Friday, September 15, 2006

Gillette: Dull Blades, Not Dim Wits

Gillette's tagline has always been, "The best a man can get" but it should now read, "Men who confuse motion with progress." No wonder parent P&G is disappointed with their recent business acquisition and performance of top management rumored due for a shake up.

Not long ago (remember when razors had only two blades?) I met with Gillette's head of technology, research and product development. He introduced me to their next "innovation," a three blade razor. It wasn't long before I quipped, "Boy, I can't wait to see your introduction of razors with 4,5,6,7,8,9,and 10 blades" - a comment which drew a frown - for there you have it. I had hit Gillette's business strategy square on the head. I laughed. But no one needs razors with 5,6,7,8,9,or 10 blades as evidenced by Gillette's dramatic slowdown. That was nearly 15 years ago sitting on the top floor of Gillette Headquarters in Boston.

Technological window dressing (Gillette Fusion's Star Wars/Star Trek/halosphere approach) so prevalent in the brand's campaigns for latest launch Fusion will not engage the brand's warp drive. Maybe the brand should go back in time, not forward, and simplify - mornings are already so complex with Folgers being the best part of waking up. The company needs to find new consumer needs or "selling dimensions" that are more relevant and resonant to heavy users - Here is the true opportunity to innovate. Would that be Damascus steel rather than a light saber? Damascus is an ancient process of folding steel in visible and controllable patterns to produce the sharpest blades as found in Saracen swords. Looking back rather than forward might inject some caffeine into consumer engagement. Didn't those guys have tougher beards anyway?

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