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Sustainability and the Gillette test

I’ve often thought, as I’ve watched those razor ads evolve over the last twenty years, of where they will end up.

First it was one blade, then a blade and a moisturising strip. Then two blades, two and a strip, then three, plus the eternal strip, and then four.

Four blades and a moisturising strip.

“Where next?” I’ve been joking with friends? Five blades, six?

How many more can go blunt as quickly as two did?

What else can you add alongside the strip?

Of course, with three blades came the vibrating handle. This was of course, utter nonsense. It just made you more likely to cut yourself.

So where next for Gillette and the four bladed, sports-celebrity endorsed, vibrating, moisturising razor with heads so expensive they sit behind the counter?

Will it be the sustainable razor? What might that look like? I have been wondering.

Peter Knight, a columnist for Ethical Corporation, gave me pause for thought recently.

He bought a razor sharpener.

Peter notes that:

“My $9.99 model is super high-tech and needs a battery. You insert the razor into its mouth, press a button and in five second the blades are sharp. This is highly disruptive to the business model of Gillette et al. Think of the drop in revenue if every shaver was to follow my lead and get, say, twice as many shaves from their multiple blades. Think of the reduction of waste.”

What a brilliant idea. For sustainable shave marketing to take hold, Gillette will surely need to figure out how to sell this device to us, and still make a hefty profit, keeping margins up, growth powering ahead and investors happy.

Is that possible? I don’t know. It might not be. Can shaving be a service industry again? Hmm.

But shaving may be the acid test for consumer marketing, waste and sustainability, one day.

How silly can the marketing blurb get?

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