Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Thoughts and input on anything related to wet shaving or men's grooming.
harper
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by harper » Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:50 pm

Brutus: why is simplicity the greatest form of sophistication? If you are referring to shaving, a rock is simpler than the simplest razor but rocks were apparently used in
the stone age(s) and I don't think they are very sophisticated. Also, if it were true then King C. would never have brought his products on the market and drove the straight razor producers out of business ... except for a miniscule number that survive ... I suspect as a sideline.

It's like saying less is more ... sounds great in architecture but not so great when it comes to money.

There is nothing simpler than a straight line but I prefer women who are not that simple just as I prefer razors and blades to straights. I have never tried a rock.

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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by 95% » Fri Jul 11, 2014 2:23 pm

To further drive home Harper's point, note the elegant simplicity of this antique surgical drill used for brain surgery:
Trepanation_illustration_France_1800s (300x557).jpg
Trepanation_illustration_France_1800s (300x557).jpg (51.23 KiB) Viewed 2893 times
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by Squire » Fri Jul 11, 2014 5:48 pm

I believe in real life they had the guy strapped down tightly before using a trepan brace.
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by Brutus » Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:15 am

Squire wrote:I believe in real life they had the guy strapped down tightly before using a trepan brace.
Leaving alone the fact that some of the most important developments since these days were improvements in anesthesiology; if you look at how little the basic surgical instruments have changed since this time - or the start of the Industrial Age - and compare it against how much cartridge razors have changed since the arrival of the Gillette Trac II in 1971, it gives you an idea what marketing opportunities Gillette must have missed by not entering the market for surgical instruments.


Just imagine: "Gillette - the best hole in the head a man can get."
Sounds catchy, doesn't it?




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B.
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by Brutus » Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:40 am

harper wrote:Brutus: why is simplicity the greatest form of sophistication?
By coining this phrase, Leonardo da Vinci was trying to caution people not to get carried away with overly complex designs.

Let me explain this to you without getting drawn into a long-winded debate:
It has to do with the law of diminishing returns; or in engineering terms "tradeoffs".

It refers to the fact that to get an improvement, the required effort to get an improvement tends to increase with each step and the achieved improvement as such tends to decrease with each step.

In the end you put in an inordinate amount of effort and expense to achieve a minuscule - possibly even negative - improvement. Engineers try to find the "sweet spot" where the real improvement will justify the additional expense, but the same cannot be said for marketing people who are constantly on the look-out for another hype.

Taking the example of the wet-shaving; I cannot seriously debate with someone that a $4.06 Fusion ProGlide blade shaves 40 times better than a Derby DE blade at 10 cents.

But I will concede that in a consumer society it's all about choice and if someone just loves to spend $32.98 for 8 Gillette cartridges, then that's fine by me.



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B.
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Last edited by Brutus on Sat Jul 12, 2014 6:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by 95% » Sat Jul 12, 2014 3:47 am

The market is a crazy place, no doubt about it. Chelsea Clinton gets paid $75,000 for an hour's speech. I'm sure she's an estimable young lady, but $75K?
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by harper » Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:07 am

Brutus, an elegant response and in the theoretical world nobody can cavil with it. I had heard the statement before (same with less is more, which was not coined by Mies) but did not know the author. I thank you for it and also avoiding debating because we could then go on to the immense engineering complexity of making things simple, simple to use, simple to manufacture, etc. I am two weeks from being 84 and we would never finish in my lifetime.

However, when price enters the equation then we have a value judgment and not an engineering matter. I am not an engineer and have spent much of my working life in the marketing of products (which involves value judgments) and or corporations after they had already been designed/created so I tend to think in terms of marketing and not in how things are made. It's good to be reminded that there is always another side to things.

That occasionally hits me right between the eyes when I see how simple the solutions are sometimes for complex products/problems. Conversely, I am equally astonished when some firms (Mercedes was notorious for this until recent years) over-engineer their products and ignore the simpler and equally effective solutions.

And then I am even more astonished when something like smart phones come along and fill or create a need I didn't even know I had.

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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by harper » Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:12 am

Porter: Value is what people are willing to pay for something. Is Chelsea Clinton worth $75,000 a speech? No, not on the surface but things can sometimes be worth far more than they appear. A client of mine once was holding a public event and wanted to put itself on the North American stage. I recommended we hire Henry Kissinger to be our keynote speaker. They did and he was. Was he worth the $25,000 we paid at the time? By all means.

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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by 95% » Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:56 am

That's a killer response, Bob. I applaud your shrewd business judgment in recommending Henry Kissinger to give the keynote address.

I just wish I could forgive Kissinger, whose intellect I greatly admire, for participating in such an act of prostitu....er, crass commercialism. But it seems that most former luminaries of government do it, so he wasn't breaking any rules.
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by gil3591 » Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:17 pm

i was smiling to read of the new, never ending razor design from the big G. then i read gordon's statement suggesting one blade. now THAT may have been interesting. a razor which performs as a 5 blade but with only one blade! then my bubble was burst and i'm back to ho-hum ;-)
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by brothers » Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:07 pm

Re: Gillette, and the subject of this very interesting and attractive thread. On one hand we see Gillette Guard for the gents in India, presumably, and the market that represents. Then, on the other hand we see the Fusion Power Pivot Ball 5 blade circus and whatever market that might be directed at. This is the ultra cheap/simple, single blade vs. 5 blades mounted on what seems to be something of a "player piano", with all the moving parts and Captain Whiz-Bang or Rube Goldburg smoke and mirrors going on. Not to mention the prices of the razors and the replacement cartridges. I think this would merit something between a doctoral thesis or at least a university class offering to explore the merits of these seemingly contradictory concepts from the same company. Both razors from the same corporate think tank, a guy can shave with either and walk away with a fine shave every day, but worlds apart in simplicity and complexity. Something to think about?
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by harper » Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:43 am

