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Charlotte Rogers: The razor subscription market is already on the verge of saturation

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dollar shave club

Subscription services are the beating heart of any successful ecosystem brand. From Amazon Prime and Netflix to Deliveroo’s £8 a month Plus service, brands in every industry are realising the importance of getting consumers to commit.

No sector has been more disrupted by the fight for subscriptions than the men’s shaving market. Innovation was once limited to the latest high-tech release from Procter & Gamble’s Gillette, but last year the shaving market exploded with the breakthrough success of online-only subscription brand Dollar Shave Club.

The business model is simple. Subscribe to have razor blades delivered to your door on a monthly basis. Users are able to leave at any time and are promised a 100% money back guarantee if they’re not happy.

Realising that not every man is interested in owning the latest high-tech razor blade, Dollar Shave Club pitched its entry level ‘Humble Twin’ blade at $1 a month (plus $2 for shipping and handling), rising to $9 for the ‘Executive’ six blade razor.

The collection has since evolved to include own-brand shaving butter, post-shave moisturiser, wipes, hair-styling products and toothpaste. Members are incentivised to introduce their friends to the service in order to gain $5 in Dollar Save Club credits.

The online razor market is hitting maturity faster than anyone – including the brands – expected.

Dollar Shave Club launched in 2012 and now accounts for 54% of the US online shaving marketing, according to Euromonitor figures, with rival Gillette claiming just a 21% share. The business model impressed FMCG giant Unilever so much that it acquired the startup for $1bn in July 2016.

Now Dollar Shave Club is finally bringing its brand to the UK. While its shaving and grooming products will not be available for purchase until early 2018, from 27 November British consumers have been able to sign up as the brand’s first UK members.

Saturation point

Despite the burgeoning product mix, irreverent brand identity and engaging social campaigns, Dollar Save Club could have waited too long to play its hand in the UK, a market already nearing saturation with online subscription men’s grooming brands.

Gillette, for example, launched its on-demand service in May, allowing customers to text for a shipment or subscribe to get every fourth order free. The collection ranges from the basic three blade Gillette Mach 3 razor to the advanced Gillette Proshield Flexball five blade razor.

US import Harry’s, meanwhile, launched in the UK in June and went big with an outdoor and digital campaign the following month, positioning itself as ‘shaving’s other guys’. For £2.95 consumers receive a handle, blade, shave gel and a travel blade cover. Following the trial, they are automatically enrolled on a subscription plan, which they can modify to fit their needs.

READ MORE: Meet Harry’s, the shaving startup taking on Gillette

Founded in 2013, Harry’s currently has three million customers in the US alone. As a trans-Atlantic loyalty push the brand encouraged its US consumers to invite their UK friends to sign up in return for early access once Harry’s launched in Britain in July.

These brands are also missing a trick by failing to create a female-focused product or overtly gender-neutral blade.

While Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s have a distinctly American identity, which could fall flat with UK consumers, Cornerstone is a British alternative founded in 2014 and built on £1m of crowdfunding. The brand, which claims to have “tens of thousands” of customers, delivers one box of razors every six to 18 weeks depending on the user’s needs, at a cost of £14. Consumers can add face scrub, shaving gel, shaving cream and a post-shave balm to their order.

And then there’s French razor brand Bic, which in November brought its own Shave Club to the UK, a subscription service of non-disposable, refillable razors. Consumers receive fresh blades on a monthly or bi-monthly based on their shaving needs.

Standing out among all this noise could prove a real challenge. As these brands fight it out on price, subscription model and overall service, they are also missing out on another potential revenue stream by failing to create a female-focused product or overtly gender-neutral blade.

The subscription-only blade brands are also vulnerable to consumer demand for electronic shaving devices. This trend was highlighted in P&G’s fourth quarter results, which showed that while organic sales in the grooming sector have fallen 1% due to “reduced pricing in shave care”, the company experienced double-digit organic sales growth for its electric shaving appliances.

Furthermore figures from data analytics company 1010Data suggest that since the Unilever acquisition Dollar Shave Club’s sales have flatlined, with customer acquisition and retention also slowing. While the brand itself dismisses these statistics, the data could suggest that the online razor market is hitting maturity faster than anyone – including the brands – expected.

Creating a distinct proposition, differentiated by branching out into gender neutral alternatives and a wider product mix, could help brands like Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s and Gillette stave off saturation and ensure that consumers on both sides of the Atlantic continue to renew their subscriptions.

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Marketing Day: Blockchain myths, digital billboards & Belgian court fines Facebook

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Here’s our recap of what happened in online marketing today, as reported on Marketing Land and other places across the web.

From Marketing Land:

Recent Headlines From MarTech Today, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Marketing Technology:

Online Marketing News From Around The Web:

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Bold kids looking for adventure are featured in new campaign for Universal Parks & Resorts

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The kids featured in the new ‘Grow Bolder’ campaign for Universal Parks & Resorts are ready to take off the training wheels and go on adventures.

The national brand campaign for Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood showcases Universal theme parks as destinations for kids who are ready to take the next step and up their vacation quotients.

Created in partnership between Universal Parks & Resorts and David&Goliath, the campaign features a cinematic, black and white spot featuring kids who are empowered and eager to stand on their own, speak for themselves and boldly take on the respective parks.

We see a young wizard in Harry Potter’s world ready to wave a wand, plus a kid who isn’t afraid to venture in with the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, or wield a ray gun with Minions, go face to face with King Kong or save the planet with Transformers.

“This campaign captures the essence of what we offer our guests every day,” said Alice Norsworthy, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Universal Parks & Resorts. “Our theme parks offer the kind of vacation experiences that allow families to vacation together and to grow together.”

Added David Angelo, founder and chairman of David&Goliath: “Now more than ever kids are growing up fast, and we wanted to be a part of that growth. But instead of telling kids ‘you don’t have to grow up,’ we let them speak for themselves. We see fearless kids boldly challenging themselves in the most cinematic way. And we show that what you experience at Universal Parks is more than a day of smiles, it’s a chance to truly grow in ways beyond what you imagined.”

Throughout the campaign, Universal Parks & Resorts and David&Goliath will introduce new initiatives and creative on all platforms from social to digital to ambient, all amplifying the brand’s ‘Grow Bolder’ message to kids and families around the world.

The spot airs during the last week of the Winter Olympics on NBC and its affiliates.

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Cristiano Ronaldo refuses to part with his suitcase in spot for American Tourister

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Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo is starring in a spot for luggage brand American Tourister in which he causes quite a stir at an airport for refusing to separate from his suitcase.

Created by TBWA\Spain, which has been tapped by American Tourister to lead the brand's global campaign efforts this year, the spot encourages travelers to ‘Bring Back More’ from their trips. According to the agency, Ronaldo personifies this tagline since he “brings back more memories, experiences and memorabilia from every trip.”

Directed by Augusto de Fraga, the spot features Ronaldo strolling through an airport with a bright yellow bag. When an airline attendant asks him for his luggage at the check-in counter, he smiles and shakes his head before jumping onto the conveyer belt alongside his suitcase. He then proceeds to stay with his bag throughout his entire journey – even during the flight and all the way to the baggage carousel – as fans gawk and snap pictures.

Video of Cristiano Ronaldo – American Tourister TVC

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On social, American Tourister is asking fans to guess what’s in Ronaldo’s bag by posting a photo of their best guess along with the hashtags #BringBackMore and #AmericanTourister. Those who submit ideas will have the chance to win a trip to Russia for two or some of American Tourister’s products.

According to TBWA\Spain, the brand will be releasing different activations with the football legend in the upcoming months.

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