Feb 8, 2006

death by a thousand cuts

It's timely that Businessweek had a tiny blurb on Gillette this month. The 'sidebar' focused on Gillette 'innovation' over the last century. Here's the data they show (note it is not inflation adjusted):

Original Safety Razor
Year: 1903
Description: Two sided blade
Slogan: "Will hold its edge for 20 or 30 shaves"
Cost of one blade: $0.05

Trac II
Year: 1971
Description: Two-bladed cartridge
Slogan: "Two blades are better than one"
Cost of one cartridge: $0.20

Year: 1990
Description: Spring-mounted cartridge
Slogan: "Can sense and adjust to the contours of your face"
Cost of one cartridge: $0.79

Mach 3
Year: 1998
Description: three-bladed cartridge
Motto: "You take one stroke, it takes three"
Cost of one cartridge: $1.63

Year: 2006
Description: five-bladed cartridge
Slogan: "The comfort of five blades, the precision of one"
Cost of one cartridge: $3.00

Holy cow those cartridges are getting pricey. I tell you what, let's inflation adjust:

Safety Razor $ 0.52
Trac II $ 0.44
Sensor $ 1.14
Mach 3 $ 1.96
Fusion $ 3.00

Still frickin expensive. Why is this article in Businessweek timely? Because I've about had it with their product. 5 blades? Is that really necessary? The profit margin on these cartridges is insane. And I find they don't hold their edge as long as the previous models and I get a crappy shave. I have a thick growth so an irritating shave is a pain in my butt. Take a look at the top of that list - safety razor. What the hell is that? I'm barely old enough to remember. You just don't see them around anymore. Here's a picture of a safety razor on the right. It's that contraption your dad might have used when you were small. You slide a flat double edge blade into the holder and screw it down from the bottom of the handle.

My first experience with a safety razor was at the tender age of two. It's my first memory. I saw my dad's razor, picked it up, and dragged it across my face just like dad did. I proceeded to place a nice gash in my left cheek. I bled like a stuck pig. I don't remember any pain. I just remember my nanny walking in and shrieking and then running off. She actually completely ran off. We never saw her again. I expect she thought she'd be fired.

You might think after that I'd want to stay far away from these things. But the more I read the more I think the end product (the shave) is much better. Less irritation and less shaving bumps. It has a little more upfront investment in both money and learning but I like that if it cuts my consumables costs on the back end. Gillette after all makes a crapload of money with their cartridge products.

And besides, there's something about rituals that I like. I still enjoy placing old vinyl albums on a record player and laying the needle on top even though a CD has better sound and is easier to use. I can afford to spend a little more time on shaving if the experience is better. So I've done the research and bought one (the one in the picture) along with a few other accoutrements. I'll report back later with how the whole thing went and key lessons.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm in my mid-thirties and have been using a
double sided safety razor for the years.
I love it. Almost no shave irritation if I
pay attention to what I'm doing. And I can
remember the last time I cut my self.
I used to use a Gillette sensor, but the
cartridges were way pricey.

My grandfather left me this unused grooming kit and
had the Gillette safety razor in it. I love it.
You need to buy quality double sided
blades for it, I use Wilkinson Sword,
highly recommend them.