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The More Economical Grooming Niche Dollar Shave Club Missed

Dollar Shave Club grew to prominence in an era of shaving that was practically dominated by Gillette—and a traditional method of buying razor blades and shaving accessories. Thanks to a series of good decisions, including developing more brand personality, launching a viral advertising campaign, and most importantly, offering a subscription-based shaving model, the brand’s popularity exploded and eventually led to a billion-dollar acquisition.

 

The impact of Dollar Shave Club’s redefinition of what it means to buy razor blades can be seen in multiple areas. More men are subscribing to a monthly service, of course, and major competitors like Gillette are starting to offer subscription razor services of their own. Everywhere you look, you’ll find analysts commenting on how tech-based startups have disrupted the shaving industry.

This is certainly a fair assessment, but there’s one key niche that Dollar Shave Club neglected—and it’s already giving rise to some competitors eager to capitalize on it.

The Question of Price

Dollar Shave Club’s core subscription model is much more than a dollar these days. For a starter set, which includes travel butter, a handle, and a 4-pack of razor cartridges, you’ll pay $5, but for an ongoing subscription, you’ll pay up to $25 for every restock. You can choose the frequency at which you receive this restock box and customize it with different accessories related to personal grooming, but you can generally expect to pay at least this much for your monthly or bi-monthly boxes.

That’s not a bad deal, but it fails to capitalize on a demographic who wants a comfortable, basic shave—without the excessive add-ons and extras that Dollar Shave Club insists on including. That’s where startups like Shave.net come into play. Shave.net offers a much wider selection of shaving products, including single razor blade replacement packs for a dollar or less, and multi-blade cartridge replacement packs for just a few dollars. For consumers looking for an affordable, yet comfortable and convenient subscription saving solution, Shave.net presents an ideal alternative.

What Do Men Want in a Shave?

Of course, a high price point isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Most consumers are willing to pay more for products that provide them with a better overall experience. Accordingly, the philosophy behind Dollar Shave Club is that men will be willing to pay more for their monthly subscription, so long as they get high-tech, multi-blade razors and top-of-the-line grooming products to match. But do shaving customers really want to pay more for those extra bells and whistles?

Two main factors dictate how much someone is willing to spend on shaving per month, according to a study from Price Intelligently. As you might expect, people who shave more frequently are willing to spend more per month, with men who shave rarely being willing to pay less than $5 per month, and men who shave practically every day paying up to $20 a month. Note that even the high end of this spectrum is unlikely to find Dollar Shave Club’s new price point ideal.

Age also plays a role in how much men are willing to pay. Men aged 18 to 24 are willing to pay, on average, $13.08 per month, with those 25 to 34 willing to pay $14.59 per month. After that, willingness drops with age, with men aged 45 to 54 willing to pay an average of just $4.28 per month. In other words, for older demographics and those who shave infrequently, traditional subscription services are too expensive.

There’s also significant evidence to suggest that single- and double-bladed razors are more effective than multi-bladed razors, in almost every category. These basic razors produce less skin irritation, and result in a closer overall shave; at the same time, they tend to cost less, making them a preferable choice for most aware consumers.

The Urge to Upsell

Dollar Shave Club and Gillette are also driven by the understandable urge to upsell; it’s easier to sell new products and upgrades to an existing monthly subscriber than it is to reach out to someone entirely unfamiliar with your brand. They attempt to do this by upping the ante with purported “higher-quality” products, with additional goods like shower gels, shave butter, face wash, haircare products, toothpastes, and even butt wipes. But to the millions of men who just want a simple, comfortable, inexpensive shave, these additions are alienating.

There’s a reason why Dollar Shave Club became so popular, and it certainly has a loyal enough subscriber base to keep it running for years to come. But its high prices and unnecessary add-ons are neglecting a key demographic—and one that new brands like Shave.net are capitalizing on, with a simpler, less expensive, and ultimately more comfortable shaving experience.

Author : Holly Hutton

Born in the Big Easy and raised in the Sunshine State, Holly has spent the last five years brunching in the Big Apple and bantering with Big Ben. As a wandering writer, techy-in-training, and avid alliterator, Holly has written everything from educational policy and political news briefs to web content and travel blogs. She is thrilled to be a part of the KS team and working with a community of smart, savvy, entrepreneurs on all things startup!

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