For more than 100 years, Gillette has proclaimed its razorblades are "the best a man can get"--but online shoppers are discovering that's no longer true. 

More and more men are buying razorblades online, turning to relative newcomers in the razorblade marketplace like Dollar Shave Club, 800Razors, and Harry's, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. Online men's razorblade sales for this year already total $141 million, and have forced the usual market leaders like Gillette and Schick to rethink the way they market their blades.

Here's how these online-only startups have overtaken industry giants.

Don't underestimate the power of the Web

The rate at which online razor sales have grown has even caught industry experts by surprise. Online razor sales jumped from $111 million in 2013 to $189 million in 2014. "It's kind of incredible that happened all in a year," Tim Barrett, an analyst at Euromonitor International, told the Journal. As a result, Gillette has had to play catch-up, launching its online subscription service, Gillette Shave Club, in 2014, two years after the arrival of Dollar Shave Club.

Keep your sales pitch honest

Gillette claims that men will spend around $5 a month on razorblades through its Gillette Shave Club. While it's significantly cheaper than Dollar Shave's top plan at $9 a month, it's also disingenuous.

Gillette's sales pitch, aiming to boost its subscriber base, claims users only have to change cartridges once a month. But the reality is, most regular shavers need to update their blades more often. Once the user has to start buying blades piecemeal, Gillette's $5 apiece five-bladed Fusion ProGlide has a much heftier price than Dollar Shave’s six-bladed Executive for $2.25.

Gillette's competitors like Schick are now claiming this false promise of savings is backfiring on sales across the entire traditional industry. "One of the major manufacturers in this industry is talking about 'longevity communication,' both on-pack and in broadcast media, essentially telling consumers that they can use these products longer, which has had some effect on product use-up rates," said Al Robertson, a chief marketing officer for Energizer, which produces Schick. 

In response, a Gillette spokesperson said that men should change their blades “whenever they’re not getting a close and comfortable shave.” It's just the kind of dubious corporatespeak that leaves consumers running for startups.

Be innovative where it matters

Dollar Shave Club's sales took off after founder Mike Dubin released a low-budget video in 2012 proclaiming "Our Blades are F**** Great." In the video, Dubin admitted that the blades weren't technically groundbreaking. But an underdog yelling, "Do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a backscratcher, and 10 blades?" is just the kind of candor that consumers respond to. The video resulted in 12,000 orders for Dollar Shave Club just two days after the video's release. In 2014, Dollar Shave Club's revenue exceeded $60 million, more than triple that of the previous year.

Published on: Jun 23, 2015