Gary: Nothing really to think about except economics. Indians by and large cannot afford to pay the prices of cartridges so Gillette saw an opportunity and filled a hole by bringing out the Guard. Many shavers in North America and much of Europe can and do pay the prices charged for cartridge razors so Gillette at this time has no incentive to bring out a reportedly very good but much less expensive and less profitable for Gillette product. As well, Gillette, as any marketer would, gets shavers using Gillette products at an early stage and it is likely they will stay with Gillette products for most of their shaving life. Most shaves don't think like some members of SMF ... an almost infinitely small number of shavers and not enough to affect Gillette in any of its markets, who don't use cartridge razors for a variety of reasons, some valid, some suspect. The majority of members of SMF apparently are DE shavers so they seem to object to Gillette's razor and blade marketing and products. This brings up a lot of questions that few of us are qualified to answer about capitalist morality but that's an entirely different subject. As I have said many times on this forum, Gillette, is a profit making corporation and not a charity. The company has muscle in its markets because by and large people like its products. The company did not come to dominate the male shaving market by producing either inferior products or by losing money on them. And like any other leading company, Gillette can lose its market dominance if some other company comes out with products that more shavers want to use. I don't really care who makes the razors and blades/cartridges I use as long as they do the job. For me at this time, Gillette products fill the bill but if someone came out with a product I found better I would change on a dime.

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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by harper » Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:26 am

Gary, one other comment to your excellent comment: when I DE shave I use Derby blades. They are reportedly not as good or high-tech, high-end or as fashionable as other blades ... and I have tried several of the highly-touted brands ... but they are my choice because they work best for me. I have no idea who owns the company but I think they are made in Turkey. So much for brand loyalty. Someone once said (I can't remember who) that no company is more vulnerable than the one dominating the market. How true as GM and others know so well.

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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by 95% » Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:31 am

I agree with Bob on all points. To me the greater mystery is why Gillette hasn't discovered the marketing potential of high-quality shaving creams like the ones we enjoy in this forum. Every aerosol product they have ever sold has the same vaguely minty or herbal fragrance, the same as 99% of all shampoos, hair conditioners, skin lotions, and bath soaps sold in drugstores. Why are they so afraid of sandalwood, lavender, lime, violet, rose, and so on? They must be using the most hide- bound, unimaginative focus groups on the planet.
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by Squire » Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:04 am

Perhaps their approach is why compete with your own product.
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by 95% » Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:46 am

But since people will pay the big bucks for cartridges, wouldn't they also pay more for a decent-smelling shave cream?
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by Squire » Sun Jul 13, 2014 8:01 am

We think they would but I suspect Gillette decision makers believe the one they've got is the best and to create others would imply that it's not. That or they shave with electrics and haven't a clue.
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by 95% » Sun Jul 13, 2014 8:16 am

Another possible reason is that Gillette is committed to the aerosol dispenser, and it may not be feasible to reproduce the quality of a 3T cream in a can.
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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by harper » Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:35 am

95%, Squire, etc.

Most likely Gillette is not interested in the quality shave cream, etc. market from a profit standpoint because it is probably very tiny in comparison to the market it already succeeds in. When I was doing work for Gillette the toiletries operations were doing very well and I assume they still are. For my own interest I have tried without any success to find out just how large a company George F. Trumper is and I have no idea. Trumper has international distribution of its product but this doesn't really tell much because they may sell only four tubes of shaving cream a year in some places but are still in the market. I am curious because I like Trumper products and would like to see wider distribution of them for my own convenience.

There are good marketing reputation reasons for Gillette not moving into other areas as well: Gillette is the leading brand name for shaving and related products but it is not a seen as a high-end prestige name and it is very difficult to go "up market" when your product is not associated with being an "up market" product. People will not pay a premium for Gillette branded products because they carry the Gillette name and to the consumer there is no perceived additional benefit in buying a more expensive Gillette product. Gillette knows its markets and dominates a number of them and its successes are best achieved in areas where it is well established and its products are well accepted by a large number of users.

It is, of course, much easier to go "down market" with a product and capitalize on the prestige of the "up market" product ... Mercedes Benz being a classic example with the introduction some years ago of the 190 model. Still, there was some consumer resistance and the company had to run advertising saying that the 190 models were no less a Mercedes than the more expensive models. Gillette is already pretty much a "down market" mass consumer product so there is no place for them to go in that direction except for line extensions which they already do and private label products (which they may be in for all I know but that is often determined by capacity utilization as well as sales). Additionally, if they were to cheapen their Gillette product line it is not likely they would sell more but would damage their reputation.

Gillette has the strongest drug store equity of any shaving and (some) personal care products company in North America and in some parts of the world but Gillette management has not been hugely successful as far as I know in transferring that equity to other products. They have marketed smoke detectors, other products such as disposable cigarette lighters, Dupont pens (if I pay $200 for a pen I don't want to think of it as a Gillette pen so they wisely kept their name off, etc.) but were exceptionally successful for a time with Paper Mate. I don't know how successful they have been in selling products to women but I assume they have been successful because they have been in that market for a good many years. What else they may be into these days would be only a guess and guessing is even harder now that Gillette is part of P&G, a notoriously difficult company to get information out of.

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Re: Gillette Pivot Ball Razor - Stop The Insanity Already

Post by 95% » Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:29 pm

Excellent post, Bob. My question is: why is the range of fragrances in American skincare/bathing consumables so narrow? Almost literally, everything sold at the drugstore smells the same. I just don't get it. Thank goodness we have the English and the French and the Germans and the Italians to provide us with a great variety of alternatives.
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