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Gillette Raises Bar With Five Blade Razor. What Say We Make It An Even Dozen.


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September 14, 2005

Gillette Raises Bar With Five Blade Razor. What Say We Make It An Even Dozen.

David Kiley

Gillette Co. today unveiled its newest shaving system, a five-bladed razor called Fusion that comes with a nifty trimmer on the back of the cartridge for men who have mustaches and beards.

Gillette was the first to sell a three-bladed razor, Mach3, in 1998. Five years later, Schick followed with the four-bladed Quattro.

I confess that razor commercials crack me up. The animated face and enlarged whisker, and then the succession of blades that arrive to slice the dreaded hair. The first blade arrives on the scene to tackle the whisker at the knees. The second follows with a clothesline style take-down around the neck. The third lifts the whisker up, pulling it out of the skin so that the cutting operation is performed on the part of the hair that is below the surface of the skin. The fourth blade distracts the now bleeding and dazed whisker by rubbing its shoulders and playing a Billie Holiday song...and then...drumroll...the fifth and last (for now) blade comes in like hellfire and finally axes the whisker off the face. After his work is done, the moisturizing strip leaves a trail of slippery whoknowswhat on the face to cut down on razor burn. It's all more impressive than the first Star Wars movie when we first saw it.

Fusion should hit shelves after the expected approval this fall of Gillette's acquisition by Procter & Gamble Co.

Look, I'm not saying these razors don't provide a close shave. But I am saying...enough already with the multi-blades. How many does any man need with one drag of the razor across his face? The Fusion razor and two cartridges will cost about $9.99, and Fusion Power, with one cartridge and a Duracell battery, will cost about $11.99. A four-pack of Fusion cartridges will sell for $12 to $13 and a four-pack of Fusion Power cartridges will cost $13 to $14. There is huge profit in them thar blades. I just paid around $15.00 for a pack of six blades for my razor, and I felt kind of ripped off. When did this happen? I thought.

I got back on the expensive razor wagon a while back when I shaved off my beard. But after seeing what's happened to the razor market and pricing, I've let it grow back.

01:31 PM

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Regarding Mr. Kiley's article regarding the the insanity of men's razors as exemplified by the new Gillette five blade razor. For sure, next we men will need a John Deere tractor to pull the soon to come six blade razor across our puss.

Not for me, thank you. I have inherited my father's Schick Injector Razor, vintage 1948. It has one cold steel blade that trims sideburns and devastates all whiskers brave enough to stand up. And blades are still marketed by CVS Pharmacies for about $3-4.00 for eleven blades.

Oh there might be a nick or cut from time to time, but you definitely get clean shave. And put that after shave on and you are set for the whole day.

Posted by: Matt Duff at September 15, 2005 09:47 AM

You'll see that the Onion predicted this exact thing in Feb '04. (language warning) Very funny.

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33930

Posted by: Patricia Dee at September 15, 2005 08:34 PM

David,

I was just going to write a post about the Fusion when I came across yours. You took the words out of my mouth – except that I don't wear a beard. ;-)

Good piece!

-Marc

Posted by: Marc E. Babej at September 16, 2005 02:14 PM

It's blood money, I say... the "cost per shave" index is rising faster than real estate in Silicon Valley. Where are the Japanese "second-but-better" consumer marketers when we need them so desperately now? They are busy upgrading us from Toyotas to Lexuses! Even the rapier wielding, China-sourcing, price-slashing Wal-Mart Smiley is no match -- his deep-discounting ways tremble and humble before the rapacious appetite of those extracting the last milligram of flesh in return for the "closest shave a man can get." It is time to grow back the beards: "Men of the World Unite: You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Razor Burns!!"

Posted by: Nik Dholakia at September 19, 2005 05:49 PM

It should be known that an Australian comedy group - the D-Generation - did a sketch on their program 'The Late Show' that featured a 17-blade razor. This was way back in the mid 1990's. If they only knew.....

Posted by: Swade at September 21, 2005 10:17 PM

Just the other day, I tried a Gem single edge blade in my antique Ever-Ready razor, and got a first-rate shave. Fun, too, since that antique razor looks like a museum piece, and I got it for about the cost of an M3 Power razor.

Single edge blades cost about $.50 each. They're probably worth that just because of the quantity of metal it uses. What I don't understand is why these blades are so easy to find when the razors they fit have been extinct for years. (You used to be able to send in $1 with a coupon from the back of the blade package to get a razor.)

I do have to admit that injector razors give a first-rate shave, and that I have more than one injector myself. Runor has it that the injector razor will be made once again, though probably by a niche manufacturer, and not by Schick, who seems about as obsessed as Gillette with this multi-blade mishegas.

Posted by: Paul at September 22, 2005 03:18 AM

I for one still wish Schick hadn't made the Mach3.

I was in love the FX Diamond razor. I still had a stash of the blades until a few weeks ago. They were premium priced, but the things lasted forever.

I would go so long without changing blades that when it finally got dull, I was honestly surprised when I got nics. I was like, "What the heck is that?" Oh, it's finally time to change the blade.

I hate these stupid megamultiblade things. Talk about wasteful.

Posted by: Jason Kerr at September 22, 2005 10:48 PM

It's all fine not to like the Fusion, and superficially it did appear to be just the marketing hype thing taken too far. But in fact Gillette spent over $600 million developing the razor, just like they did with Mach3 before - which is de facto the world's preferred razor.

Besides, I must say I find your complaining about the cost of shaving pretty pathetic. The new blades will sell at a fairly hefty 30% premium to today's blades; which works out to about 20 cents per shave. Personally, I think spending about 20 cents a day to save a bit of time and minimize skin irritation/damage is perfectly acceptable, and I would not even dream of saving 5 cents a day using something else if I find I prefer the Fusion. IMO Gillette makes by a mile the best razor in the world already, and the fact is that among the 9000 men who tested the upcoming model, the Fusion outperformed the Mach3, Quattro and other competitiors by the same margin (2 to 1) as the incumbent did when it was launched back in 1998.

Posted by: Dag at October 16, 2005 05:08 AM

Go get a straight razor ( they make them in stainless steel now) a brush, strop, hone, and a mug of hot water and soap.... single blade shaving at it's finest !

Try classicshaving.com for fine straight razors.

Properly cared for, a straight razor will outlast YOU...( pass it on in your will to your "little shaver") and the cost per shave becomes trifling as time goes on after your initial investment.

Posted by: David Risser at November 6, 2005 08:52 PM

David Kiley & others:

I use Mach 3 Turbo and while I agree the prices are up there, one alternative to consider is buying the cryo'd blades from http://www.greatrazors.com/, which I have found to last longer. Also, another product to try is the RazorMax system available at http://www.razormax.com. They also sell the cryo'd blades, however, if I'm not mistaken they get them from greatrazors.com.

Posted by: Korey Smith at December 24, 2005 03:49 AM

Im with David, Get a straight razor.

Unless you think you know better than each and every one of your ancestors upto and probably including your father.

Never mind the minimal maintenance, which with the help of classicshaving.com and straightrazorplace.com and razorcentral.com is no mystery. A couple of implements, some soap and a brush and your well on your way to a lifetime of enjoying shaving.

If this doesnt seem like your style, dont worry. at least there are a few of us maintaining the tradition and passing on the knowledge. Stick to your disposables...

Posted by: damian fantozzi at May 6, 2006 07:43 AM

Go on eBay and score a vintage Gillette Super Speed razor, or an adjustable Gillette FatBoy razor.

Blades are a lot cheaper and the shave is pretty darn close.

Save dollars!

Posted by: Archangel at April 5, 2007 10:29 AM


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