And then there are those so-called lad mags – Stuff, Maxim, FHM.

“If you notice the proliferation of lad mags, the content is definitely about women but also about getting the girl and about grooming,” Holland said. “And so men have become more interested.

“Young men are concerned about impressing ladies. And you never know when that opportunity’s going to come up,” she said. “The bull’s-eye for the brand is an 18-year-old male. … And his interest in young women is universal.”

(EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE)

A test of the senses

Their names sound like a week’s worth of programming on the Weather Channel or ESPN. But those names – Tsunami, Arctic Peak, Sport Fever – tell only part of the story of men’s body sprays.

A quick look at the labels hints at their promises. As for how the sprays smell – and with the caveat that one man’s pine forest is another man’s fruit orchard – we pulled together eight of them for an informal, blind sniff test. A mix of men and women decided whether they liked a scent and what it brought to mind. Most are available at Target and drugstores for $3 to $5 each. Here they are in rough order of popularity.

Axe Deodorant Bodyspray

Fragrance: Tsunami

Sniff stuff: “Dishwashing soap … Furniture polish – in a good way … Citrusy …You shouldn’t smell like Pledge.”

On the label: “Caution: Habitual use of Axe could lead to seriously close encounters.”

Gillette Series Body Spray Deodorant

Fragrance: Wild Rain

Sniff stuff: “Takes me back to my teens … British Sterling and Doug at the drive-in … Very youthful … Overwrought … High school … Generic perfume.”

On the label: “Keeps you ready for anything.”

Old Spice High Endurance Deodorant Body Spray

Fragrance: Pure Sport

Sniff stuff: “Piney … Ireland, in the countryside. She runs toward me with open arms. … Like my dad … Vaguely industrial.”

On the label: “Effective deodorant protection.”

Adidas 24-Hour Fragrance Deodorant Body Spray

Fragrance: Dynamic Pulse

Sniff stuff: “Ocean tropics … Musky … Smarties … Definitely a unique scent … Room deodorizer … Necco wafers … Kind of sweet.”

On the label: “High performance.”

Old Spice High Endurance Deodorant Body Spray

Fragrance: Fresh

Sniff stuff: “Outdoorsy … Nostalgic … Musky shag carpet … Antiseptic … Detergent … Head shop … Doll perfume.”

On the label: “To keep you feeling fresh throughout the day.”

Axe Deodorant Bodyspray

Fragrance: Kilo

Sniff stuff: “Vanilla/butter … Too sweet … A jock (athlete) … Too foody … Doesn’t get the hormones cookin.’ “

On the label: “Just hold can 6 inches from your body and spray it all over, including your chest, neck, underarms – all the hot spots.”

Adidas 24-Hour Fragrance Deodorant Body Spray

Fragrance: Sport Fever

Sniff stuff: “Exotic, yet subtle … Girls’ locker room … Floral … New furniture … Baby powder … Too sweet … Off lemony.”

On the label: “Developed with adidas’ in-depth skin and body knowledge.”

Right Guard Xtreme Sport Deodorant Body Spray

Fragrance: Cool Peak

Sniff stuff: “Pine-shaped car air freshener … Trapped in a newly cleaned bathroom against my will … Fruity … My uncle Bob … A bit overwhelming.”

On the label: “Leaves you feeling fresh, clean and ready for action.”


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