Dear Gillette Corporation,

You got me. I’ll buy your products till I die. I shave everyday. I use your products every day and I have no desire to switch to a competitor product. But can you please stop with the intelligence insulting marketing???

I’m 29 years old. I’ve been buying your shaving products for 16 years. In that time I’ve seen all your product iterations, and I’ve observed all your marketing campaigns. In that time, the razor product HAS NOT CHANGED at all. At least not in ways that normal people care about. Its still a stick with metal strips on the end. One of the least interesting consumable items people use daily. But for some reason, you’re continuously trying to tell me how the new improved model is better and more exciting. Bollocks! Changing the number of metal strips in a razor IS NOT INNOVATION. Oh now it has four! Oh look a new innovation: 5 strips. Now it has 3 strips. Stop! Just stop already. Nobody cares! From what I can tell, you absolutely nailed this product category back in early 90s (maybe even earlier, but I wasn’t paying attention back then). Why do you continue to add and subtract metal strips 15 years later. Why? What conceivable value is there in iterating so often? You’re not selling computers. Razor technology is not powering forward in giant leaps and bounds: its a stick and and some metal strips!

Just once, I’d like to go the supermarket and see your product packaging that says something like “Gillette Razor – The same as it was last year”. I’d buy that and be satisfied for 2 reasons. One, I’d know what I was getting. My razor worked fine last year, so it will work fine this year. Two, I won’t need to be anxious that the metal strips won’t match my stick. See that’s the other thing that annoys me about your so called product innovations: You keep changing the connectors between the stick and the metal strips. Is that really necessary? I’m assuming good faith here of course. You would never maliciously stop selling one type of metal strips so you could force your customers to spend another $15 on a new stick would you? Just stop with the changing connectors. Standardise on one, make them interchangeable and then stop “innovating”. And just so you know, I hedge against you changing the connectors too often. When I buy the metal strips, I stockpile them. Sometimes as much as 24 months worth. That’s right! You heard me, I’m your worst nightmare. I stockpile so that I know that if you change the connector I wont be left high and dry like I was back when I was a broke uni student.

What’s with the marketing? I mean seriously, a jet plane? What marketing genius had the chutzpah to go from razor to mach3-jet plane? Its a STICK and some METAL STRIPS!

Jet plane: exciting, interesting, fast, expensive. Razor: boring, slow, completely and utterly mundane, expensive. At least you totally got it right on the expensive bit eh?

Heres what I think you should do. 1. Standardise the connectors. 2. Decide on the ultimate razor. 3. Call it the “Gillette Razor”. 4. Redeploy all the materials scientists to important projects and sack all the marketing people. You won’t need them when you’re only marketing message is “Gillette Razor: Still as good as it was last year and the year before that”. When I say “important projects” I don’t mean other personal grooming products and all that meaningless crap. I’m talking about, you know, things like an unbreakable hand crank mobile phone for the developing world. Or, energy efficient water purification systems that can be deployed in situ next to wells in African villages. There is an endless list of products out there to be invented and improved that could materially impact the quality of life (and the length of life) of the poorest half of the worlds population but all the worlds scientists are busying adding and subtracting metal strips.

When I say, stop “innovating”, I don’t mean stop completely, I mean just do it periodically. Like once a decade or so. You could get a couple of materials scientists and check to see if anything has changed with plastics and metals in the intervening 10 years. If there has been some improvements you should incorporate them in the Gillette Razor, and then move on.

Sincerely, Your loyal customer,


Blog readers: next weeks off-topic posting will be entitled “Why I hate all the toothpaste companies for making me choose between 84 different kinds of toothpaste”