Quite often we bloggers get accused of all kinds of ‘industry misdemeanours’, most notable breaking embargoes and pre-empting product release news. Sometimes we just can’t resist spilling the beans and sometimes we simply keep out ears to the ground and see what’s happening overseas, because much of the time what happens in other markets eventually happens here too.
So, it doesn’t take too much imagination to figure out that, having recently announced its launch in the US, Gillette will eventually launch its all-singing, all-dancing Fusion ProGlide razor in the UK. Billed as a significant advancement in shaving performance and comfort, it features re-engineered, finer blades, a unique Microcomb to guide hairs towards the blade, larger Lubrastrip, improved precision trimmer and a streamlined ‘Snowplow’ Comfort Guard to help maintain optimum contact with the skin. Judging by this pic it looks nice too.
Seemingly it’s been tested on over 30,000 men (Gillette are famous for their ‘human testing”) so I’m expecting great things. The razors will appear in the US at the beginning of the summer. As for over here? Watch this space.
We all know how much the beloved Daily Mail likes to champion a cause. And having thoroughly exhausted the debate on Wheelie bins the paper has now turned its guns on men’s number one grooming product – the humble razor. The company that has done most to outrage the paper’s sense of fair play (I know, don’t laugh) is Gillette. The thrust of the argument is that (shock of shocks) Gillette is making a huge profit on its Fusion razor and accompanying blades.
Earlier in the summer the paper claimed that the mark up on some shaving items was more than 4,000%. Seemingly, instead of keeping the costs down Gillette is forcing customers to pay for celebrity endorsement from the likes of Tiger Woods and Roger Federer instead. Blimey, what a surprise to discover that we’re not just paying for the raw materials themselves but for the advertising campaigns, the multi-million pound research that goes into creating the products and, to cap it all off, celebrities to endorse it too. I know, I was shocked too.
But not as shocked as Asda is it seems. The supermarket giant, jumping on the Mail’s bandwagon (and with absolutely no thought of shifting units or creating publicity you understand) are helping the British consumer out by slashing the price of their Gillette razors by up to 40%. Will King, the man behind Gillette rival King of Shaves and champion of the recession-hit man on the street, has waded in on the debate too, claiming his cheaper Azor razor is a much better deal for consumers (partly because of the very lack of the expensive research, ad campaign and celeb endorsement I suppose). Like Asda, he’s outraged that a company should make such a huge profit out of the average working man. Touching innit?
Dear readers, never have I heard such a bogus debate (or, if you prefer, such absolute bollocks) in all my life. So, there’s a huge mark-up on razor blades? Well, Gillette are the market leaders and they got there not just by creating a product that men keep buying because it works but because they spent money creating an identifiable, sexy brand. It’s what brands do. The consumer pays for this. We all know that, right? When I buy a £300 pair of Prada shoes am I under any illusion they cost a fraction of that price to make? When I buy a £35 bottle of fragrance advertised by a A-list celebrity am I so deluded I think it cost £33 to make and the endorsement came free? And why do I continually buy Kellogg’s cornflakes instead of as Asda’s own? Because, through bitter experience, I’ve discovered they taste better and sometimes you have do have to pay more for a quality product.
But it’s not just the ridiculousness of the argument that rattles me it’s the hypocrisy of those that spout off about it. Asda’s toiletries buyer, Graham Speak, for example, is quoted as saying: ‘Instead of lining the pockets of Federer, Henry and Woods, we think companies like Gillette should ditch their razorsharp pricing and put customers first, charging a fair price for an everyday product that doesn’t cost a lot to make.” So who the hell paid for Sharon ‘mum in a million’ Osbourne when she appeared in those Asda ads then? The tooth fairy?
Gordon Brown might think he has a monopoly on strategies to see us out of the recession but how about this as a rival to his car scrappage scheme? This weekend in Manchester (in the Arndale Centre to be exact) Gillette are doing a novel promo where they’ll happily swap grubby old razors for brand new Gillette Fusion jobbies. And all this for absolutely nowt , as they say in them parts. With any luck such schemes will be popping up all over the land this year. Watch this space.
According to my closest pals one of my least endearing qualities (other than my standoffishness and an unerring knack of saying ‘I told you so!’ when things go cataclysmically wrong) is my innate scepticism. I am the world’s worst doubting Thomas, from a long line of doubting Thomases, whose family name is (rather appropriately) Thomas.
I’m no less sceptical of all the claims made by grooming products (many of which have undergone ‘rigorous’ testing on five people in Switzerland/India/Stoke Poges).
So when Gillette launched a multi-blade razor onto the market many moons ago I was, to say the least, rather doubtful of its efficacy. In honesty, I thought it was just a cheap male marketing gimmick – you know, ‘bigger is better’, ‘more is…more’. Of course, that rather changed once I actually tried the product for myself.
Having sported something approximating a beard for several years I’m actually more of a stranger to razors than most, though I still have to use one shave my cheeks (yes, I’ve heard all the jokes thanks…) and having tried numerous ones I can truthfully say that more blades = better results.
But don’t take it from me. Last night on BBC Two’s Professor Regan’s…Health Spa Gillette’s multi-blade technology was put the test. The Prof herself is a bit annoying if you ask me (a bit like the interfering mum you dread) but the insight into what goes on at Gillette’s Technology Centre in Reading was fascinating. The centre itself is legendary (a bit like the mysterious Area 61 in Nevada but without the aliens and spaceships. Perhaps.) and it’s a treat to see what goes on inside. And there were some wonderful glimpses of ‘human testing’. So if you’ve always wanted to know why five blades are better than one have a look at this.