The rise of subscription shaving companies over the last five years has been nothing short of miraculous.
It’s not surprising, however, when the daily shave was getting about as expensive as gasing-up the car (slightly kidding).
Table of Contents
- Do Shave Clubs Really Save You Money?
- Dollar Shave Club Alternatives
- Women’s Shave Club Alternatives
- Shave Club: Try Before You Subscribe
- Subscribe to Shave.net!
Do Shave Clubs Really Save You Money?
The quick answer: not really.
You can purchase the same razors, at the same expensive prices at your local drug store. In many cases, if you look around, you can buy them in bulk and get discounts of 20-50%. That is, as long as you don’t mind storing them somewhere.
The initial story sold by the shaving clubs of the world is that joining such a club will save you money apart from expensive name-brand razors–which is certainly true. There is a slight marginal, but often not-that-meaningful difference in the cost.
But the real factor that a shave club offers is the convenience of not having to think about purchasing blades on a recurring basis. And this is a real benefit, especially for a man who hates to go into the store.
If you’re truly looking to save money on a shave, your best bet is to opt for the shave that includes blades that cost between $0.10 and $0.25. While the initial cost to get into safety razor shaving is a bit higher, the on-going, recurring price will save you thousands over a lifetime.
The margins on cartridge razors are absolutely ridiculous. It is estimated that it costs Gillette about $0.10 to manufacture the Gillette Fusion razor blade, while they charge about $4.00. It’s great for the corporate profits, but effectively bad for consumers.
Companies use many differentiating factors when comparing themselves against the competition quality, convenience, service and price.
Wet shaving provides the solution to price, quality and convenience, particularly if you want the products shipped directly to you. It’s it’s money (or the environment) you are looking to save, get rid of the cartridges and shift to the safety razor revolution.
Dollar Shave Club Alternatives
While there are literally hundreds of options of “alternatives” for a subscription-based shaving service, it is likely best to break them down categorically.
What are the Different Niches that Compete with the Dollar Shave Club?
Shaving tools are not all created equal. In fact, in today’s world, there are almost too many options in both hardware (plastic and steel) and software (soaps and creams) to choose from.
So, in an effort to keep things simple, we will break the alternatives down into classical traditional wet shaving and cartridge razor shaving. In order to make the list, the company must provide a recurring, replenishment program based on subscription. Otherwise, the list would be much too long for a single shaving blog post.
Cartridge Razor Shaving
Dollar Shave Club
With its quirky viral promotional videos the Dollar Shave Club quickly captured a massive amount of market share. Thanks to their runaway success, the are now the exclusive subscription provider for PacShave and DorcoUSA razors and blades. Dollar Shave Club boasts millions of subscribers worldwide and growing. Unilever is now the parent company of the Dollar Shave Club after having acquired them for a reported $1B in cash.
Harry’s came into the picture in quick succession and subsequent to the Dollar Shave Club, albeit with a slight twist to the model. Unlike the Dollar Shave Club who chose to enter the market quickly by partnering with Dorco on the actual product, Harry’s developed their own cartridge razor set, opting to contract with a German razor blade manufacturer. Their success has been similar to Dollar Shave Club and after multiple rounds of funding, they eventually horizontally integrated by acquiring their contract manufacturing facility in Germany.
The unabashed market leader was somewhat late to the subscription shave club party, but after their attempts to legally squash Dollar Shave Club, they joined in the fray–a classic case of, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Gillette offers versions of the Mach 3 and Fusion brands shipped as a monthly subscription. Gillette runs their “OnDemand” service as well as their twist on classical wet shaving via TheArtofShaving.com where they offer safety razors, cartridge razors, soaps and creams via a replenishment program. The Art of Shaving was acquired by Gillette several years ago for some $60M.
Women’s Shave Club Alternatives
Every since the advent of subscription-based shaving clubs, including the front-runner Dollar Shave Club, alternatives have emerged. Even Dollar Shave Club–with their fantastically witty advertisements has attempted to move beyond the idea of shaving just for men, now tailoring their content for the women side of the spectrum as well.
Yes, women shave too. In fact, it is likely that women shave much more than men do as hair on women is much more taboo.
Even Charles Darwin in his Descent of Man promulgated (incorrectly) that women were evolutionarily more likely to have less bodily hair.
The absence of hair on the body is to a certain extent a secondary sexual character; for in all parts of the world women are less hairy than men. Therefore we may reasonably suspect that this character has been gained through sexual selection. We know that the faces of several species of monkeys, and large surfaces at the posterior end of the body of other species, have been denuded of hair; and this we may safely attribute to sexual selection, for these surfaces are not only vividly coloured, but sometimes, as with the male mandrill and female rhesus, much more vividly in the one sex than in the other, especially during the breeding-season. I am informed by Mr. Bartlett that, as these animals gradually reach maturity, the naked surfaces grow larger compared with the size of their bodies. The hair, however, appears to have been removed, not for the sake of nudity, but that the colour of the skin may be more fully displayed. So again with many birds, it appears as if the head and neck had been divested of feathers through sexual selection, to exhibit the brightly-coloured skin.
