27 Aug 2014
13 Aug 2014
A ‘Millennial’ according to Wikipedia is a person who was born between 1984-2000. That’s someone who’ll be between 30 and 14 as I write this. So what?
Well, this is firstly, a generation that has grown up (especially if they were born in the early 90′s) with A) the Internet and B) Mobile phones. And this is important for brands. Before the WWW brands pretty much used mainly TV and of course press, to ‘Brand Broadcast’ their products to consumers, and these consumers would go down to the shops and buy them, and either stick with them, or not. This all changed in 2006, with firstly the introduction of Facebook (sharing personal content at scale) and then in 2007 with Twitter (sharing ‘what you were doing right NOW’ at scale). Now, of course, we have Snapchat (sharing privately what you are doing at scale) and… well, who knows whats’ next.
We now live in a world of ‘Digital Dialogue’ where opinions are instantly expressed, often ‘knee-jerk’ (Rate or Slate) and these opinions may or may not be listened to when it comes to purchase of products.
This interests me a lot. In April 1993, when I founded King of Shaves and started shaving with a shaving oil, I was 28. I didn’t like shaving, I got a shaving rash, you could only buy Gillette or Wilkinson (or, at a push – Bic) and shave with a steel can of shaving foam or gel. So much for selection and shaving satisfaction.
So, I’ve grown up with King of Shaves, next Monday I turn 49, and am no longer the super cool dude I thought I once was (well, maybe I’m kinda alright).
In 1999, my son Cameron was born, he turns 15 later this year, and is already shaving (yep, amazed me – for sure). He uses a Hyperglide, and keeps his skin clean and free of pimples with some of our products. This made me think. “Wow, so all the men who started King of Shaves in volume, from 1996-7 onwards (when our sales hit £1m pa) will hopefully have stuck with us over all these years, and THEIR sons will see King of Shaves in the bathroom, ask Dad what he shaves with, and maybe engage with us.
I’ve no idea how many thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of young people will start to shave ‘in the digital age’ where they actually have a choice. You know what, they won’t be like me – when I had the choice of – um – Gillette. Nope, they’ve got a myriad of choices now, and I’ll be intrigued to see what happens to our sales, and our user demograph over the coming decade.
After a two year slow down in sales (men shaving less frequently, rise of beards, cost of razor cartridges et al) sales seem to be picking up… OK, the recession has ended. OK people may have more money in their pockets. If they’re going for a job, they may want to make a ‘clean cut’ first impression, and shave. I do know that along with sales of shaving preps and razors/blades, sales of men’s deos are down and the only sector that’s in growth is men’s skincare.
But, what will be the impact of the rise of the Millennial shaver? WIll he (and of course she) get behind brands that were launched just before or during their lifetime. Or perhaps stick with ‘The Best Grandad Could Get’.
It’ll be intriguing to watch, that’s for sure.
7 Aug 2014
Those of you who follow my blog posts, tweets et al, will know that one of my favourite sayings is “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. Making things ‘simple’ allows easy use of them, whether mobile phones (iOS7 for example is a great example of a SITUS UI/UX) or razors (our superhydrophilic Hyperglide razor, launched earlier this year allows you to shave with just water).
Right now, in men’s grooming, always cited as being in growth, actually isn’t. Parts of it are – men’s skincare for example (up due to major promotions between Nivea, L’Oreal and Dove) but in other sectors – men’s bodyspray/deodorants, shaving preps (our key market) and razors (actually down 6% year on year – not something Gillette are happy about) – sales are DOWN.
In fact, you could argue that if sales promotions (the 50% offers that are so prevalent today) were stopped, the market volumes & values would dive.
In 1993, when King of Shaves launched, the men’s ‘grooming’ market simply didn’t exist, other than razors, shower-gels, body-sprays and shaving foams, gels. Now, it’s highly evolved, with lots of players, large and small all selling their own product range, either at big retail (rare) or more likely, on-line or in niche, boutique stockists.
So, what to do, to bring ‘NEW’ to the market that isn’t ‘NEW for NEW’s SAKE’.
Well, make 2 go into 1 (if possible) and simplify the regime (without compromise).
This thinking led to the introduction of our latest product, Shave+Shield. Most, if not all shaving preps (not including our shaving oils) are soap, or surfactant based – this is what makes them ‘foam’ or ‘low foam’. However, if you didn’t wash them off, they would dry your skin really aggressively, and leave it dry and parched. The foam/low foam is great to see where you’ve shaved/are shaving, but it doesn’t help one bit when it comes to skin moisturisation throughout the day.
Shave+Shield is a hybrid shaving preparation + moisturiser, that after you’ve shaved with it, you rub it in, or add a little more from the tube, and apply. It has a clever formulation that not only delivers essential razor glide, shave comfort (and yes, it makes Hyperglide even Hyperglidier!) but it also protects the skin, post shave.
You might argue “but, you sell your great Super Shield Moisturiser with UVA/UVB filters – won’t people not buy that?” My response would be that probably 99% of that product is sold to people, possibly using other shaving products, whether razors, gels, creams or foams and right now, to the current user of our AlphaGel. So, we believe S+S will deliver incremental sales, from people who are willing to look at adopting ‘the new’.
With the supermarket shelves being so dominated by (and cluttered by) big brands, with multiple sku’s these days, it’s important to have a clear point of difference and reason to be there. Shave+Shield retails at £4.99, so if you buy a shave prep and a moisturiser (many of which are priced at £8-16) you can not only shave better and protect your skin and shave money (sic).
