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Razor market battle sharpens

News, 21 July 2016

SANTA MONICA, CA: Unilever's $1bn acquisition of Dollar Shave Club not only pitches the company into another battle with FMCG rival Procter & Gamble, it also offers it a new stream of customer data to work with.

Ownership of the irreverent subscription grooming service gives Unilever, the UK-based FMCG business, an entry to the razor market and a 5% share of the North American market, the Financial Times reported.

But it remains some way behind Gillette, the P&G brand that claims a 59% share and which launched its own online Shaving Club this time last year.

Dollar Shave Club, set up in 2011, claims to have 3.2m members and expects to hit revenue figures around $240m this year. It is currently only available in three markets – the US, Canada and Australia – but that may change fairly soon.

Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America, said: "We plan to leverage the global strength of Unilever to support Dollar Shave Club in achieving its full potential in terms of offering and reach."

That is likely to be music to the ears of agencies working with the world's second biggest spender on advertising. Advertising Age noted that Dollar Shave Club already rivals Gillette for leadership in TV spending, thanks to its venture-funded, internally created ads.

Kruythoff described Dollar Shave Club as "an innovative and disruptive male grooming brand with incredibly deep connections to its diverse and highly engaged consumers".

Those connections mean that the brand possesses "unique consumer and data insights", which will feed into the way Unilever now operates around the world, from creating highly personalised WeChat campaigns in China to using analytics to take the guesswork out of marketing decisions.

Alan Jope, Unilever's president of personal care, told a conference earlier this year: "We're increasingly capturing huge amounts of information about what really matters to our consumers and feeding these insights virtually and real time to our global and local marketing teams."

Data sourced from Advertising Age, Financial Times, Fortune, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff