2 Years since we launched King of Shaves Azor and I’m Proud. “Cutting Edge” Competition is Good for shavers, World-wide.

1734-KOS_Azor_M_00204_v1-thumb-300x224-1733.jpgI can’t believe how quickly the last two years have flown by. It seems just yesterday that my team and I were finishing preparations for the debut of our King of Shaves Azor at London’s stylish Hempel Hotel, readying our Azor Battlebus and ‘4 Edge Pledge’ shave manifesto, preparing to launch a brand new competitor into the men’s system razor market, until then entirely dominated by Gillette & Schick Wilkinson Sword.

It’s been quite a ride. We entered a category which had seen little, if any competition between the incumbents, the ‘world recession’ was yet to occur, Barack Obama was yet to be elected President, Twitter was yet to ‘trend’ and the iPhone had been on the market under a year.

How quickly things change these days! Luckily (or perhaps, actively) we embrace ‘change as a constant’ at King of Shaves, and knew we were in for a hell of a ride in terms of offensive market activity by our competitors, let alone the downturn in consumer spending and a general unease about people actually buying into a new brand.

1614-azor_s_03-thumb-240x534-1613.jpgAs I write this, we’re on target to hit a 10% handle market share of system razor sales in the UK, indeed last year, in October, we hit a nigh on 20% handle market share. This despite ‘BOGOF’ handle trade promotions by our competitors increasing a whopping 10 times, and us having to really work hard to secure our retailer listings for the Azor. I’m delighted the Azor is now in over 85% distribution across the UK, our handle sales are averaging 9,000 per week in the UK alone, and the critical cartridge sales are varying between 30-50,000. I’m sure this is going to increase as people become aware of our new Azor M (alloy) system razor, and enjoy the ‘sensitive shave’ provided by our Azor S system razor. With well over 1.25m Azor handles sold, and literally hundreds of millions of ‘King of Shaves’ delivered, we’ve made our mark, and are here to stay.

1907-brazillaunch-thumb-340x255-1091.jpgMuch of what we’ve pioneered in the past two years has been ’embraced’ by our competitors too – we were the first FMCG toiletries brand to embrace the power of #socialmedia via facebook & twitter, we used our expertise in viral games to extend our brand reach world-wide (check out KingofDefenders.com & KingofAirGuitar.com) and have launched the King of Shaves Azor in international territories as diverse as South Africa, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Brazil, as well as establishing a small ‘beach-head’ in the USA, via listings in Duane Reade, the New York based drugstore.

There is much more to come.

I wanted to write this blog post firstly to thank the team I work with in making all this possible – whilst my name’s on the pack, and I feature heavily in terms of press and PR for the King of Shaves brand, none of our success would be possible without the hard work and commitment of my team in the UK, USA and overseas. But the main reason for writing this is to thank you – the user (enjoyer!) of our King of Shaves shaving software & shaving hardware (ShaveWare!) products. It wasn’t so long ago that we were selling tens of thousands of units a year. Then hundreds of thousands…then millions.

We have our objectives set high at King of Shaves. That, over the next few years we’ll come to deliver tens of millions of shaves to people world-wide – in countries as diverse as Russia, India, Europe (long time coming…) and of course, now our competitors have got ‘their’ major new product launches out of the way, the USA.

This with a uniquely designed, uniquely packaged system razor handle, one that ‘zagged’ when the others ‘zigged’, one that delivers more, for less (rather than one competitor who has recently launched a razor system costing more, for less). We’ve changed the way brands like ours advertise (witness the ‘shift’ to a bit of fun in shaving ads, rather than ‘pure, unemotional, objective performance) and we have a lot more planned in this area.

A LOT more.

1908-shavingbondads-thumb-280x373-1073.jpgFinally, a word on our Shaving Bond, which we historically debuted in June 2009; as we approach the first anniversary of the Bond, we’ll be saying a special “thanks” to our shaving bond holders, who bought into this innovative consumer brand connection mechanism, and I look forward to writing to them soon. I’m also delighted that recently, British chocolate brand, Hotel Chocolat also launched their version of our Shaving Bond, even working with our advisors.

I believe King of Shaves is the ‘Thought Leader’ in the shaving category. We’ve done what no others have ever dared to do – challenge a duopoly with attractively priced, innovative and stylish product, ‘smarketed’ in clever, creative and future facing ways, forcing them to drive down the cost of their shaving products (witness the recent TVNZ coverage on King of Shaves) and introducing much needed competition into a very ‘commercially comfortable’ category.

Writing this, I think back to what Apple, Inc. looked like in 1997. Steve Jobs had only recently returned, the company was a niche ‘designer computer’ brand, and apparently had little, if any, chance of making headway against companies like Microsoft or Dell.

In just 13 years, Apple wholeheartedly embraced the sublime strategy of “Simplicity is the ultimate Sophistication”, converged its products into human communications & leisure, took on (and is winning) massive and established mobile phone manufacturers, and proved that if you market a stylish, affordable, sexy and attractive product, which exceeds expectation in the eye of the consumer, you’ll win out.

Apple’s resources are a little bigger than ours, but our passion to mimic their success in our market sector is equal, if not more. The next 12 months will be the ‘litmus test’ if we succeed, as we plan ‘New’ for King of Shaves. But, as Microsoft, Nokia and Sony Ericcson can attest ‘The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall”.

Go on. Don’t just “Shave like a King” with King of Shaves.

Be one.