King of Shaves has always been about “Skincare in Shaving” or #Skingcare as I’d punningly put it. Shave+Shield is our latest, and I’m now testing our next product. More details on that, later in the year, early next!
4 Aug 2014
I’d forgotten I’d given an interview to a journalist about razors, shaving – quite an in-depth interview as it happened, which has just come out in the latest (September) issue of Esquire.
It’s well worth a read, if you’d like to learn more about this pretty unique consumer goods segment, and how the respective players are innovating (or not).
7 Jul 2014
I watched the movie “Chef” at The Everyman in Maida Vale last night. If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil it for you, but as I watched it, I reckon it’s a modern metaphor for how businesses can fail, restart and succeed. In short, it has all the ingredients (sorry) for business success in the modern age.
There were three takeaways (sorry again) for business owners.
- Don’t just keep doing what you’ve been doing (whilst the world’s expectations change).
- Don’t even think about serving your burnt Cuban Sandwich.
- Make it great, and they will come.
Keep It Fresh. In the movie, the Chef (who was once pretty avant garde – and gets hired for being avant garde – then spends years working in an ace kitchen for an owner, serving up what was once avant garde, but then (after years) isn’t. Sure, it still tastes nice, and people like it, but it’s lost the reason people first came to the restaurant to eat it. Enter a food critic, who pans it on twitter, and… Well – like I said, I won’t spoil the plotline. Lesson here, is don’t just keep making what you have to make, or have made in the past. Keep reinventing your menu of products or services, to always keep on the cutting edge (sorry) of your sector. Otherwise, people who once loved you for being new and different, lose their appetite for you if you keep serving the same old. For us, although we know our AlphaGel, a multi-award winning shaving gel over many years (launched in 1995) – is a great shaving gel, we also want to try and bring along better, hence the development of the soon-to-be-launched Shave+Shield – a shave gel that doubles up as a moisturiser post shave (ie you don’t have to wash it off).
If you’ve Burnt it, Bin it. Half way through the movie, the Chef’s son (who hasn’t been spending much time with his Dad due to being separated from his wife) is enrolled by Dad to help him clean out the inside of his food truck, and then help him cook ‘on the line’. The success of any food business is serving consistency and quality, time and time again (“like a robot” as Chef says) – and if you don’t serve to a consistently high standard, then people will be disappointed. The son burns one of the Cuban sandwiches, but is still prepared to serve it “because we haven’t paid for it (the business has been bankrolled by his mum’s ex-husband, complicated – I know). Chef rightly takes his son aside, and explains in no uncertain terms, you must never serve food (or sell products) you know aren’t as good as they good be. The son “gets it”. For us, we fell into this trap for a number of reasons which I won’t go into, with our first 5 blade razor, Azor 5 we launched in early 2011. In 2008, we’d launched our original 4 blade razor, the Azor to good acclaim, and had built up a good vibe about it (“shave closer, longer, for less”). However, we were under pressure from a number of areas, to add another blade (Fusion has 5 blades, as does Hydro). So, although I’d been rather scathing of “how many blades do you need to shave with…?” we succumbed and launched Azor 5. Truth be told, the shave wasn’t a step-up in particular from Azor 4, and as we’d also changed the handle design, to make it weightier, that had issues too. In short, compared to our recently launched Hyperglide, which is an absolute Michelin Starred level of razor, Azor 5 was not what we should have launched, even though it was a ‘good’ razor (and many hundreds of thousands of people use it!)
Create a Storm in a Tweet cup. Finally, in the film, whilst Chef is great at cooking up a storm, there’s no point cooking if no one’s there to enjoy it! The 10 year old son delivers a masterclass in what we term ‘smarketing’ at King of Shaves, or ‘social media marketing’. This requires a number of components to work, and how this happens ‘at scale’ in the film is exactly how it can happen in the real world. Firstly, following the restaurant critic’s review of the food (bad) which he tweets out, the Chef, who takes great pride in his cooking tweets the critic back letting the critic know his thoughts (which he thinks is a private message or DM – but of course, is on the public timeline). So, this exchange gets RT’d by the critic, starts to go viral and Chef (who’s had his twitter account set up by his son) gets lots of followers. He then gets what we call a ‘publicity point’, when the critic returns to eat again, has a bust up with the chef, which gets video’d and posted online. Causing all manner of hiatus.
The son then spends the rest of the film capturing, tweeting & curating the ‘journey’ of his Dad, from cleaning up his food truck, to its ensuing road-trip and ending up where they started, in LA – the van’s visit now anticipated by the tens of thousands of followers, ensuring an unbelievable stream of customers. Sounds unlikely. I don’t think so at all. Publicity is the oxygen of success, and by using social media to engage with your diners, let them know where you’ll be, and when – well – as long as your product is great, you’ll succeed. The icing on the cake is that the critic returns and… Well, you’ll have to watch the film to see whether the ending is a sour or sweet one.
To summarise, A) have passion for what you do and keep reigniting that passion, B) don’t serve up a bad product – ever – and C) help people engage with you, your story and your business – for word of mouth customers – or word of mouse customer (even better) are ones that will stay with you forever.
Film rating: 5 star. Business learnings, top class.
Now, how do I get my hands on a Cuban Sandwich in Beaconsfield?!