Disrupting the Razor Blade Axiom, One Month at a Time.

The author cutting it back.

The author cutting it back.

We spend a lot of time in this blog discussing how recurring revenue benefits the companies that leverage them.

We don’t spend as much time talking about how customer’s benefit – whether it’s by paying as you go, getting the most appealing package that suits your specific needs, the added convenience of home delivery or delivery on demand, the stronger connection with the brand and the ability to vote with your pocketbook.

There is no better example of customer demands meeting market disruption than in the personal care category, and during this month of Movember it’s particularly apropos to spotlight what’s going on with razors and razorblades.

For marketers– if we learned anything from our course work – we couldn’t escape these two near-biblical marketing proverbs:

  1. Find a need and fill it.
  2. Sell the blades; give the razors away for free.

Every prof shouted out how these would lead us, the marketing neophyte, to the CPG Promised Land. Yet, in the recurring revenue age nothing is sacred, not even the revered razor blade. In just a few short years, thanks to the Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s the shaving industry has been turned on its ear. Traditional vendors who sell the blades at up to five bucks a pop are now taking it squarely on the chin.

The upstart subscription rivals are giving Gillette and Schick a marketing lesson, by finding a need and filling it – one subscription at a time. Somewhere post puberty the Mike’s and Harry’s learned that paying $5.00 for the weekly shave was adding up to one serious wad of dough, amounting to a whopping $14 billion worldwide. 

What if there were a better way? What if customers didn’t have to waste another hour of their day just shuck out another $20 bucks for 4 blades? What if you sold the razors and the blades at a much cheaper price and delivered them to customers when they needed them? No running out. No running to the store. No waiting in line for the clerk to call another clerk to unlock the cabinet to then wait in another line. What if this cheaper, better way allowed the Mike and Harry’s to take a sweet cut out of Mr. Gillette and Mr. Schick’s profits?

And what if the near-biblical marketing axiom was just invented by some guy or gal who has long since retired from Schick or Gillette and it wasn’t really a biblical reference at all but just a way to make some bucks?

Mike and Harry asked along with all these “what ifs” why they couldn’t also get their own cut of the action?

Over the last couple of years these “what ifs” have gotten very real. So real, in fact, Mr. Gillette was in “heavy rotation” during the World Series promoting (gasp!) their very own buy-as-you-go blades for about a buck a week (double gasp!). Fear the beard, indeed.

All your shaving needs delivered right to your doorstep.

All your shaving needs delivered right to your doorstep.

And who benefits? We do. Well at least I think we do. I’ve yet to try any of these at-home self treatments. That’s why during this month of Movember, as public service, I’ve taken the liberty to become a member of the Dollar Shave Club, get Harry’s home delivered and see what is really behind Mr. Gillette’s offer.

This month, I’m not only growing the stache in support of men’s health, I’m participating in some major market disruption. At the end of the month I’ll reveal not only my follicle achievement but will also detail the close shaves and unveil just which of these plans really keeps its edge.


About the Author

Parker Trewin
Parker Trewin is a global brand builder, communications specialist and content strategist with over 15 years of high tech experience. His efforts have led to industry-wide recognition that includes CoDIES, Stevies, Edison, MarCom Platinum, and BMA Gold awards as well as placement of thousands of articles in such notable outlets as the Wall Street Journal, the London Times, Businessweek, The New York Times, Computerworld.de, TechCrunch, Lifehacker and Huffington Post.

The Forrester Wave: Subscription Billing Platforms, Q4 2015

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