“Best A Man Can Get”
Company – Gillette
Founder – King Camp Gillette
Gillette is the premier producer of safety razors both for men & women along with other products for personal care. The name ‘Gillette’ is the surname of King Camp Gillette, credited to be the founder of the current business model of the blade & razor industry.
He popularized the concept of manufacturing thin, stamped razor blades made from cheap steel to sell along with “Gillette Razors”, the name of his initial product launched in the city of Boston, Massachusetts USA. Steven Porter, a machinist who worked with Mr. Gillette, made the first working model of the safety razor based on his drawings. Emery Nickerson, a partner with Mr. Gillette, improved on the original design & provided better support for the thin double-edged blades.
How It Started
In September 28th, 1901 King Camp Gillette founded his own company initially named “American Safety Razor Company” which was subsequently changed to “Gillette Safety Razor Company” in July 1902.
Before becoming a successful business entrepreneur, Mr. K.C. Gillette worked as a salesperson for Crown Cork & Seal Company. During his time there, he saw that the bottle caps with the cork seal sold by him were discarded after use. This practice germinated the idea in his mind of selling cheap products which can be reused before being thrown away.
During those times, straight-backed forged razors were popular for shaving, but their sharpness went after a few uses & a leather piece known as ‘strop’ were used to re-sharpen them. But the cheaper razors used by the common men went bad after some time anyway.
Mr. Gillette envisioned a huge business opportunity in this material of regular use & formulated his design of thin, sharp & stamped blades to be used with safety razors. Even though these designs were in use even then, the products used forged blades. Mr. Gillette’s innovation was thinking up of the idea of manufacturing cheap steel razors blades which can be discarded after use. Thus came into being, the famous “Gillette Razors” which started retailing in 1903 for five dollars.
Path to Success
Even though the initial pricing was expensive, people started buying millions of Gillette safety razor model by the end of the decade. The reusable steel blade served as a viable alternative for the forged razors in use during the times. Coupled with some good marketing strategies & advertising, the initial sales figures were multiplied manifold within a few years.
Mr. Gillette had patented his original razorblade design which ran out in 1920. Anticipating this change, the company introduced its new & improved razor design. The handle was streamlined and opening and closing parts were added for better blade positioning & more precise shaves.
Thus started the company’s journey of constant innovation & improvement, which has been its main motto throughout its rich 117 years history. Mr. Gillette eventually sold his company to a partner director, John Joyce but his name remained with the brand.
The next eminent name in its history is Mr. Colman M. Mockler, the CEO of the company from 1975 to 1991, during which it survived no less than three separate takeover attempts. Eventually, Gillette was merged with the global consumer giant conglomerate, Ms. Procter & Gamble in 2005. The original company’s research & manufacturing units are still in existence in Boston & maintained as functioning locations by the parent company.
Gillette has essentially no competition in its shaving product line of razors & has over 70% market share all over the world. However, there is always constant endeavor by the management to be innovative & offer more precise & accurate shaving instruments to the general public. Gillette’s competition has often been with itself, the case of its “Mach 3”range & “Fusion 5” being one especially interesting.
Since its launch in 2005, Gillette has been positioning the five-bladed Fusion model being superior the three-bladed Mach ones in all respect. There is even sustained advertising by the company to this effect which educates the user about the benefits of the Fusion over Mach. This effort has been motivated solely to shift its existing Mach users towards the newer model with higher pricing & better return on investments for the company.
The company has always excelled in its leadership & advertising innovations, which started with Ms. Townsend & Hunt, the company which took care of its initial marketing, sales & distribution, eventually bought by Gillette in 1906.
Marketing Campaigns & Strategies
Gillette’ famous tagline “the best a man can get” was first launched in an advertisement aired for the first time during the Superbowl event in 1989. Endorsed by many famous sporting personalities like Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Thierry Henry, and Derek Jeter among others, the company has major sponsorship deals with Major League Baseball, the England National Rugby Team & the Four Nations Rugby League. In Foxborough, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, the Gillette Stadium is the home base for New England Patriots football team of the National Football League.
The attributes discussed below may be attributed as the driving force behind continued success of Gillette as a world-famous consumer brand leader.
Focus on Profitability
Gillette blades cost a fraction of the retail price due to its huge number of selling units all over the world. Often, the margins are as high as 3000% on a single product, underlining the company’s constant efforts towards gaining maximum profits from its dominant market share.
Positive Product Placement
The company focuses on maximum returns from its investments and ensures that its newer products are better than the older ones both in terms of usability & production-to-selling margins.
Driving Consumer Usage
Gillette does not rest on its laurels & enjoy its huge revenues from the dominant market share. Rather, there is a constant endeavor to increase the usability of its products through innovation & education of its consumers.
Continuous Brand Extension
The dominant market share also enables Gillette to foray into related personal care markets. It has made substantial gains in the shaving cream category with significant presence in the deodorant & shampoo products also.
To conclude, the worldwide popularity of the Gillette brand may be attributed to the successful amalgamation of several factors & decades of sustained business efforts. The product idea & design of Mr. K. C. Gillette was innovative & a sure-shot business profit, his following directors & owners also worked tirelessly with vision & innovation to make its products & brand a worldwide success. Currently, the brand valuation of Gillette stands at 17.1 billion dollars, with over 750 million people using its products.