Exclusive: King of Shaves makes shaving even smoother with their new Hyperglide razor

HYPERGLIDEIt’s unusual for me to lose my composure when introduced to a new grooming product. My usual press launch poker face (mastered over the years in order not to offend PRs when I am miserably underwhelmed) rarely fails me. But it did several months back when Will King, founder of King of Shaves, gave me a sneak preview of his new Hypergilde razor.

Dipping the head of the razor into a glass of water he asked me to try it out on my actual face (the bits that aren’t bearded anyway). Usually, I’m reluctant to do this, especially when sitting in a crowded restaurant, but since I was in a good mood I thought I’d comply with his request. Rather embarrassingly, when I placed the cartridge against my face I let out an audible gasp  – something Will sorely regrets not capturing on his smartphone. The reason for this involuntary emotional outburst lies in the fact that the Hyperglide feels totally different to any other razor when it makes contact with your skin.

This is because it features a high-tech, ultra-thin polymer that’s chemically-bound to the razor cartridge and which creates a layer of lubrication delivering friction levels even lower than that of ice or Teflon. It’s difficult to describe how this actually feels but imagine an ‘intimate lubricant’ applied to your face and you kind of get the picture.

Hyperglide-Handle-Holder-v1Other razors have toyed with lubricants, of course, but what makes this one so special is that, because it’s chemically bonded to the razor, it doesn’t leave a residue, peel off or snag. The result is a razor that doesn’t just deliver a great shave but one that feels genuinely pleasant to have against the skin.

What’s more, the coating means that, if you were stuck, you could probably shave without a foam, cream or gel  (all you’d need is some water) though obviously using a shave prep is always the best idea. As an extra bonus the razor and blade pack comes with a nifty little transparent holder that you can stick onto your bathroom wall or mirror so your razor’s always at hand.

As you can tell, I was genuinely excited when I fist tried the Hyperglide for myself (and I am notoriously hard to impress) so huge respect to Will for delivering a clever, innovative and fun product, as well as one that delivers a great shave.

Hyperglide-Handle-Front-v1The King of Shaves Hypergilde launches on 16th January. For more info go to shave.com

King Of Shaves gets behind Decembeard

Basic CMYKAs I pointed out in my recent Movember post, few charities can survive without the oxygen of publicity. And when you’re a charity like Beating Bowel Cancer, who raise awareness about bowel cancer and offer support and advice for those affected by it, every bit of publicity helps – especially when you’ve a fundraising event like Decembeard to promote.

The idea behind Decembeard is simple: you register, you grow a beard for a month and raise money for a great cause in the process. This year’s aim is to raise £145,000 and to help the charity achieve that King of Shaves have come on board as a supporting partner, encouraged it seems by my own small involvement in providing some grooming advice (see KoS founder Will King’s blog on his reasons for getting involved here).

14141955AAnyway, since beards need a little TLC to look their best grabbing yourself a trimmer is a great idea, which is where King of Shaves comes in. To help ensure fantastic-looking facial hair (and help the cause) they will be donating 10% from sales of their Prostyle King of Beards eGrooming range at kingofshavesdirect.com and will be running special competitions too. More than that, though, they’ll be promoting Decembeard, giving it some of that all-important publicity I was talking about.

So, if you haven’t already registered do get on board. There are few ways to do something positive for charity that are quite as simple as growing a little facial hair but, equally, few that can make such a huge impact on people’s lives. So go on – grow one!

To more information and to register for Decembeard click here.

Want to slash your shaving bills? Will King’s “King of Shaves SUB” might be the answer

With Britain in a double-dip recession and belts tightening across the land, value-for-money grooming has never been more important. I talked to King of Shaves supremo Will King about his new initiative, King of Shaves SUB, which aims to help men everywhere ‘save while they shave’. 

GG: I think we’re all agreed that times are hard Will. In what ways do you think the current economic climate has affected the way men view shaving?