As the body in woman is less hairy than in man, and as this character is common to all races, we may conclude that it was our female semi-human ancestors who were first divested of hair, and that this occurred at an extremely remote period before the several races had diverged from a common stock. Whilst our female ancestors were gradually acquiring this new character of nudity, they must have transmitted it almost equally to their offspring of both sexes whilst young; so that its transmission, as with the ornaments of many mammals and birds, has not been limited either by sex or age. There is nothing surprising in a partial loss of hair having been esteemed as an ornament by our ape-like progenitors, for we have seen that innumerable strange characters have been thus esteemed by animals of all kinds, and have consequently been gained through sexual selection…
… With respect to the completion of the process through sexual selection, it is well to bear in mind the New Zealand proverb, “There is no woman for a hairy man.” All who have seen photographs of the Siamese hairy family will admit how ludicrously hideous is the opposite extreme of excessive hairiness. And the king of Siam had to bribe a man to marry the first hairy woman in the family; and she transmitted this character to her young offspring of both sexes.
Whilst this would appear as somewhat of a digression, it is important to note that not only was Darwin subject to his own biases of what was more or less natural for the female of the species but it would appear he also expected women to be less hairy.
Without further adieu, here are some of the ladies shave clubs who are penetrating the already hostile razor wars.
When we expect ladies to have less bodily hair, ads like that created for Billie’s “Project Hair” campaign seem to slap in the face of what we would take as traditional societal norm:
By the comments, however, we can see that people like the against-the-grain approach.
Their contrarian style with their new “Project Body Hair” has been received among both men and women. They are currently the most prolific among other players out due in part to their genius ad approach.
All Girl’s Shave Club
Like the folks at MyBillie, the All Girl’s Shave Club provides a subscription-based shave club for ladies only. The All Girl’s Shave Club provides more than just the blades and razor, but the gift boxes comes almost as a complete care package. Their highest monthly package costs $33 before shipping.
They sell the handles for $6 and the blades run about $2.25 a piece.
Angel’s Shave Club
Similar to the All Girl’s Shave Club and Billie, the Angel’s Shave Club also provides a shaving subscription to women. They have a Free Trial version and charge a similar $2.25 price for their individual cartridge blades.
Interestingly both the All Girl’s Shave Club and the Angel’s Shave Club are procuring their ladies shave club cartridge razors from the same manufacturer we do in China. Hard to differentiate based on anything more than price (or perhaps up-sells, service and perks) if the razors and blades are identically the same.
There remains a segment in the ladies corner who actually want quality options so ladies can shave their legs with a safety razor.
While there are options that the ladies can choose when it comes to subscribing to a shave club, they are much more limited than the men’s versions and there are many women who have joined other primarily men-focused shave clubs as well.
Are there other ladies shave clubs we are missing here? If so, please do share and we will include them.
Classic Wet Shaving Clubs & Alternatives
Wet Shave Club
There really is only one Wet Shave Club at WetShaveClub.com. The nature of the razors and blades in wet shaving does not provide the margins to justify an entire business surrounding it. Hence, the Wet Shave Club provides variations of soaps, creams and other soft products on a monthly or semi-monthly basis.
*Update–It appears the original Wet Shave Club has gone out of business, but that doesn’t mean we can help fill the void.
A very large number of online vendors cater to the wet shaving community, some are more successful than others. None of the others–from what we have found– include a subscription-based service.
Here at Shave.net and Razors.net, we service the needs of real men, providing a subscription-based cartridge and safety razor service at affordable prices, understanding that men shave differently. We also acknowledge that some men use both a safety razor and cartridge razors, depending on what the time, speed and need of their respective shaves.
Will Wet Shaving Ever Experience a Similar “Dollar Shave Club Moment”?
Lucky for Dollar Shave Club, they struck a marketing nerve during a perfect storm:
- People were tired of paying too much for shaving
- They were willing and wanting to have their razors and blades shipped directly to them
- The market wanted a higher quality, but did not want to spend $40/month to get it
- Their video(s) were very well-done.
While the Dollar Shave Club mostly compared based on price, a simultaneous uprising in more traditional wet shaving came around the same time, as abundantly witnessed by the following graph, courtesy Google Trends:
Unilever bet big on Dollar Shave Club’s model and team. Rightfully so, the company was able to quickly capture a large portion of Gillette’s dominance within only a few years. Furthermore, the market’s size and future growth is not expected to slow, but grow to $31B+ by the year 2020.
