Gillette have a new innovation and no they haven’t just added another blade to their latest razor. Instead it appears that either they have found a touch of ironic humour and are responding to industry ribbing (like mine) or the recent increase in competition from Wilkinson Sword and King of Shaves has prompted them into the need to do more than normal.
The headline on the ad I saw read “We could have launched with 1 new innovation. We chose to deliver 7 all at-once” - hardly a belly laugh but certainly enough for a wry smile from those in the industry.
More seriously while it is easy to make some fun of their approach, which can seem a little simplistic, Gillette’s innovation strategy has been highly effective. They have continuously incrementally improved their core offer, normally in two stages. Stage one: the aforementioned increase in the number of blades. Stage two: a further upgrading of the shaving experinece (more lubrication, etc). Normally this second stage is a further one or two improvements, this time it’s seven. The result of this on-going strategy is that they have slowly and steadily uptraded men to pay much more for ‘the best they can get’. Simultaneously they have also extended the brand beyond its original core in razors into the wider world of men’s personal care and made a good job of that too.
Interesting to compare this with Wilkinson Sword who, 25 or 30 years ago, were sitting in a similar position as a leading brand in razors. For their brand extension strategy they chose to extend along the theme of sharp blades into gardening, the kitchen and the home. Now just imagine what would have happened had Gillette done that – a spade with 5 blades!