The American shaving male is proving that five blades are no barrier to growth in sales of razors, with Gillette’s new Fusion product grabbing 55 per cent of new razor purchases only four weeks after launch.
Gillette’s plans to add a fifth blade to razors were met with scepticism when they were unveiled last year.
But Gillette insisted that men were ready for five blades – and were willing to pay a premium for them as consumers increasingly “traded up” to better-performing consumer products.
Food and consumer goods companies are scrambling to revamp basic products to appeal to such higher-paying customers.
Clorox, a maker of bathroom cleaners, has produced a new type of plastic rubbish bag that it claims does not split. Unilever sells frozen, ready-made pasta dinners for two under its Bertolli brand that can be cooked in less than 10 minutes.
Gillette has spent millions of dollars on the launch, its most ambitious yet. It claims that 70 per cent of its customers who stock Gillette razors have committed to retail displays that will remain up for 3-6 months.
Fusion and a battery-powered, vibrating razor version called Fusion Power, are priced at a 30 per cent premium to Mach3, a three-blade product that cost 50 per cent more than its predecessor.
Data from Information Resources Inc, a consumer researcher, show that both Fusion products together accounted for over half of all purchases of complete new razor sets in the four weeks to February 19.
Gillette expects Fusion to be a $1bn brand within three years. Mach3 has generated retail sales since launch in 1998 of $16bn – equivalent to the entire gross domestic product of Uruguay.
Not to be outdone, rival razor maker Schick, owned by Energizer, will next month launch a new three-bladed razor for women, with the blades embedded in a “skin softening” strip containing aloe, cocoa butter and vitamin E.
Replacement blades will cost $2.29 - double the current product.