March 8, 2010, - 6:05 pm
File this under: Not for Mo’Nique.
It’s a tough economy. We all know that. And given that, it’s an odd time for a company to launch a premium–and higher-priced–version of something that’s become not much more than a commodity: a razor.
Premium Razor Wars: Gillette Fusion ProGlide v. Schick Hydro
But in June, Procter & Gamble will launch Gillette Fusion ProGlide, a men’s razor product that’s relatively pricey compared to the average razor for men. And, in April, Schick will launch its Schick Hydro, also more expensive than the rest of its shaving line. Here are the details of the Fusion ProGlide:
A four-pack of the new manual cartridges—the first significant upgrade to Gillette’s Fusion line since its 2006 launch—will sell for about $16.99, and blades for the battery-powered razor for $17.99, a 15% premium to regular Fusion blades, which already run about twice the average price in the category.
Gillette executives bemoan constantly being asked when they will come out with a “ten-blade razor.” Instead of adding more blades, this time the company is promising several technological advances, such as blade edges so fine they can only be seen at high magnification, a “snow-plow guard” that prevents hydroplaning and a new ergonomic grip that improves traction.
For some guys, for whom a five-o’clock shadow or sensitive skin are issues, the extra price might be worth it, if the razor delivers. But it seems a gamble in a bad economy. Apparently, razors are big business, though the discounted versions are gaining steam in the tough economic times:
The Fusion, P&G’s top-selling line of razors, brings in more than $1 billion world-wide each year.
The company doesn’t give actual figures, but U.S. data from market-research firm Information Resources Inc., which exclude sales from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and club stores, show dollar sales of Fusion razors rose more than 15% last year, even as the overall cartridge market shrank slightly under pressure from the recession.
But getting men comfortable with the high price of the current Fusion line has already been difficult.
During the recession, Gillette has had to make a case for affordability, with ads that claim the Fusion can be used for as little as $1 a week.
Sales of private-label disposable razors, usually the cheapest shaving option in stores, rose 14% last year, according to IRI. Meanwhile Gillette’s chief competitor, Energizer Holdings Inc.’s Schick, posted a 20% gain in 2009 over the year earlier period with its Quattro Titanium cartridges. Sales of both private-label and Quattro remain far behind Gillette’s, however.
Since there aren’t more blades or closeness as advantages, P&G, in my view will have a hard sell. But only men will know for sure. P&G is using these marketing points:
P&G says the new Fusion’s aim is to make shaving more pleasant.
“Men tell us their number-one need is comfort,” Mr. Wohl says. “They tell us they want less tug and pull, and less irritation.”
And then, there’s Schick’s premium razor offering, which sounds like it does the same thing:
The Schick Hydro uses blade guards to control skin-bulging while shaving, thus reducing irritation, [Energizer Chief Executive Ward] Klein said. A new hydrating “reservoir” has aloe-infused lubrication, and once it is depleted, users will more clearly be reminded to replace the cartridge, he said. The blade also features a flip-top trimmer to more easily groom facial hair. . . .
Schick is hedging its approach. A five-blade Hydro version will cost as much as 20% more than Schick’s current line of premium Quattro blades, though the company declined to specify the price. A three-blade Hydro version will cost less than its Quattro line, the company said.
So, guys, would you pay a little extra to try this allegedly “better” shave? And if it works in reducing pull and irritation, would you make the more expensive razors a habit? (Women have already gotten into the habit of paying premiums for premium hair removal.)
Even if you had to give up something else in your life to make up for the extra cost?
Tags: Energizer, Gillette, Gillette Fusion ProGlide, P & G, premium, Procter & Gamble, razor, razor war, razor wars, Schick, Schick Hydro, shave, shaving