Gillette - the best a man can get, if he's more money than sense

6 August 2009

A rich, clean-shaven man, yesterday.

The first sign that times are hard in the Smith household, is that Gillette Mach 3 razors are crossed off the list for the big shop. Inevitably I'll try using the electric shaver for several days, then leave it too long until I have the beginnings of a Brian Blessed-style beard. At that point my only recourse is the blade, and I have no option but make an attempt using the wife's disposables. It's like the back room of an abattoir.

I never learn, but I can't justify spending a tenner on bloody razor blades. But it gets more ridiculous; if you want the best a man can get, the cheapest price we found for Gillette Fusion Power cartridges is £18.53 for 8 - that's £2.32 each. So it comes as no surprise that, according to Consumer Champion, the retail pricing of shaving products is under investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

The site claims that the razors cost just 5p to produce each. Of course there are plenty of products on the shelves of supermarkets that cost pennies to produce and are substantially marked up by the manufacturer, but the likes of Gillette are well-practised at selling its products as aspirational lifestyle products, rather than necessities to get the job done. You should pay more, say Gillette, because you'll be more successful in life if you do. In fact Gillette are so good at selling this concept to the gents, that in 1999 the company was valued at $43 billion, while the value of the brand  - the name above the door and what what it represents to customers - was estimated to be worth $16 billion. In other words, regardless of the product or how good it was, simply printing their name on it increased the company's value by over a third.

All of which goes to explain why the price you pay for an 8 pack of Gillette Fusion Power cartridges is a mark-up on the cost of production of over 4,500%. And if you are paying that price for a shave, Gillette also provides a service to have MUG tattooed across your forehead. But it'll cost you.

TOPICS:   Consumer Advice


  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    Maybe we should have a research article on how to use a straight blade and save money :)
  • Paul S.
    As long as you mop up and arrange the funeral afterwards.
  • kevin p.
    Or just buy them off a smack head
  • Frugal
    I looked into a straight blade, £30 for decent blade or more with leather sharpner, what put me off was the technique you needed to learn to get it right and of course ensuring you don't leave yourself gushing from your arteries.
  • Jeffrey A.
    Sweeney Todd, anyone?
  • Junkyard
    If you really are just paying through the nose for a product that costs pennies to produce, and it's all because of the name, then you should be able to locate a product from a less well-known brand which costs a fraction of the price yet performs equally well. Can someone point me to this product please?
  • Rich
    So what is the best cost/performance blade? I hate paying so much too but find it does give me the best shave.
  • Mike
    For me the fusion power blades last twice as long with the power razor, I had one given to me by my dad who got it free from gilette so I never had to pay for it but its easily better than m3 and razor.
  • jah
    Someone's got to pay for David Beckham, Roger Federer, Tiger Woods and Thierry Henry's services to advertising though, something tells me that probably works out more than the 5p to manufacture the blade!
  • Mike e.
    Safety razors, 100, £15 you can also cut up your 'lines'
  • JB
    Try Tesco Matrix 3-blade system - £2.50ish for a pack of 5.
  • Song B.
    Also, wilkinson sword disposables that have 3 blades, not the crap ones like bic, they just slice your face up. The wilkinson disposables last longer than the gilette mach 3, i find.
  • Martha F.
    Gillette's Fusion Razor cartridges four pack costs only 20p to manufacture, plus 8p for packaging. But they are sold for £9.72 - £9.44 The Dailymail did a REAL article covering this here: :) Paul Smith you missed the chance to copy & paste that here, thus claiming the credit :oops: for BW :) The products sold by Gillette and other companies cost as little as 5p to make, industry insiders have revealed. But consumers are charged up to £2.43 a piece - a mark-up of more than 4,750 per cent. Daylight robbery :(
  • Lutin
    Was in boots the other day and was looking for a new razor. Totally fed up with Gilettes prices. Wilkinson sword aren't exactly cheap either, but I can say that I bought the following and I found it very comfortable. 8 blades for £6.90, that's 86p per blade which seems decent compared to the fusion ones. Handle and 2 blades for 3.75 Replacement blades - 8 pack for 6.90
  • Captain K.
    Multiblade razors are a big rip off and if you have problems with razor burn they almost certainly make it worse. Get yourself a a Safety Razor and learn to shave properly. At first you will look like the dad character from a 70s sitcom after shaving but you'll get the hang of it eventually. Like 'Mike Hock esq' illustrates you can pick the blades up for pennies. And as well as using them for cutting your lines you can also use them to slit your wrists if it all gets too much for you.
  • Chris
    Chaps - Join the ranks of straight edge and safety razors! :D There are plenty of forums out there to help you get into more cost effective (and much better resulting) shaves... The Shaving Room is a great place to start.
  • Bill
    ha ha you use that 'a so and so, yesterday' caption below your picture. Nice one.
  • Mike H.
    Another vote for Tesco Matrix Triple Blades - do the job and do it well and at a bargainous price!!
  • Eddy
    Ive used Gillette since i started shaving at 17. Anyways as the article said times are tough and so i decided to give a cheap brand a go. i bought Asda 3blade razor for £2.50 which came with two heads. First shave was very good, clean, smooth and not burn. Second shave was good but i did nic myself which i cant remember the last time i did it. Replacment blades are only about £3 for 5 which is a steal and they are pretty good. I may one day go for a cut-throat as they are highly reccommended by the people who use them but for now and for the price im really happy with Asda 3blade razors.
  • Deepz
    There are a lot of costs companies have - not just the production costs that are here. As mentioned, marketing - they spend millions, and another one of their costs is Research and Development (making it easy to shave without learning how to cut ourselves with a cut-throat). If they did not spend money on marketing, they may lose their market share. If they did not work on the new 6 blade/ 7 blade/ 100 blade razor now, then when their competitors come the consumers (us) wouldnt want their 5 blade version and they would have nothing new to offer us. Then there are costs like HR, Finance, IT, etc. which add up, but I do not think these were taken into consideration when making the blades. If they were that profitable, then why not buy shares in their company and take a slice of their profits (which you could then use to buy the blades for free)...
  • zeddy
    Fuck all that. I grew a beard.
  • Streetwear
    I have to give another check Mark for the Tesco Matrix triple blade razor. I've been using them and they work fantastic, and they are less than half the price of the other blades. So if you want a good blade for less money it's worth at least trying.

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