Building a shaving brand for Millennials

October 14, 2016
3 min read

Younger consumers expect personal care brands to offer customized value and a message that is straightforward in a fun and engaging way. Meanwhile, start-ups are shaking up the shaving market and putting pressure on established brands.

Give it to them straight with humor

Consumers look for low price as an important reason to purchase disposable razors or razor cartridges, according to Mintel’s Shaving and Hair Removal US 2015 report. It might be considered unglamorous, but Dollar Shave Club embellished this narrative and personalized the shaving experience through humorous messaging that has resonated with millions in the online world. Mintel research shows us that more than seven in 10 Millennials want ads to be funny, while 45% want them to entertain without feeling like an advertisement. The popularity of Dollar Shave Club’s marketing strategy created a community and a new brand was born that has become, for many Millennials, part of their loyal list of personal care standouts.

Direct, engaging, entertaining and funny are just a few adjectives to describe the creative kickoff ad from Dollar Shave Club that went viral. It touched on the key features that Millennials look for in an ad or more accurately – an experience.

Green is part of a young consumer’s product selection book

63% of US Millennials believe each individual has an obligation to act environmentally responsibly


Leaf Shave recently completed a successful crowdfunding campaign and has moved into production of the Leaf razor. The company uses a traditional razor/razor blade pricing scheme, emphasizing low priced replacement blades that can “be as low as 5 cents” each.

More importantly, the Leaf razor isn’t going into a landfill anytime soon, unlike disposable razors and cartridges. Younger generations, in particular, will find the eco-friendly feature appealing and are more likely to steer towards the new brand based on ethical perceptions. For instance, 63% of US Millennials believe each individual has an obligation to act environmentally responsibly.

Brands should consider developing an eco-friendly message along with the razor functionality/pricing for younger generations. Setting up a pop up store that requires an entrance fee of a dozen used razors where consumers can enjoy a unique shaving/facial experience is one such idea (as Recycle Nation did).

Start-ups whittle away established brands’ market share

Gillette has seen its market share drop 12% from 2010 to 2016, taken away, in large part, by start-ups like Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s, which just expanded from online only to mass market retail via Target stores.

Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion is expected to give the online innovator access to retail channels, as well. In addition, the direct-to-consumer marketer will enhance how Unilever shows off its brands to younger consumers.

To stay competitive, established brands need to evolve – and fast – to entertain a demanding and educated younger consumer. Start-ups are agile and willing to push their business vision; they are not hindered by bureaucracy, and personally invest and partner with their customers. They are also not afraid to iterate, fail and iterate again.

Established brands can play the suing card, and while there might be a reprieve from their market share loss by slowing down competitors for the short term, without a new way of thinking they jeopardize their long term future.

David Tyrrell is a Global Skincare Analyst, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel. He provides analysis of consumer skincare needs and behaviors, ingredient and product assessments and competitive insights that impact business interests of skincare companies across the globe.

David Tyrrell
David Tyrrell

David Tyrrell is Global Skincare Analyst at Mintel. He analyzes consumer skincare needs and behaviors, ingredient and product assessments and competitive insights.

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