First of all, I will admit it. I was swayed by their viral ad and took an instant liking to Dollar Shave Club. The company is a classic David and Goliath marketing case, using guile, charm and technology to disrupt a space that has funded some of the most expensive ad campaigns in history.
“Do you really need a razor with a flashlight, a backscratcher, a vibrating handle, and ten blades? Your handsome ass grandfather had one blade -and polio,” snarked co-founder and CEO Michael Dubin in the ad that has now been seen more than 16-million times on YouTube.
First of all, no I don’t need all those things. The feature creep that saw Gillette literally become an Onion punchline has become tiresome. I suspect that many, like me, feel that the Sensor Excel did a perfectly fine job, even it didn’t vibrate and lacked one or two blades. I am also an admitted slave to the convenience offered by internet shopping. I order contact lenses, clothing, batteries, cables, golf balls, games, and a whole host of other things online and love it. If you can’t find my house when you’re in my neighborhood just follow the brown truck. Buying razor blades online was a natural for me.
Dollar Shave Club Review
Dollar Shave Club’s claim is that they offer a consistently better shave because you are shaving with a fresher blade more often. In Canada, the company will send you four or five blades per month depending on your preference. The “Select”, which has two blades and an aloe vera strip costs $3.50 per month for five blades, shipping and handling included. The “4X” has four blades and includes four cartridges per month for $6.95. Finally, “The Executive” has six blades and an edge trimmer and also ships four blades, but costs $9.50 a month. “The final frontier; it’s like a personal assistant for your face,” says the company’s trademark waggish ad copy.
The first thing you may notice about Dollar Shave Club Canada, which launched in November of 2012 a little more than a year after the company was founded, is that prices are higher than they are in the U.S. That, of course, is no surprise to anyone who lives here, but there may be some sticker shock if you are expecting to pay “about” a dollar a month. Once you get over that, the service is undeniably cheap. In my neighbourhood, a package of eight Gillette Fusion Blades sells for $29.99. A handle and two cartridges is another $15.99, bringing you to a grand total of more than $50 for a handle and 10 blades, after tax.
One reason I suspect Dollar Shave Club has become successful is that razor blades in stores have become so expensive that they are often protected in locked and alarmed cabinets. Getting an employee over to unlock it always seemed an excessive and unnecessary chore to me.
“So are our blades any good? No they’re f***ing great,” deadpans Dubin in the ad. So, are they? I will say this: Dollar Shave Club blades are better than any I have ever tried, with the exception of Gillette’s stable of products. I ordered the “4x” about three months ago and will continue to do so.
The blade arrives in minimalist brown paper packaging. It’s a sharp white with black accents, and vaguely resembles a Storm Trooper. The razor feels high quality, but not quite as solid state as the Mach 3 Turbo or Fusion. The first thing you will notice if switching from Gillette is that the head pivots more. It takes some getting used to, but after two or three times I had mastered the feel. In tricky spots such as directly under the middle of my nose I have to go back with my finger on top of the blade to add pressure to get the job done. If I did not have a battery powered ear and nose hair trimmer I might miss the edger, but I don’t.
The other thing you will notice about Dollar Shave Club is that you will feel you are throwing out perfectly good blades. By the time my second month’s supply arrived I had yet to use my third blade from the previous month. The aloe strip was still a bright orange. In our household, we found a solution to this. My wife found the Dollar Shave Club blade superior to any she was using, so we ordered another handle for a few bucks and now share the blades. If we had any concerns about the value of the service, which we didn’t, they were put to rest by our self created half-price deal. There is a Dollar Shave Club for Women service, but with this arrangement it was unnecessary for us.
Is Dollar Shave Club the Netflix to Gillette’s Blockbuster? That might be going a bit too far. But the company recently added a $12-million Series B round to the nearly $11-million it had previously raised and is expanding into new categories, such as the recently launched One Wipe Charlies; butt wipes that sell for four dollars for a pack of forty. (That video has more than 2.5-million views on YouTube). The company now has more than two-million subscribers.
Founded in 2011 by Michael Dubin and Mark Levine, Venice California-based Dollar Shave Club received 12,000 orders within the first 48 hours its viral ad ran.
The company expanded to a second product; a pre-shave lubricant called Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter in April of 2013. In June of that same year, it launched a line of wet wipes called One Wipe Charlies. And in March of this year, it announced it would expand into a line of hair care products.
I believe Dollar Shave Club has disrupted the razor business enough that it will either be co-opted or bought out by Gillette. Don’t think so? Then consider the new Gillette Subscription Service (Gillette Shave Club Canada?), which will mail you blades for “about $1 a week”.