WK: The past seven or so years, since metrosexuality died a death in 2005, have been rather intriguing.  We’ve had A) a global economic meltdown since 2007 and B) a resurgence in men sporting stubble and/or facial hair – beards – in a big way.

I reckon this growth – to excuse the pun – has been down to a couple of factors, the cues taken from Hollywood A-Listers – the Brad Pitt’s, the George Clooney’s and from a sporting perspective, the David Beckham – who’ve adopted a ‘roughness’ to their approach, rather than a ‘smoothness’.  This, alongside a more relaxed approach to work (not necessarily clean shaven, suited and booted) has for sure driven growth in stubble.

In addition, there is a view that when things get tough – men get tough – and you look maybe tougher with a beard, designer stubble – a little more ‘caveman’ (with a small c). Fight or Flight?  Fight.  Right now however, I’m seeing more A-Listers (eg Ashton Kutcher in the new Two and a Half Men series clean shaven, and more celebrities clean shaven.  These things go in cycles, I think smooth is starting to come back – but will only really get traction when the world is in a happier place.  Has it affected sales of razors & blades – yes – I think it has – looking at the negligible growth of brands in this space…

GG: Do you think that the resurgence of the beard has been a direct reaction to the price of blades? 

WK: Maybe.  I don’t think so though – I just think that men are relaxed being a little stubblier, or have a nicely groomed beard right now.  Blades, for sure ARE expensive – hence us just launching our King of Shaves SUB – but I’m not sure people are growing beards to put two fingers up at razor & blade companies.

GG: Do you think that many companies treat their consumers with cavalier indifference, especially in these difficult times?

WK: I think that’s maybe a bit harsh.  We live in a world that is changing extremely fast right now, with new ways to do things coming down the track all the time, for example Twitter this time a couple of years ago was pretty widely derided.  It’s a great way for companies, brands to connect with their purchasing consumer – yet it’s only recently they’ve started taking to it to keep close to their customer.

Back in the day, it was all about ‘Brand Broadcast’ but now it’s about ‘Digital Dialogue’ and by the nature of dialogue, larger companies find it hard to handle – and more than a little scary. I’m pleased to be a ‘CEO who Tweets’ – as it offers people a way to directly chat with me – maybe makes the face of our brand a little more human. Some like how I go about things, some don’t.

What does annoy me though is the ‘assumption’ that your consumer will always stick with you, irrespective of what you do…  For example, a Gillette Sensor razor blade in 1992 cost 41p per blade.  Now a Fusion ProGlide Power Blade costs £3.50.  You’re not telling me that’s down to inflation, or adding three more strips of stainless steel?  If you take people for fools, then one day – you end up the foolish one.

GG: What was the inspiration behind your latest venture King of Shaves SUB?

WK: I’m sure everyone who reads this has seen the awesome video by US start-up Dollar Shave Club.  To say I’m ‘well jel’ of how they did it, and the global traction they got, let alone calling out all that’s wrong in the razor, blade world and more – would be understating it.

However, they are selling generic, private label razors on a subscription model, using a 1970’s ‘Trac 2’ equivalent as a loss leader.  So, I knew as soon as I saw the video, we HAD to respond – and fast – to open up a direct to consumer sales channel – a digital & commercial dialogue – with our customers, and simply use the ‘contact lens direct’ model, sending an Azor, Azor 5 or Azor S through the post, with 3 cartrdiges, for between £3-4/month.

Because we were able to strip out the RRP  – Retail Ready Packaging, and streamline the ordering/fulfilment cycle – we are able to make a margin (despite Royal Mail’s best efforts) on sending through your razor SUB each month.

GG: And what’s in it for you?

WK:  Well, It’s been really great  because of how we’re able to (once again) connect directly with our customers.  After all, we’re all – or most of us – on a social network these days – we increasingly subscribe to connectivity and conversation, and our King of Shaves SUB is a much about that, as it is delivering the King of Shaves each and every morning.  It’s all about the UX – User Experience – these days. As Apple well know…

GG: So how does it work? 

