After years of trying to beat each other by selling more expensive, fancier, gel-filled, battery-powered, car-washing, lost-key-finding razors, Schick and Gillette are now duking it out in the more affordable realm of subscription blade plans. Not only is Schick now selling its own blades by mail; it’s selling blades that fit on Gillette’s handles but cost less.
Shick, owned by Edgewell Personal Care, is currently the No. 2 U.S. brand behind Gillette. And with a $3 billion battle for men’s faces on the line, it’s willing to try something new: The Schick Hydro shave plans allow customers to set up automatic razor refills, depending on how often they shave.
“Men are creatures of habit, and anything we can do to lower the barrier of entry to try our product will be helpful,” Patrick Kane, who runs the men’s shave business for Edgewell, told The Wall Street Journal.
Along with refills for Schick’s razors, customers can get Hydro Connect blades that work with Gillette’s Mach 3 or Fusion razors, with refills costing from $1.78 to $3.33 depending on the type of blade and number of refills in the package.
In comparison, Gillette’s on-demand subscription service sells a five-pack of Mach 3 refills for $2.60 per cartridge and a Fusion four-pack for $5.36 per cartridge with the fourth shipment free, notes the WSJ.
It seems everyone is offering some kind of subscription service: Dollar Shave Club, now owned by Unilever, first launched in 2012, followed by Harry’s.
Gillette has also had some kind of subscription service since 2014, but after seeing its U.S. market share fall from 70% in 2011 to 54% last year, the company is trying even harder: It recently overhauled that service with a new on-demand option that lets customers order razors by text, or subscribe to get every fourth order for free. Gillette also recently slashed prices across the board.
As for why Edgewell waited so long to join the online fray, years after its competitors, the company said it just wasn’t ready until now. Edgewell contends that it needed time to figure out a more flexible plan than what Dollar Shave Club and others have offered.
“We didn’t think there was an advantage to just throwing our products out there, we needed to provide something that’s unique,” an Edgewell spokesman told the WSJ. “It’s not a secret that the shave clubs have not made money, and we need to make money.”