Gillette Lowers Prices By 20%, Hopes Customers Come Back

Image courtesy of Kevin Dooley

The razor brand Gillette wants its market share back. The company, part of the Procter & Gamble consumer goods conglomerate, isn’t fighting years of falling sales by adding blades and features to its razors for once. It’s cutting prices by as much as 20%.

The problem, The Wall Street Journal reports today, is that might not be enough to win their customers back. The data tracking firm Euromonitor says that Gillette had about 54% of the U.S. market for razors last year, down from 70% in 2010.

P&G says that its own numbers are less dismal, but doesn’t disagree that its sales are down. Its sales have fallen every year for the last six years, actually. They can’t even blame Dollar Shave Club (now owned by competing consumer goods conglomerate Unilever) for that decline: They only started selling razor subscriptions online five years ago.

One big problem with Gillette’s arms race is that the company is only ever advertising its newest, priciest products — failing to remind people that not ever razor it sells has 72 blades and a mini speaker that plays ego-boosting affirmations while you shave.

“We need to do a better job of telling guys we are available for them at a multitude of price points,” a spokeswoman for the Gillette brand told the WSJ.

In an effort to re-associate the Gillette brand with affordability, it will cut prices across its entire line by up to 20%, averaging 12% across the whole brand.

At this point, that might not be enough. An endcap display of startup brand Harry’s razors in Target stores appealed to customers so much that soon the brand took over half of the retailer’s razor sales. That’s sure to end when the in-store promotion does, but it’s clear that consumers are open to something different and cheaper.

One of the co-founders of Harry’s, Jeffrey Raider, told the WSJ that he thinks that his company can stay competitive with Gillette even if its deep-pocketed competitor lowers its prices.

“[T]here is significant pent-up frustration among guys that Gillette has been methodically overcharging them for decades,” he observes. Plus, they can order refills for that Harry’s razor that they bought at Target without having to go to a store!

Remember that what Gillette really could do is make a durable ceramic blade that lasts longer than a week, but that doesn’t fit in its business model. You don’t see Schick, Harry’s, Dollar Shave Club, or store brands selling blades that last for a year, either, though.

Gillette is still looking for ways to innovate and sell razors with something that its competitors don’t yet have. The company filed a patent last month for a battery-powered razor that includes a fine heating element.