Sunday, September 11, 2005

Hair Razing pace of innovation

There was a time when men grew beards and had no way of being clean shaven. Then somebody invented the blade (razor blade, shaving blade). Blades ruled the shaving world for a long long time. Blades were cheap then, are cheap now enabling, truly anybody, rich or poor to sport the clean shaven look. A blade today costs about a rupee. A simple holder for it will come for under 10 odd rupees. While the blade companies went about silver edge, platinum edges, double edges and so on, somebody came up with a disposable razor, that was basically a blade with a handle. Then, there was something called a twin blade razor and its many variants. Right now, its a three blade razor.

At this pace of innovation, if we had a similar law to Moores law, we can postulate that the number of blades on shaving razors will double every 3 years. So, by the turn of the century (other things being equal), we will all sport 100 blade shaving systems (yeah, thats what they are called).

That apart, the point is that what should have cost about 50 rupees for a few weeks, has now balooned to about 600 rupees for a year. Its a classic example of how we pay so much extra for something as subjective as 'convenience', 'brand', 'trend'and so on. Gillette, for example has increased its 'share of wallet' about 1200% with its 'inventions'. Each of these new fangled systems is very well designed. Once I use 2 blade system, I cannot go back to the older disposables, it simply doesnt feel good. Once I moved to a 3 blade system and its swivelling handle, the 2 blade system is no longer good enough. Thus, I am trapped.

For 600 rupees, I can get either a three blade shaving system cartridge or get about 40 shaves from my barber. And guess who gives the best shave? The 3 blade system or my barber? The barber. And what does he use. A one rupee blade. Ever seen a barber use a "shaving system?"


arzan said...

gillette and schick already have a 4 blade system out. Ive been using one for about 7-8 months.

Nothing though like a barbers shave....

Abi said...

Um, your reference to 'blade companies': was it intentional? The sentence in which it appeared, it sort of sounded so.


Nice post, as always!

Richa said...

Nice one :)

Koos said...

In the Europe you can get about halve a shave at a barber's for the price of a nice swiveling 3 blade shaving system. And the replaceble blades are a lot cheaper (per shaving probably even cheaper than the Indian barber can do it) so this time I can't see the point :-^

But that won't stop me from checking you're blog regularly.. keep up the nice writing!

Neelakantan said...

Thanks for all the comments. Abi, blade companies are blade companies, arent they!

Koos, Of course, I agree to that, but there are two points to it.
One is that in places like India MNCs have to think different.
Two is that, Gillette and the other cos have increased their "share of wallet" by humongous amounts even using your disposable razor prices (as the equivalent to the barber in India).

Preetha said...

Good one.....

how on earth did you think of writing about "blades" buddy??

Im sure, every one will want to know ;)

Keep writing

Venus Anderson said...

Yeah the blade companies have got this all figured out. Just keep adding blades and convincing people they need it.

There are so many options out there for shaving and for leg hair removal that are much much cheaper over all than what these blade companies are selling us.

Do your research as always and save your hard earned money.