Instead of focusing on an improved shave experience, Dollar Shave Club’s initial push focused on differences related to price, not quality. The company effectively created its own price war. Not a bad deal for Dollar Shave Club, but very bad news for incumbent Gillette.
Per the graph above, online searches for general terms like “shave”, “wet shaving” and “safety razor” coincided with the viral spike that occurred when Dollar Shave Club entered the market. It was as if the classic wet shaving market simply road the coattails of a wave that appears to have significantly tapered in recent years.
Wet Shaving’s Day in the Limelight
Unfortunately for wet shaving hardware and accouterments providers, the margins on traditional wet shaving as it relates to recurring hardware purchases are not incentive enough for larger incumbents to even think about entering the market. At $2 to $4 a blade, both Gillette and Dollar Shave Club are still doing well on margins. No one would try to compete by selling a product that is some 10x to 20x less expensive. Any such provider would need to sell 10x to 20x the product, all at lower margins. Not something that falls within the salivating venture capital bucket for consumer goods. Hence, there are not going to be large ad budgets focused on classic wet shaving. Not going to happen. Hence, the industry remains small, obscure and essentially the red-headed step-child of shaving at large. Or, more appropriately wet shaving is the old grandpa that no one wants to spend time with. People would rather spend time with their hip cartridge razor cousin.
Here are the questions I personally have:
- Has traditional wet shaving already had its Dollar Shave Club moment?
- Was Dollar Shave Club nothing more than a catalyst that drove more people back to wet shaving? Will wet shaving have it’s own Dollar Shave Club moment?
- Without the aid of a viral video to push individuals toward market acceptance, how will classic wet shaving be able to penetrate a absolutely massive market without EVER having a massive ad budget?
- As a small, cottage industry, will wet shaving ever have a massive demand spike that is not driven by outside forces in the cartridge razor market?
Shave Club: Try Before You Subscribe
As part of our firm commitment to a growing community of shavers, we are actively working to let you choose the best shave that fits you. Whether you’re into one, three, five or fifteen blades in your razor head, we’re here for you.
Here’s how our try-before-you-subscribe shave club works:
- Chose and subscribe to one of the five different cartridge razors we offer on our website.
- After making your selection, simply email us at shave[at]shave.net, letting us know you saw this article and we will send you a test selection of three of the five razors we offer.
When we send you the test selection, you will also receive a handle and a couple of “test” razor blades with your order so you can amply test each of your desired and chosen styles to see which fits best with your particular shaving routine.
No need to ship back anything. You can keep each of the handles. Once you have decided which works the best for you, we can then alter your subscription to fit your individual needs.
This method of testing with our customers does two things.
First, it lets our customers experiment to find out which type of shave best meets their particular needs. It’s something we thought we would want and we are passing that fulfilled desire on to our customers. You’re welcome 🙂
Second, it provides us with the ample market feedback we need in sourcing product for future customers. In the long run it allows us to truly understand what is in demand and which particular manufacturers out of those we are working with would be the most “worthy” to fulfill the regular shaving needs of our members.
Subscribe to Shave.net!
Great news! Our customers can now become members of one of our many shave subscription plans. With the subscription replenishment plan, customers can choose from a wide variety of their most regularly used products and choose which ones they would like regularly delivered and at what intervals they would like the deliveries to take place.
Here’s How to Subscribe
Simply visit the product page of the item you are looking to purchase on a recurring basis. If the item is available for subscription, you will see something that looks like the following near the “Add to Cart” button. Simply select the “Subscribe and Save” button at the bottom right. Once selected, you will be able to indicate at what intervals you would like the replenishment products sent.
In doing so, also remember to select the total quantity of the product you would like to be sent.
As you walk through the purchase process, you may be prompted additional times as to the level of your subscription. Remember, subscribing is completely optional and you can simply login to your account at anytime and cancel your subscription. There is no long-term commitment.
Benefits of Subscribing
As a subscriber you automatically save off of the regular price of select, recurring products that are listed on our website and which we currently hold in stock.
Subscribing also allows you to “set it and forget it.” For those who may have difficulty in remembering to purchase or replenish their razor blades, shaving soaps or shaving creams each month, the subscription takes care of this for you.
We fully recognize that those who regularly purchase double-edge safety razor blades, once a large pack is purchased, there is likely not need to purchase them again for another year or more. We love that about single blade shaving. It’s what is best for the consumer. However, if you’re a cartridge razor shaver or you really love a particular soap or cream, using the subscribe button is helpful in getting the items you want at the intervals that make sense to you.
And, since you can choose to only have your blades and other accouterments delivered once each month or simply once a year, it makes for a simple and effective means for those that may not regularly follow all of the shaving forums and shaving blogs.
We love this feature and hope you will too!
We look forward to working with you at perfecting the perfect shave! You can subscribe hereto begin your journey to the perfect shave.