Gillette launches premium division with first heated razor

Gillette has launched premium division Gillette Labs as it looks to appeal to a wider audience, particularly high-end consumers and early tech adopters.

Innovation is key to the strategy, with a heated razor becoming the first product to launch as part of the premium offer.

Gillette’s brand manager, Matt Thomas, tells Marketing Week: “Gillette Labs has been designed to create beautiful tech-inspired products of which the heated razor is the first. It tries to merge aesthetically pleasing product design with the real functional benefit that we know guys are looking for.”

The razor is the result of extensive research in the brand’s R&D centre, where researchers watch 80 men shave a day in front of two-way mirrors to discover new innovations.

The Procter & Gamble-owned brand discovered men were adding a hot towel or water to their face to provide heat so decided to integrate a warming bar into a premium razor.

A different marketing strategy

At £199, Gillette has taken a “very different” approach to marketing in order to attract target consumers and communicate the premium price point.

The brand began its marketing push with a crowdfunding round on Indiegogo in September 2018, to garner interest from its target audience and gain invaluable feedback.

Gillette made 200 products available via the crowdfunding platform, which sold out within six days, with the condition that consumers had to provide feedback.

Thomas explains: “The reason we wanted to launch Indiegogo was firstly because it is one of the hubs for early adopters and tech lovers and it was important that we try to establish the tech-inspired nature of the brand.

“The other, more important [reason] was trying to gain consumer feedback to help adapt and improve the product before we launched it on a mass scale.”

He adds: “Ultimately [we’re] focused on working out who is more likely to buy the product in the first place and really honing down on that insight and trying to find how we can go after them.”

The brand used this information to identify which customers were willing to buy the premium razor, noting luxury buyers and tech early adopters were key.

Despite other innovations for Gillette Labs in the works, Thomas says: “We are very much focused on establishing the heated razor and creating demand for it within the market.”

To do so, the brand plans to use social media and high-end affiliate partners through print and retail.

We’re very much treating this as a product that will follow the consumer rather than try to chase down distribution points.

Matt Thomas, Gillette

Thomas explains: “We are not overly communicating on things like the benefits, which we would do for a more mass product. We are trying to create that feeling of it it being a very indulgent and luxurious product, so it is very simplistic in terms of actual executions.”

This includes heroing the product by focusing on the tech, and selling it exclusively through high-end retailer Selfridges.

There are plans to roll it out to other distributors but Thomas admits “this very much depends on feedback”.

He adds: “We’re very much treating this as a product that will follow the consumer rather than try to chase down distribution points.”

Gillette is optimistic its premium division will be a “meaningful part” of its portfolio and is part of a broader plan to focus on innovation on more specific demographics.

“Whats important to us is we innovate across our entire portfolio to make sure we have products that meet every consumer need at every price point,” Thomas explains.

Despite this, Gillette understands the heated razor is for a minority customer base. Thomas explains: “We know it is not going to be for everyone. Not everyone will want to have a warming bar in their razor and not everyone will want to spend £199 on a razor. We are fine with that.”

Changing the Venus brand purpose

Procter & Gamble has also given its female razor range Venus a new brand position. It launched a campaign in the UK this week, which seeks to celebrate women’s “imperfection”.

My Skin My Way shows women of different shapes, sizes and backgrounds discussing how their imperfections have shaped them.

Thomas explains: “The whole campaign is focused around their perceived skin imperfections and how those in the past have had negative connotations. But at Venus we are going to celebrate them and talk about them, not as scars of the past but as things women can celebrate that make them unique.”

The new brand positioning is part of P&G’s wider plan to connect with millennials, which saw Gillette launch its divisive ‘Better Men’ ad. Thomas adds: “We going on the same journey with Venus as we have done with Gillette.”

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