Beard Science: Razor Coupons and Close Shaves
Beard Science: Razor Coupons and Close Shaves
Given sufficient resources, marketing gurus may shape markets. We're taught in MBA school that filling a niche or identifying a market might be the first step in building a business. Creating a niche also becomes an option if your advertising budget extends into 7 figures.
Razor Coupons: Mark it up and mark it back down
Coupons, particularly online coupons have become more like currency than discount. Although they're purchased at the pharmacy, consider yourself taken to the cleaners should you pay for a razor without some type of manufacturer's coupon. Don't walk into Walgreen's without printing an online coupon or clipping a coupon from the Sunday newspaper.
it's already built into the sale price. Razor vendors no longer engage in pricing guesswork. They know (in real-time) how many units were purchased at a discount and in what 9-digit zip code the purchases were made. Their databases runneth over with absurdly useful information.
The MBAs know how our minds work. On the first day of MBA school they learn the number one maxim of selling:
Everybody wants to think they are getting a bargain.
Corollary 1: Nobody wants to pay retail. Alka-seltzer tablets at midnight might justify a full-price purchase, but a planned trip to the grocery store usually includes a coupon or three. The little strips of paper rarely disrupt checkout lines these days; they have custom bar codes. Online coupons and newspaper coupons can be scanned as easily as the razors they are discounting. The remaining stigma attached to coupon-based purchases can be easily avoided by downloading discounts onto a loyalty card rather than printing them on paper. The most macho of men have loyalty cards on their Harley Davidson key-chains.
Economy of Scale
Garish packaging costs big bucks. Engineers, psychologists, graphics designers, and people with MBAs work in concert to devise wrappers. The enclosed product might be just as good as the generically wrapped item on the lower shelf, but image-conscious consumers tend to reach for shiny objects at eye level. We know this to be true because Apple is still in business.
Don't these trinkets compete on price rather than features? Isn't there a 5 bladed generic razor that shaves almost as close but costs less? Doesn't the packaging pump up the retail price?
Not so much.
A manufacturer who sells 1 million units a month has the luxury of amortizing his luxury costs over the entire sales volume. In other words, it makes sense to spend $5 million on packaging research and development when the cost added to each unit becomes trivial. An also-ran manufacturer selling 10K units a month would be killed by a similar exorbitant investment in packaging. As they say in the business, you gotta spend money to make money.
Beard Science and Razor Coupons: Do we suffer from pogonophobia ?
How many consumers break out in a cold sweat at the sight of facial hair? Thankfully, our obsession for smooth skin does not typically induce physical distress, but pogonophobia surely drives a few of the unfortunate shoppers who frequent the razor aisle. "An abnormal fear or dislike of beards" is impetus enough to download an online coupon and drop a few Gillette Fusions in the shopping cart. None of us wants to look in the mirror and see 5 o'clock stubble at 1:30, but some of us tend to get downright ill. Don't linger too long in front of the Schick Hydro display; fellow shoppers might suffer from pogonophobia.
Living in the Throw-Away Society
Disposable razors proliferate: a Venus, Quattro, Hydro, Mach 3, or Fusion feels good in the hand but persists in the landfill. It's not easy being green when refills can't be had. Manufacturers control the market by releasing newer and more colorful shaving devices, but the new stuff won't play with the old stuff. 5 blades is better than 4 blades in many subtle ways, but those advantages might accrue to the seller rather than the buyer.
How much actual shaving occurs between the 4th and 5th blades? When the first blade dulls, can it be swapped out exclusively of the 2nd through 5th blades? We don't see coupons for individual blades; entire blade assemblies are the only option on store shelves. Purchase refills with coupons, but consider where the detritus ends up.
Do not manually dismantle blade cartridges, even in the name of saving the Earth. Blades are designed and intended to cut stuff. The stated purpose of a razor blade is to slice cleanly. Loose blades will slice more than beard hairs. Manufacturers cannot be held responsible for personal injuries that might occur when their products are misused. Packaging, no matter how garish, clearly indicates the intended purpose of the devices.