WK: Visit KingofShavesSUB.com, select your razor (Azor 4, £3/pcm for example), fill out the easy-to-fill-out form, enter your debit card details (or PayPal) and – ta da – you’re done.  You can cancel after 30 days – the SUB lasts for 24 months – and we simply send the King of Shaves through to you nice and easy, in a lovely metallic blue envelope with a little card from me!

GG: Anything else in the pipeline?

WK: We’re looking at including our shaving oils in the next few weeks – these are going through transit trials right now, and we’ve launche our latest Azor S for Women on the site too.  So, you to can be a ‘Money S(h)aving Expert’ – as is Martin Lewis, who gave us a great plug on Lorraine on ITV this morning!  Oh, and we also picked up coverage on Forbes.com   Not bad for a brand that sells shaving stuff, eh?

For more info about King of Shaves SUB click here.

architect of cuts David Cameron likes the King of Shaves Azor razor!

It’s not always easy to think of something entertaining to write about on your blog but whenever the scourge of writer’s block strikes I simply check out what King of Shaves founder Will King is up to on Twitter and I am immediately inspired to commit fingertips to keypad.

Today he was  hobnobbing with our glorious leaders at the launch of  Start Up Britain, a private-sector led initiative aimed at helping people set up businesses  – one backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne. He was also busy garnering some rather polarising razor endorsements. Ignoring the inherent (and well-known) dangers of dragging politics into marketing, Will excitedly tweeted:

“I have it on “impeccable authority” that British Prime Minister David Cameron a fan of our King of Shaves Azor 5. Yayyy! Eat that, Gillette!”

As smug as this Tweet sounds ( it’s very much from the “your mum stinks and never washes her curtain nets!” school of knocking) it’s an endoresment that’s also very much a mixed blessing in my book,  in the same way that having a clean-cut Tiger woods endorse your razor only to find out he’s a serial wick-dipper might be.

After all, let’s not forget that David Cameron leads a coalition government because he was unable to seal the deal with the majority of the British electorate and has an approval rating in Scotland of -39%. Nor that he is presiding over the most hated public sector cuts for a generation.  Not content by alienating half his customers, though, Will clearly thought he’d go for the rest of them by roping in even less likeable George Osborne (earlier this month 45% of people said they were dissatisfied with his performance), tweeting:

“Also gave George Osbourne a King of Shaves Azor & had a quick chat as he left #startupbritain. Least he won’t worry about cuts with it ;)”

It’s a cute joke, I  know, but (if you’ll excuse the pun) this kind of comment is, at best, a double edged sword. The prime minister and chancellor are, after all, accused on a daily basis of “cutting too fast and too deep” of “making uneccessary cuts” and generally wielding the axe indiscriminately. In fact, it’s a government defined by cuts.

Given this obvious fact it you do have to ask yourself whether you’d want your razor company to be associated with the perpetrators. If nothing else, it does rather leave you exposed to some unwanted ribbing. As I myself pointed out on Twitter when I heard the news: “David Cameron is fan of King of Shaves Azor 5 razor apparently. Well, he is known for cutting too fast and too deep…” And trust me, mine wasn’t the only quip in this vein.

Still, it could have been much, much worse. Imagine the fallout if Nick Clegg had endorsed it.

Insider interview: ‘Mr Azor’, King of Shaves head honcho Will King

King of Shaves Supremo Will King is a man on a mission – he wants to shake up the razor market forever. And to a degree the launch of the bendy Azor razor has done that – triggering, if not quite the tectonic shift in the market promised, then debate about the cost of shaving and how razors are marketed at least.

And he truly loves his products. In fact, he’s so good at bigging them up that I truly believe that had he been our Prime Minister he’d have talked the country out of recession about eight months  ago.

