March 8, 2010, - 6:05 pm

Premium Razor War: Guys, Would You Pay Extra for a Good Shave?

By Debbie Schlussel

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.

fusionproglideschickhydro

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?

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34 Responses

As you said, unless there is a dire need for a close shave or one’s skin is sensitive, why bother? This could conceivably be of interest to women who shave their legs, etc.

sorrow01 on March 8, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I have just finished my own personal “shave off” between many of the razors I looked to buy. I usually buy a years worth when they are on sale so knowing the correct blade to use is well worth it to me.
The high priced blades are well worth it for both price and comfort. The trick is to rinse the blade with distilled water
so the minerals don’t deposit on the ultra sharp blades in between shaves. Distilled water is a buck a gallon at Krogers or Piggly Wiggly or what-have-you. By doing this final rinse
the premium blades last a month or two. By the end of a month
the $4.00 blade has only cost a dime a shave. After a month of use the ultra premium blades were sharper than the standard blades after the second shave..
My conclusion is (drum roll)….Buy the Schick Quattro or Gillette Fusion and take care of it.

Tim on March 8, 2010 at 6:30 pm

C’mon, Debbie. Procter, not Proctor. Not like P&G is a new company!

JeffT on March 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Would I pay extra? No. I gave up on all the hyped razors when they went from two blades to three. I purchased an old fashioned double edge razor. It works fine, and I can purchase a 10 pack of blades for about $2.

dan on March 8, 2010 at 6:53 pm

As a swarthy male of Mediterranean descent who could easily pass for a local on the embattled streets of Kandahar, I’ve become scornful of these “shaver 2.0″ devices. Fact is, my beard is thicker than thistle and coarser than horsehair. Three whacks at my face will render asunder the finest Gillette twin-blade.

Graty Slapchop on March 8, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    You could always use a freshly sharpened axe for that ever so close shave, as did the loggers of yore.

    sorrow01 on March 8, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Been using cheapo bic shavers since I was 17. No regrets.

Tempus Fugit on March 8, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Switch to an electric, a quality one like Braun. You’ll never go back. Plus, you can shave in traffic, thereby multi-tasking.

spiffo on March 8, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I LOVE the Fusion razor. It’s the only one that has ever not failed me miserably. Not only did it NOT fail miserably, it works really FREAKIN’ good! I don’t mind paying the extra money for it.

I would probably try one of these… I’ve not tried the powered fusion razor… but I haven’t needed to. Might be worth it to give it a whirl.

Larry on March 8, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Much better and cheaper way. Go to classicshaving.com and order the Merkur classic safety razor. Less than $30 and lasts forever. Blades are $6 bucks a ten pack and very good. Gives a REAL close shave. First couple of days i had it I cut myself a few times more than usual.

kingfish on March 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Electric (Panny) all the way. Used to shave at work. Now I can shave in the shower.

skzion on March 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm

I used the cheapo blades for years, but my skin is too sensitive. It costs me many nights of irritation. I broke down and bought one of the first Fusions on the market and never looked back. The however is painful so I make those replacement
last for as long as I can.

ZENN LA on March 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Packaged razors are ridiculous. The straight razor is still the best shaving tool bar none. Pricey start up? Yes, but over time it will save you money. Unfortunately, Most men have forgotten how to use these beauties. Packaged cartridge razors are incredibly wasteful and honestly just not that good, same goes for that terrible shaving goop they market with them.

Ragnar on March 8, 2010 at 8:51 pm

A good razor such as the Fusion, Mach 3, or Quattro do make shaving much better. A closer shave an less irritation. What is at least important as a good razor is a good shaving cream or gel. King of Shaves gel is great. No breakouts or ingrown hairs. It is a bit pricey at $6 or $7 for a tube but you use very little (a drop a bit larger than a pea). So the tube lasts 6 month to a year. You can go old school with a straight razor for the best shave but they have to be constantly sharpened and you have to be careful not to cut yourself. This being said, there is a point of diminishing returns and I may try the new razors mentioned but unless they are a lot better, I’m sticking with the regular Fusion. A blade lasts me two to three weeks, not 1 month.

Ken on March 8, 2010 at 8:53 pm

If it works well on my beardage, I will buy it. Fusion has been best so far.

bobblackmer on March 8, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I use a Gillette Mach 3 razor. The shave is sufficient and I wouldn’t pay more than what I pay now for a “better” shave.

David on March 8, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I will try a pack. A brand new Fusion blade shaves me incredibly close but by the 4th use, it’s tearing my face apart. My beard is just too coarse and no amount of shaving cream helps.

Greg on March 8, 2010 at 10:27 pm

I’m growing a beard. Something wrong with my shampoo because it is growing in all gray. That didn’t happen 20-years ago. Hmmmmmmmmm

#1 Vato on March 8, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Try Just for Men “shampoo”. It’ll restore the color the other shampoo has removed. :)

Greg on March 9, 2010 at 12:15 am

I’ve been using the Fusion now for about eight months without replacing the blade(although I have several I purchased in a close out. This blade after 8 months is still better than a new disposable.

EDS on March 9, 2010 at 1:13 am

Switch to an electric, a quality one like Braun. You’ll never go back.

spiffo on March 8, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Switch from a Braun to a Panasonic. You’ll never go back. Dry or wet.

