There’s not a person who hasn’t heard of Gillette. Introduced back in 1901 and patented by King C. Gillette, it was the official razor of the United States during World War I.
For the longest time, Gillette didn’t have a worthy competitor, but today there are numerous alternatives for people who want more affordable options and home-delivered razors and self-care products.
Among them is Dollar Shave Club, a company that does exactly what I previously mentioned: they monthly deliver razor blades to customers and also offer grooming products.
This made them the top subscription service brand with over three million subscribers.
Gillette was the leader of the razor market for decades, but we all know nothing lasts forever. Despite them investing tens of millions of dollars into research and development, customized innovative blade designs simply aren’t what people want anymore.
They want affordable stuff that will get shipped to them every month. They want simplicity, convenience, and assurance that every month they will receive their box full of their favorite stuff that they use every day. There’s a reason subscription services are becoming more and more popular and this is exactly it.
Why would you inconvenience yourself and go to a supermarket only to find that now there’s a new razor by Gillette that you can purchase? How do you know if this one is better than the one you used before and if it’s going to suit your skin? You simply don’t, and if you do want to purchase it, it’s not going to be cheap.
Gillette realized Dollar Shave Club’s popularity and in 2015, they filed a patent infringement suit against them. Gillette claimed that the way Dollar Shave Club was coating their blades was similar to Gillette’s 2004 patent. The changes were dropped two months after Dollar Shave Club filed a countersuit.
Gillette’s fear of Dollar Shave Club taking over the market was not unfounded.
After Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club in July 2016, it placed them in second place on the US razor market, right after Gillette. Can you imagine having a 100 years old company being threatened by one that was founded in 2011? This is the great thing about brands that are simple and convenient.
In 2010, Gillette claimed a US market share of 70%, but in 2016, it fell to 54%. In 2017, Gillette came up with a subscription service called Gillette On Demand (formerly Gillette Shave Club) as an effort to compete with Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s, another razor subscription service.
Cut to 2019, and Gillette’s controversial ad.
On January 13th in 2019, Gillette posted an ad called ‘We Believe: The Best Men Can Be’. This short film, almost 2 minutes long, featured images of men and toxic masculinity, bullying, and sexual harassment and called upon men to ‘say the right things’ and ‘act the right way’.
The ad ends with the words ‘It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more, that we can get closer to our best’. However, it didn’t get the best reactions.
There was an outrage, mostly among men who felt like Gillette was attacking the entirety of the male population and stereotyping men. Many of them vowed to never purchase anything made by Gillette and Proctor and Gamble (who owns Gillette) ever again. Despite the ad not having any malicious messages, it caused a lot of rage and hate, damaging the reputation of their brand in the process.
The day after the ad was posted, Dollar Shave Club tweeted a simple and short tweet: ‘Welcome to the Club’, it said.
Welcome to the Club.— Dollar Shave Club (@DollarShaveClub) January 14, 2019
A jab at Gillette or not, there’s no doubt that a huge amount of the people offended by the ad switched from Gillette to this subscription service. The tweet gained almost 3.000 retweets and over 15.000 likes and if you look at the replies, you will see a ton of people saying that they’re there because of Gillette’s ad.
During the week the ad was posted, Gillette’s buzz score decreased from 5.8 to -3.4, which means that people were talking about the brand mostly negatively. They started losing money even before the ad because subscription services appeared and more and more men aren’t shaving, but the ad surely didn’t make their sales any better.
Between 2012 and 2017, Procter and Gamble’s razor market share dropped by more than 13% in the US. Mid 2019, Procter and Gamble reported an after-tax charge of 8 billion on Gillette, an impact of men growing beards and other men choosing Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s.
Dollar Shave Club grew $200 million in sales within 5 years and owns almost 7% of the US shaving market. They’re gaining subscribers at a rate of 10% a year and as we already mentioned, they have almost 4 million subscribers.
They offer a number of products aside from razors: shave butter and lather, post-shave cream and prep scrub, repair serum, deodorants, wipes, shampoos, conditioners, body cleansers and soaps, hair styling products (hair gel, pomade, paste, and cream), oral care (toothpastes, toothbrushes, floss), skincare products such as lip balm and hand cream, and even cologne (with a really neat design, may I add). Their ads were well received and they continue to be, while the variety of their products ensures more interest and new subscribers.
Undoubtedly, subscription services are here to stay. The razor market has been going downhill for a while now since men are growing beards, but the ones that prefer to keep a clean face are abandoning expensive razors and choosing more affordable and convenient options. Convenience stores are a hassle for everybody and choosing a good razor and keeping your stock up even more so.
Dollar Shave Club is providing people with more economical options, all delivered to the comfort of their own homes. Both their service and their razors are simple, which is what people want and so, Dollar Shave Club’s market share will definitely keep growing.