And today he has something new to talk about: the brand new Azor M razor –  a weightier, deluxe, hybrid metal alloy version of the Azor and Azor S. I caught up with him to find out a little more about the Azor M, his views on the shaving market and the impact of social media on male grooming.  Oh, and just for fun, what fragrances he likes to wear too.

GG: The original Azor launched 2008. What so you think is the single biggest change it’s made to the wet razor market in the UK?

WK: I introduced genuine competition in a monopoly (sorry, cosy duopoly) to the consumer’s advantage.

GG: Best shaving tip?

WK: Shave in the shower.

GG: What are your favourite three men’s fragrances and why?
WK: Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme. Directional, classic, cool – makes me feel good. Thierry Mugler A*Men. Sexy, original, sensual. Ted Baker Skinwear. Fresh, uplifting & I headed up its design!

GG: What effect has the internet had on male grooming in the last few years?

WK: It’s been absolutely huge. Men’s magazines were big enough in the 90’s, but now you can pretty much get any knowledge you need about ‘shaving great, smelling great, styling great, looking great’ online. Word of mouth has become word of mouse; ‘hard to get hold of’ brands can be delivered to your home, and with all the forums/blog posts/bulletin boards, you’re spoilt for choice for knowledge, information and advice.

GG: You’re a prolific blogger and user of user of social media. How important is that to you personally and to the King of Shaves brand as a whole?

WK: It’s critical. We’ve shifted from an era of ‘brand broadcast’ (via TV advertising) to ‘digital dialogue’ (consumers interacting and being interacted with). I’ve blogged since 2001, watched twitter grow from 2006, been on facebook for years. I don’t use the social media much personally (ie i’m actually quite private) from from a brandcomms perspective, I’m able to imbue KoS with a genuine personality, and serve up content I hope people enjoy reading and acting on, responding to.

GG: I once called you ‘The Simon Cowell of Social Media’ in one of my blogs. What do you say to that accusation?
WK: Flattered. OMG! LOL.

GG: The new Azor M is quite different from it’s predecessors. Describe it in one word.

WK: Future.

GG: If you could have any celebrity ambassador for Azor M who would it be?
WK: Obama

GG: Desert island grooming product?
WK: SPF30 Lancaster sun tan cream…

GG: Finally, what kind of technology will we be using to shave with in 20 years time? Or will we still be using blades?
WK: Watch out for the NanoRazor. Not 4 blades, but 4,000,000 individual stubble slicers working away and self sharpening in between shaves. Don’t laugh.

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Gillette vs King Of Shaves: war of the words

The other day an absolutely riveting little contretemps erupted on Twitter between Will King, King of Shaves supremo and a member of staff from Porter Novelli, a company that represents arch-rival Gillette. A wonderful Twitter bitchfest (who says men aren’t catty?) it was an example of macho posturing and feather fluffing at its absolute best and an example of how febrile the current ‘Blade Wars’ have become of late.

Will King, I suspect, rather fancies himself as leader of The Rebel Alliance squaring up to Gillette’s evil Empire (his Azor razor being a X-Wing fighter pitted against Gillette’s mighty Tie Fighter Fusion). And in typical insurgent fashion, the King of Shaves founder  isn’t one to miss an opportunity to take a pop at his opponent. This particular digital duel (how terribly modern?) ensued after the Thierry Henry handball debacle, with King tweeting:

@kingofshaves Gillette stick with Henry.  Many others not sticking with Gillette, but going to King of Shaves, Azor. Good!

Provoked by such shocking schadenfreude the person from Porter Novelli (who I suspect innocently thought he was sticking up for one of his clients) chipped in with …

@charliedm Well done for turning the misfortune and misery of as entire nation into a publicity drive. That’s not at all cheap”.

Now, I must say, I’m on the side of the Empire here. As someone who’s on Twitter myself and who follows Will’s tweets religiously I have to admit he is rather provocative. In fact, he’s like the Simon Cowell of Social Media – annoying beyond belief but utterly compulsive at the same time. Not even Katie Price can top him when it comes to blatant opportunism and self-promotion. But then, I don’t suppose you get where he has by hiding your light under a bushel (or your blade under a shaving brush) and as I said, it’s so shameless you can’t help but love it. In fact, of all the people I follow he’s one of my favourites. But I digress… back on the frontline, the war of words was escalating ….

