Recently I got a package in the mail from Safeway, the local supermarket. It was the first time I got a package from them, I opened it, hoping it was cash, but it wasn't. It was the Schick Quattro, the new razor. They wanted me to try it.
Shaving is a curse for men, but it is a worse curse if you don't need to shave. Nonetheless, the experience requires you to cut the top layer of your skin, taking with it growing hair. Early in history this was nontrivial, you had to carefully put the razor blade in the razor, screw the top and very carefully shave. Or if you used the hand blade, boy you could cut off your ear if you're not careful. It got easier over time, you got the disposables and then the Gillette razor. It was a big deal then.
Few years later, the Gillete Sensor showed up with the double blade. Boy that was innovation. The first blade cuts the hair and the second blade cuts the little piece that's pulled by the first blade thereby giving you a closer shave that women find irresistable.
I stopped right there. I still use the Gillette Sensor (Excel now) and it does the job. I get very happy when next gen stuff comes out because that will mean cheaper shaving for me most likely. Anyway then the Mach3 came out. Everybody had to have one, I have one too, but only use it rarely, I think it's in my travel bag. OK, so what's the story here? Three is greater than two, so does it really mean it is a better shave? I think it's pushing it. What really happens there? What the first blade AND the second blade misses, the third gets? Makes it sound like ten years ago people didn't know how to shave, and looked like they have a 5 o'clock shadow at 7:00 am? I don't think so. But they sold well, hats off to Gillete. Then they came up with the battery powered one which I thought was real genius going after the electric razor crowd. Gillette gets an A.
Enter Schick. What do they come up with? What strategic product management meeting resulted in the brilliant idea that said, "Hey lets come up with four blades? That's surely going to be better. If they bought three, they'll buy four. " Sounded a lot like that movie where one guy decides to make the video, "7 minute abs" which would blow away "8 minute abs" right out of business. Why cut my skin with 4 blades when 2 does the job? Think of the irritation on your skin. If you are 30 years old today, with 4 blades vs 2, in 20 years, you'll be 50 but with skin as tarnished as a 70 year old. Did Schick do long term studies on the four blades? I highly doubt that. So that is the first marketing mistake.
I heard Gillete will come up with 5. I sincerely hope they don't. Because then the geniuses at Shick will come up with six. The first blade cuts the hair, the second cuts it a little more, the third finishes off the root and takes part of your skin, the fourth eats into your epithelial tissue, the fifth takes care of your sweat glands forever and the sixth gently numbs the nerves so you don't feel pain inflicted by the first five... But what makes it even worse is the name. Hmm, my product has four blades, so let's call it: Quattro! This is just brilliant. I heard Schick paid $4M dollars to a branding agency to come up with the name. So, so creative. I would never have thought about it. Never done before, great job.
I want all of you who use the four blades to imagine an ad, where a graphics animation is shown of 4 blades going over 1 piece of hair. One, then another, then another, then another in slow motion? Would you still use it after picturing that in your heads? Poor little hair, taking all that abuse... So there you have it. To fight Gillete they decided to put four blades and call it Quattro.
I bet it will be a failure.