Here at TVE we love a bit of disruptive thinking. And of all the examples I’ve seen of late, this is one of the smartest, most irreverent, and downright brilliant.
Earlier this year a tiny online start-up decided to take on the big guns, and so far their courage has served them well. When I say ‘courage’ what I actually mean is humour, clever viral marketing, a borrowed business model, and a shed load of creativity. Dollar Shave Club is the name and according to their Old Spice-esque YouTube video their “blades are f***ing great!”
When they launched in March 2012 they drew an impressive 17,000 subscribers in just one week. And all from a video that cost their CEO, founder and all-round comedian Michael Dubin just $4,500 to make himself. Five months on and that same video has received almost 6 million views on YouTube. Not bad for a brand that has taken an entirely social approach to marketing.
So, how does it work? For most men shaving is essential, so it’s understandable that the high cost of today’s razors is the source of some frustration. Dubin realised that if he could sell blades direct to the consumer he could reduce costs, whilst still offering a product to rival everything else on the market. From as little as $1 per month he offered members the chance to receive high-quality razors delivered right to their door – no more running out of blades! Even the most premium option – the $9 per month 6-blade kit offered better value than the Gillette Fusion ProGlides of this world. And with his subscription model (based on Netflix’s own model) Dubin could ensure that he only had to get the customer in once before auto-renew kicked in.
The prediction is that if Dubin keeps up his current pace, he’ll have nearly a million subscribers by the end of his first year in business. So what does Dollar Shave Club’s success – a true David and Goliath tale if ever there was one – tell us about the capitalist model in general?
Whilst the balance of power remains in favour of established brands for now, small ones that think differently and communicate in a way that can’t be ignored have a chance to grow beyond start-up status. Dollar Shave Club has used social media to win visibility and trust directly from the consumer. And without a retailer acting as a middle man this sort of approach can go a long way to levelling the consumer products playing field.
It won’t work for everyone, of course; for a start, not every CEO can double as a comedy-sketch genius! But the important lesson all brands can learn from Dollar Shave Club is that sometimes a bit of clever thinking, a new and often unexpected approach, and a whole load of passion can go a long way. To a $60 million dollar business in a year if predictions about DSC are to be proven right!