Did Gillette Flinch?

Aug 8, 2012

The safety razor was invented in 1901. About a hundred years later, Gillette owned an eighty percent share of the safety razor blade market, worth about a billion dollars a year.

Fortune Magazine recently pointed out that for the first time in its history Gillette is advertising the life of one of its blades. Gillette is saying on TV that one ProGlide cartridge will last up to five weeks. Presumably, that means up to thirty-five shaves.

This is an enormous turn in advertising strategy for Gillette. The Gillette mantra forever has been to never mention blade life. By not doing so, the company presumed that the consumer might replace it before it was necessary.

Let’s face it. None of us really is sure when to change blades.

But during the recession the premium priced Gillette brand has lost a few share points to cheaper blades. Some macho guys are even back on straight razors.

As Gillette has reached as many as six blades in a cartridge, they’re pretty pricey. The issue, though, is whether this new advertising strategy is sound in the long run.

As all previous ones, this recession, too, shall pass. Gillette may discover that the loss of a couple share points for a few years wasn’t worth it in a category measured in centuries.

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