The Shaving Racket -- How Are Gillette and Schick Getting Away with Ripoff Razors?
Continued from previous page
The official unemployment rate has held over 9.5 percent for over a year, and those are the baked numbers. Real unemployment numbers are higher. Consumers are having to pull back on the goods they used to gobble like pills. Five-blade razors with colored plastic grips, sold separately (and some argue exorbitantly) from replacement razors, suddenly seem like surrealism. But it's more like consumption stripped of marketing: You use a razor to shave things. It's not rocketry. You just unplugged from the matrix, which demands dumb hyperconsumption. "The final price is set by the retailer," P&G's spokesperson explained of its products and pricing.
A recent report on the global grooming market pegged its possibility at $33.3 billion by 2015, but that's dependent on "technological innovations, a willingness from consumers to start using permanent razors again and also an increase in the popularity of male specific magazines," the latter of which is hard to do in a permanently smaller industry. So the smart bet is still on the multinationals, especially when it comes to swallowing the small fries. But in a greatly reoriented market, whose perception of the importance of high-tech razors with five blades is more diminished than before.
But our ancestors shaved with straight razors, a masculine ritual that survives to this day as a healthy market, and is arguably as effective as using disposable or permanent razors. Of course, straight razors resemble fearsome weaponry, which is probably why some jurisdictions ban their use, a curious legislative hiccup than certainly aids razors-and-blades heavyweights like P&G and Energizer. Schick's Quattro and P&G's Fusion ProGlide are similarly masculine rituals that brand both your identity and your wallet. And you need those. Who knows? They might not grow back.