My current shaver: the Panasonic ES8103S. I switched from Braun years ago. Never looked back. No need for a special cleaning system. Super smooth and mechanically reliable.

Debbie, you forgot to mention that Jewish law prohibits men from using a razor blade (“Ta’ahr”) for shaving the facial beard. You should never know. ;)

Shy Guy on March 9, 2010 at 1:43 am

Guys, I go Norelco. Braun, while great quality COSTS TOO MUCH!

Bob Porrazzo on March 9, 2010 at 6:22 am

I use an old fashioned safety razor,brush and shaving soap, love it. Would not use anything else. Can’t stand the new stuff. My blades cost $5.00 for ten and last at least two weeks. Can’t tell the difference between the two shaves and I have a heavy beard.

mdreb on March 9, 2010 at 8:08 am

I used the Quattro and the blades last maybe 3 shaves. I shave 3 times a week. It is an expensive habit and my wife has grown accustomed to me never shaving until Summer months. During Fall, Winter and Spring I just trim down completely or keep a kempt beard.

They are too expensive and wear out too easily. The indicator strip goes away after one shave for me.

Ken Blazek on March 9, 2010 at 9:42 am

Another positive for Fusion – they are great for shaving your head. I’ve only nicked my head a handfull of times since I started shaving my head.

Jarhead on March 9, 2010 at 10:43 am

Anything less than 3 blades these days is worthless on an actual male’s facial hair. I have a Panasonic shaver and a Braun that I use. I liked the OLD Panasonic the best but it died. The newer one is not nearly as good. I use the Braun 7XXX Synchro, similar to this one :

http://www.amazon.com/Braun-7680-Syncro-Shaver-Refurbished/dp/B00006L9CA/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&s=hpc&qid=1268150997&sr=1-15

Don’t pay extra for the worthless cleaning “base” and the stupid blue fluid though. Total ripoffs.

I also had a cheapo Remington that worked well in the past – it wasn’t the closest shave but I could use it every day w/o irritation. It died and the new “improved” replacement model SUCKED. It was like shaving with a cheese grater.

Also, do they still make Afta Pre-shave? That stuff is great but I can’t find it in the stores any more. It is much better than that greasy crap called Letric Shave. Es disgracia!!!

I have sensitive skin and burly dark whiskers, so no solution is perfect for me. I can’t shave every day, period. Luckily my hot tomato likes the scruff while we fist pump all night long in salute of our Italian pride.

Pauly D on March 9, 2010 at 11:19 am

I just need to trim my beard to stubble every now and then. I’m one of those guys with a weak chin and a beard looks better on me than being clean shaven. There’s wrong with men wearing beards when it looks good on them. For most of human history, guys were hirsute. Looking “clean” was usually considered a woman’s look, since woman don’t have facial hair to the extent guys do. And that’s where guys are different.

I do shave my cheeks and chin and a Gilette Fusion is good enough to make me look presentable.

NormanF on March 9, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Shy Guy, I think the correct interpretation is not to remove the beard. In ancient cultures, shaving off a man’s beard was considered an insult. Orthodox Jewish men wear beards and that’s a habit has never changed even as the rest of the Western world has abandoned it.

NormanF on March 9, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    NormanF, close but no prize. Jewish law allows removal of the facial beard but specifically not with a razor blade.

    There are halachic opinions that some/many/all electric shavers are equivalent to blades.

    There are no halachic opinions that forbid the use of shaving powder to entirely remove the beard. It’s quite painful the first few times. Once was enough for me. :)

    Unlike today, if you look at student photos of 16+ year old Yeshiva students 50 years ago and beyond, whether in Israel, Europe, or the US, you’ll notice a complete absence of beards – nothing but baby faces. It used to be considered arrogant – above their stature – for a young unmarried yeshiva bachur to sport a beard, even a mustache in some places.

    Shy Guy on March 10, 2010 at 12:07 am

I’m still using a Braun electric razor I bought in 1990. However Braun no longer makes the fails and razor heads, have to buy cheap Chinese knockoffs.

Federale on March 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I have really sensitive skin, but I don’t feel the need to get anything more expensive than the Mach 3. But I often just get the Sensor 3 disposables, as those are real good too. Three blades seems a big plus, but all the other bells, whistles, and extra blades don’t seem worth it. When I don’t need a good shave, I often use two-blade disposables. Below two blades and it’s too much irritation. So, yeah, I think the Sensor 3 or Mach 3 are about as expensive as one should go. But it’s very important to use a good post-shave lotion. I like the post-shave lotions from Nivea and Nuetrogena and Clinique. That pretty much removes all the irritation and allows you to “go cheap” with two-blade disposables on days you don’t need a real good shave.

BTW, I know people are having trouble affording the expensive blades because they are one of the most shop-lifted items at grocery stores.

RobertM on April 30, 2010 at 12:18 am

Warren Buffet, who is an anus in many things but NOT in investing, has had Gillette in his portfolio for MANY years.

Occam's Tool on July 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Personally I prefer using a straight razor to normal shavers, and yes I am willing to pay a premium for it.

Andy on December 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm

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