Lucky for Dollar Shave Club, they struck a marketing nerve during a perfect storm:
- People were tired of paying too much for shaving
- They were willing and wanting to have their razors and blades shipped directly to them
- The market wanted a higher quality, but did not want to spend $40/month to get it
- Their video(s) were very well-done.
While the Dollar Shave Club mostly compared based on price, a simultaneous uprising in more traditional wet shaving came around the same time, as abundantly witnessed by the following graph, courtesy Google Trends:
Unilever bet big on Dollar Shave Club’s model and team. Rightfully so, the company was able to quickly capture a large portion of Gillette’s dominance within only a few years. Furthermore, the market’s size and future growth is not expected to slow, but grow to $31B+ by the year 2020.
Instead of focusing on an improved shave experience, Dollar Shave Club’s initial push focused on differences related to price, not quality. The company effectively created its own price war. Not a bad deal for Dollar Shave Club, but very bad news for incumbent Gillette.
Per the graph above, online searches for general terms like “shave”, “wet shaving” and “safety razor” coincided with the viral spike that occurred when Dollar Shave Club entered the market. It was as if the classic wet shaving market simply road the coattails of a wave that appears to have significantly tapered in recent years.
Will Wet Shaving Ever Have its Own Moment?
Unfortunately for wet shaving hardware and accouterments providers, the margins on traditional wet shaving as it relates to recurring hardware purchases are not incentive enough for larger incumbents to even think about entering the market. At $2 to $4 a blade, both Gillette and Dollar Shave Club are still doing well on margins. No one would try to compete by selling a product that is some 10x to 20x less expensive. Any such provider would need to sell 10x to 20x the product, all at lower margins. Not something that falls within the salivating venture capital bucket for consumer goods. Hence, there are not going to be large ad budgets focused on classic wet shaving. Not going to happen. Hence, the industry remains small, obscure and essentially the red-headed step-child of shaving at large. Or, more appropriately wet shaving is the old grandpa that no one wants to spend time with. People would rather spend time with their hip cartridge razor cousin.
Here are the questions I personally have:
- Has traditional wet shaving already had its Dollar Shave Club moment?
- Was Dollar Shave Club nothing more than a catalyst that drove more people back to wet shaving? Will wet shaving have it’s own Dollar Shave Club moment?
- Without the aid of a viral video to push individuals toward market acceptance, how will classic wet shaving be able to penetrate a absolutely massive market without EVER having a massive ad budget?
- As a small, cottage industry, will wet shaving ever have a massive demand spike that is not driven by outside forces in the cartridge razor market?