Reimagining Gillette for the modern man | WARC | The Feed
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Reimagining Gillette for the modern man
Gillette, the P&G-owned male grooming brand, was built on the clean-shaven look, but today more than half of men worldwide sport beards, including two-thirds of millennial men – it has had to rethink what it does and how it does it.
Why it matters
For many years, Gillette famously discouraged employees from having beards (and suppliers and agencies). Its initial assumption that the facially hirsute look was merely a passing fad, popular among hipsters but not among the male population at large, started to look awry when sportsmen it was paying to advertise its razors grew beards.
The company effectively made the mistake of believing its own marketing (“the best a man can be”) rather than understanding the shift that was taking place – and one that has been accelerated over the past two years by lockdowns.
A new focus
For twenty years or more, the marketing of male grooming products seemed to revolve largely around the number of blades one could successfully fit on a razor, rising from two to five. But the products were expensive and post-2010 a new breed of business appeared, in the form of Dollar Shave Club and other new DTC brands, offering multiple-blade products more cheaply and conveniently via a subscription service. Gillette also ventured into this territory in 2015 but, as Bloomberg notes, failed to attract many sign-ups.
It wasn’t until 2018, when Gary Coombe took over as chief executive officer of P&G’s grooming arm, that the strategy changed to embrace the beard and to develop suitable new grooming products – combs, waxes, oils. At the same time, a key insight that emerged from research was that men with facial hair still shave, leading to a razor engineered to target the neckline.
Leading from the top
Top (male) executives grew beards to try out the new King C. Gillette line of products themselves. “It turned out to be one of the most powerful communications of a new strategy that I’d ever done,” Coombe said. “You can stand up there with a PowerPoint slide and talk about it. But walk through the world shaving headquarters with a beard, and you’re the CEO? People notice.”
King C. Gillette helped P&G’s grooming division increase revenue by 6% in 2021, to $6.4bn and end almost a decade of annual declines.
Sourced from Bloomberg [Image: Getty]
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