Gillette Wants To Sell You A Fancy New Razor That Works With Older Blades

flexballThe Gillette business model is now a legend selling an item inexpensively or giving it away for free, then selling customers a more profitable item that they need to keep that item going. Think of razors and disposable blades, inkjet printers and cartridges, or free mobile phones tied to long service contracts. Now Gillette is changing its time-honored business model a little, and selling the FlexBall razor, which accepts a variety of blade cartridges.

Maybe it says a lot about how silly the blade arms race has been that critics consider it an innovation when a major razor brand introduces a product that’s backwards-compatible to an older type of razor sold by that same company.

Anyway, the razor hits stores next Wednesday. Nobody will be lining up at midnight to buy it. The design is innovative: it pivots on a roller ball, sort of like a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Maybe people will like that. Will they pay a premium price to give it a try? By focusing on the razor itself instead of more or less giving away the razor and focusing on the blades, Gillette is gambling here.

Maybe this is a first step toward unlocked, platform-agnostic razors that accept plastic blades from any other brand. Or maybe the big brands feel like they need something more advanced in order to compete with the Dollar Shave Clubs of the world: indeed, Gillette does have its own blade subscription service. Gillette’s personal-grooming brands aren’t doing well for the first time in years, and it isn’t just because beards have come back in style.

Why Gillette’s New Razor Is Good for Procter & Gamble [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
Gillette’s New Weapon in Razor Arms Race [Wall Street Journal]

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  1. RupturedDuck says:

    I still use a twin blade razor. I haven’t changed it in more than three decades (although I bought a new handle from Amazon two years ago). My blades come direct from the manufacturer, in bulk, at about thirty cents per blade. By carefully drying the blade and storing it in baby oil between uses I can get a month of clean, perfect shaves from each one. So for about forty bucks I have a ten year supply of blades.

    Gillette doesn’t like me.

  2. oomingmak says:

    In my opinion, the Mach 3 is still the best razor/blade system that Gillette ever created. It seems to be the apex of their technological advancements as all the “improvements” they’ve made since seem gimmicky and don’t provide any benefits to the shaving experience. I’m not surprised they still support it and each subsequent shaving system has helped bring the per blade cost down a bit.

    I wish companies like Gillette would push a little of their R&D towards the design of the shaving gel can. After a couple of weeks the top of the can looks like a foamy mess as it continues to leak gel long after dispensing. Somehow I suspect they’ll figure out a way to put 10 blades on a razor before fixing this irritating flaw in the can design.

  3. Airwave says:

    Did Gillette collaborate with Dyson for its design?