The Gillette’s latest razor is finally hitting store shelves after months of hype, and the skirmish pits the consumer products behemoth against Schick, a smaller but still formidable challenger.
by Matt Sepic
This latest version of Gillettes Fusion, the ProGlide, still has just six blades. But you wouldn’t know it from the hundreds of millions of dollars Gillette pumped into the razors design and its marketing. The ProGlide features thinner blades and better lubrication. But Damon Jones with Gillette parent Procter & Gamble says even the loudest ads arent enough to make men switch brands. “It’s one thing to watch a commercial, but when we put the razor in the hands of guys and they try it, they tell us, ‘Wow.’ So we’re really going to depend on the word of mouth.”
Meanwhile, Schick, owned by Energizer, is pushing its new Hydro razor just as aggressively. Its selling point is a reservoir of water-activated gel. Lindell Chew, a marketing professor at the University of Missouri St. Louis., says Schick has always been more innovative even adding tiny clippers to its earlier Quattro line. “This product has a four-blade disposable on one end. It has a hair cutting tool on the other end. Its operated by a triple-A battery.”
But despite Schick’s technical wizardry, Chew says it’ll have to fight hard for shelf space; Gillettes Procter & Gamble dominates the consumer products industry. “They’re going very aggressive with these billion-dollar brands that they have,” and carving out deals that will often wipe out the number two brand, not just the three, four, five and six brand,” he says.
Chew says Proctor and Gambles Duracell is a perfect example. Earlier this year, it used its market clout to bump Energizer batteries out of CVS drug stores. But for customers confused by all the competing razor blades, vintage simplicity is making a comeback. Online retailers of those double-edged safety blades your grandfather used say business is booming. And while replacement cartridges for the latest razors can cost more than four bucks each, the retro blades are as little as 15 cents.
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