@kingofshaves “Don’t Porter Novelli look after Gillette’s PR…?”

@charliedm “It’s great for the kind of razor you might get in a Christmas cracker…

Sorry, but I did laugh at this. It must have stung Will, too, because….

@kingofshaves “Um, you would say that given you handle Gillette’s PR. The King of Shaves Azor is a GREAT razor

All credit to Will here – to bitch and product place at the same time is no mean feat.

@kingofshaves “Surprised that as chief strategist you make such a negative, public comment. wait until you see our october sales – bit worried?

Now, with all due respect this is a wee bit naughty of Will given that he could probably teach The Republican Party a thing or two about negative campaigning (and even they’d be coy about some of his tactics). Anyway, clearly offended, The Empire struck back with this….

@charliedm “Does a lion find a dormouse worrying? Anyway, this isn’t work – this is jousting”

Good jibe but I know Will and  there’s nothing he likes more than the David and Goliath/Tortoise and Hare/Jordan and Jodie Marsh comparison so this was a red rag to a bull. In fact, at this point things had got so silly I was seriously expecting “Well, your mum stinks!” to be used as a line of attack. But no, a business history lesson was lobbed in to the battlefield and a gauntlet thrown down…

@kingofshaves “BA used to think that way. And learned the hard way. Joust away, my friend”.

@charliedm “Interesting. That’s just the kind of thing XL Airways used to say…”

As always happens in public brawls, it was now time for some annoying busy body to chip in with their two penneth worth …

@shedmenshealth  Playground bitching on twitter? :o/ Charlie,consumers can read!  You should know better in PR. Will, stay strong fella!

Then it was time for the obligatory voyeur…

@peterdean1 “*enjoying* @kingofshaves tweet jousting with Gillette PR’s > @charliedm.

Sensing that they were now being watched by a baying crowd (or perhaps just realising that they had work to do) both parties withdrew from the fight, with the poor fella from Porter Novelli probably wishing  he’d have Tweeted about I’m a Celebrity instead, attemped to diffuse the situation by saying he thought they were all just having a bit of fun (which is a bit like Darth Vader saying he only thought The Death Star would cause minor damage).  But that’s just as well really because who knows what might have been said in the heat of the moment?

So what happened next? Well, later on the MD of Porter Novelli, issued an apology to King (which was duly Tweeted of course) stating that criticising the competitor’s products was in violation of  their company’s Social Media policies and was the agency’s – not the client’s – responsibility. In other words it was an apology to Gillette as much as it was to King of Shaves.

You may see this as a victory for King. Personally I do not. At least Porter Novelli explicitly oppose rival-knocking. The whole King of Shaves Azor campaign, on the other hand, has been based upon it. I’m not judging the merits of negative campaigning (it’s a staple technique in politics after all and is a strategy that has so far worked in increasing the Azor’s market share) nor am I going to come out and say who was right and who was wrong in the row over razors.

What I will do though, is draw everyone’s attention to the obvious dangers of such public spats (seemingly the whole incident will be immortalized as part of Porter Novelli Social Media training now). It’s all too easy to get carried away when you’re tweeting and to forget that rowing with someone on Twitter is the equivalent of having a slanging match in the street. That’s all very well if you’re Gail and Eileen from Corrie but just isn’t dignified if you’re professional, responsible grown-up men. Frankly, nobody comes out a winner. So come on guys – from now on play nice, okay? If you don’t I’m gonna send my friend Boba Fett round to kick  your butts.

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Storm in a shaving mug – Asda slashes Gillette prices

Guess what? These people get paid to endorse Gillette!
Guess what? These people get paid to endorse Gillette!

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?

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