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Trailblazing shaving: a long-awaited return to innovation for the razor segment?

By Lucy Whitehouse , 24-Apr-2014
Last updated the 24-Apr-2014 at 17:32 GMT

Gillette’s newest razor is set to ditch the segment’s traditional emphasis on cartridges (blades), and focus instead on revamping the handle, in a move which goes against some opinion that innovation in the segment is limited.

The new ‘ProGlide Flexball’ will not be co-launched with a specific cartridge, as has been customary for shaving devices to date, but will be compatible with previously launched blades from the P&G brand.

Instead, its innovation is found in the swiveling ball hinge, which allows additional movement of the blade.

Beards and brands

The upcoming launch seems to respond to recent comments by the founder of UK men’s grooming brand King of Shaves, Will King, who spoke to Cosmetics Design on the recent lack of innovation within the segment.

“Innovation is key. Embrace change as a constant, make simplicity your ultimate sophistication, and you’ll be on your way.  Don’t innovate?  Die.”  

Marketoonist, Tom Fishburne, is another industry expert to note that historically, innovation in the segment has been lacking - driven by copycatting, rather than novel ideas.

Tom Fishburne, Marketoonist.

P&G’s latest quarter results show its grooming and beauty divisions were overshadowed by a strong performance from the fabric and home care division: with the current fashion for beards lingering on in the West, this latest launch suggests the brand is mobilizing to inject life into its brands and the sluggish razor category more widely.

Whether consumers will respond well to the remodeled handle, or consider it just another razor fad, remains to be seen.

Cost-conscious consumers

Alongside lacking innovation, another recent point of concern for the segment has been a general consumer belief that the unit prices for disposable razors are too high; but this is not a concern Gillette’s ProGlide Flexball will address, coming in at $11.49 (non-battery) and $12.59 (battery-powered).

Consumers have been increasingly turning to cheaper options, including the ‘Dollar Shave Club’, which sends out low-cost razors each month by mail order. The Dollar Shave Club says it sells 5.4% of cartridges in the US, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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