Synopsis: Gillette has long been known for innovation in both product development and marketing strategy. In the highly competitive, but mature, razor and blade market, Gillette holds a commanding worldwide market share. The peak of its innovation occurred in 2006 with the introduction of the Fusion 5-bladed razor. Today, innovation in razors and blades is thwarted by a lack of new technology and increasing consumer reluctance to pay for the “latest and greatest” in shaving technology. Gillette must decide how to put the razor wars behind them and maintain or increase its share of the global razor market.
Themes: Product leadership, product innovation, pricing strategy, integrated marketing communication, segmentation, competition,
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By offering “consumers high-quality shaving products that would satisfy basic grooming needs at a fair price,”Gillette effectively captured more than half of the entire razor and blades market across the globe. In fact, in the 1920s Gillette said the following of his razor product:“There is no other article for individual use so universally known or widely distributed. In my travels, I have found it in the most northern town in Norway and in the heart of the Sahara Desert.”
Gillette’s success in this market carried the company through economic droughts in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as allowed it to weather the storm brought on by World War II. Encouraged by the successful development of his razor products, Gillette felt inclined to challenge his entrepreneurial spirit with the acquisition of two unrelated ventures: the Toni Company, maker of do-it-yourself home permanent-wave kits, and the Paper Mate Pen company, producer of retractable, refillable ballpoint pens. Although seemingly profit-able at first, both acquisitions proved to be unsuccessful as sales and revenue waned due to declining demand and innovative competitors, such as Bic’s low-priced disposable (nonrefillable) pens from France. As a result, Gillette’s unblemished track record for success became tarnished as net profits slumped to $1.33 per share in 1964.
Despite this fact, Gillette reigned as a