While King Camp Gillette’s invention has often been given credit for the razors and blades business model–that model that includes a low-priced entry-point for higher-priced consumables–it is not entirely accurate.
In the early days, Gillette charged some $5 for its razors. This $5 sum amounted to up to 2 weeks salary for the average American–not exactly the same razor and blades business strategy we have come to embrace for everything from printers to water filtration systems.
However, in today’s day and age, the business of razors and blades has changed since the early days. No, in today’s world switching costs are basically nothing as various shave club subscription services vie and compete for what is generally a massive market and a lucrative business.
Switching costs among various competing providers of shaving supplies–which could include razors, blades, soaps, creams and aftershaves–are very low. The business of shaving has, for the most part, become very commoditized.
Any brand loyalty resides in either brand charisma, convenience or quality. The rest is just commodity, which is why Amazon unfortunately takes many of the wins with the convenience of one and two day shipping.
Those that use a straight or a safety razor to shave might argue that going to cartridge shaving would constitute a step down in quality. The cartridge side of the fence might make the somewhat week argument for speed. Such an argument would opine that cartridge razor shaving saves you almost five minutes a day in additional prep time.
While the up-front costs of wet shaving can be a bit more substantial (e.g. $30 to $300+), the long term consumable market for blades and soaps are nominal at best. Once committed, a wet shaver may keep cartridge razors on hand and shave with both from time-to-time, but they’re less likely to make the switch back.
From what we’ve found, it’s not a result of the cost either. The move back to cartridges rarely happens because of the quality, not the low barrier-to-entry cost.
When it comes to switching cost among competing providers of cartridge razors, the barriers are extremely low. That’s why those that have built a truly identifiable brand are those that have been able to bring the big “W.”
Nothing keeps either consumer from trying a new razor “platform” from one month to the next. The real question apart from price is, how good are the blades and how cool is the brand you’re purchasing them from?