In the shot heard round the last remnant of beard-free men in the world, Gillette took a swipe at Dollar Shave Club using a patent as the bullet. Surprise, surprise! A patent being used as a weapon to beat down the competition.
Gillette? Despite my dependance on the Fusion (the men’s version, at that, but don’t tell Gloria Steinem) razor and blades, you disappoint. You’re a stalwart, a centuries-old American Icon. When an upstart challenged your delivery model and offered a product that may or may not actually be better than yours in a more convenient way, you came out swinging with a patent-bat rather than hunker down and focus on the real problem: disruption.
Yeah, I went there with the 2015 Word of the Year because the year’s almost over and I want to get a piece of that action.
The rub is over blades that have a coating on them, a patent for which was issued in 2004, that prevents the blades from getting dull as quickly. Now, I’m no razor mogul and I don’t even have an MBA, but I use razors and know that when one gets dull, I have to go buy more. Putting a coating on the end of a razor to make it last longer actually seems counter-productive to the whole “sell them the refill razors” philosphy, or am I missing something?
That notwithstanding, now Dollar Shave Club has to stop what it’s doing and fight a patent war. The idea on Gillette’s end is to slow DSC’s roll until their own “day late and a dollar (snicker) short” entry into the razor delivery club takes off.
“But here’s the rub: Gillette launched a subscription service last year that took direct aim at Dollar Shave Club and largely replicated its business model. While online retailers like Amazon and Target have offered subscriptions to Gillette’s disposable razors for years, the brand took a long time to launch its own product and lost considerable market share to rivals like Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s.”
So the 400 lb gorilla on the block got beat at its own game by an upstart and they don’t like it. Fair enough. No one likes a copycat. But you know what people like even less? A 400 lb gorilla that stamps its feet and holds its breath until it gets its way.
What I also don’t get is this: do the razors offered through the subscription service differ substantially from what I am buying in the store? Why couldn’t I just put a standing re-order in for the blades I’m already buying and have them delivered to me every X months? I’m failing to understand why Gillette couldn’t have done what DSC did, sooner and better.
DSC has Michael Dubin and Gillette has…I dunno. And that’s the issue. People love funny and viral and goofy CEOs who clown around hawking their product. Hipster doofuses, of which there are a veritable plethora these days, identify way more with those types of antics than they do with an old American company that is the same one their decidedly non-hipster doofus Dads used. Personality matters, folks.
No, I am not calling Gillette a troll, Paul. But they’re acting awfully trollish by going after the competition like this. As if we all can’t see what’s going on here, right?
C’mon, Gillette. You’re better than that.