Subscribing to Shaving Disruption.

It’s over two years now since Dollar Shave Club burst onto the shaving scene in the USA, with their LOL video & offer to shave you “for a dollar a month”.  They weren’t the first to launch a shaving subscription, that honour rests with European company Raz*War but they were the first to take it mainstream.  With substantial West Coast USA VC backing, they now have around 300,000 subscribers and are claiming 5.4% of the USA ‘cartridge market’.

We of course put our King of Shaves SUB live in April 2012, and its shipped tens of thousands of orders, and is in process of being integrated into our global brand site.  Finally, last year a stylish NYC start-up ‘Harrys’ joined the fray, making up for what they couldn’t do on price, with a stylish approach.

Razor blades through the post is basically the name of the game here, and if it’s a subscription, its pre-paid too, which is great.  That’s why magazine publishers love subscriptions, although they normally charge you a year in advance for the 12 issues you receive at a discount.

So, what’s happening right now?  Well, Gillette, undoubtedly stung by their system razor market share dropping below 85% for the first time EVER last year, have not only just launched an expensive new ‘FlexBall’ pivoting razor (that takes Fusion blades) with a $200m marketing spend behind it, but have also pivoted into Dollar Shave Club’s subscription space, albeit in a measure P&G way, by introducing their version of the ‘subscription’ service, via their own P&G eStore but also vendors, including big retail like Target, as well as online at Amazon.

So, what happens next?  Well, taking Dollar Shave and Harry’s first, DSC source OEM (private label) razors from Dorco in South Korea, who incidentally sell them even cheaper online from their own website.  This is their one source of supply, and as in the UK these razors are bought by supermakets like Sainsbury as THEIR private label offer, the route to launch in UK (for example) is interesting to say the least.  DSC have added on two products in the past year, a shaving cream they call ‘butter’ at $8 (very expensive for a shave cream) and One Wipe Charlies, essentially wet wipes for when you’re doing number 2’s.  Both of these for sure will drive up cost of shipping & handling.  I await their next move with interest.

Harry’s meanwhile raised a mind-blowing $130m to buy Feintechnic, the German manufacturer of private label razors & blades (the cartridges that Harry’s use in the USA are same as on private label razors that Aldi & Lidl sell).  It’s a bit like a Porsche chassis with a regular car engine.  But, they have gone ‘vertical’ in manufacture.

Gillette will do what Gillette do, point out fact their blades last longer, are better, cost per shave is cheaper, etc. etc.

So, what are we planning?  Well, of course I can’t reveal all here, but as we are making 95% of our Hyperglide product ourselves, rather than buying from a manufacturer we are for sure able to be ‘price competitive’ and along with our shaving oils, and new sub site, able to start growing our subscriber numbers using clever marketing techniques, as being used by our competitors.  What is clear, and what both Harry’s and DSC have ‘nailed’ is not only the offer (DSC = cheapest, Harrys = stylish) but the online digital communities (the DSC fanboys, the Harry’s hipster advocates)

At King of Shaves, if I had to use three words to describe what we are/do and represent I’d probably say “World’s Best Shave” or – as it says on the tin, King of shaves.  For us to be that, and grow our fan base, we must always deliver the best product, for the best price, in the most convenient way for the customer, with the best customer service.  The barriers to entry in our market are high, with patents and all, but what we do know is we must forever be improving our UI & UX – both at ‘product’ level as well as ‘brand experience’ level, not just in the UK, but other countries around the world.

Like I say in my entrepreneurial talks or presentations, ’embrace change as a constant’, remember ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’ and ‘there is no room for good, only GREAT’ in thw ‘word of mouse’ rate or slate world we live in.