Proctor & Gamble Co. ($PG)announced that its Gillette brand will be releasing new razors that, counter to previous new product launches, won't include another blade and a higher price point. Thank G-d. We're old enough to remember when the three-blade razor was a big deal, let alone the 179-blade razors that are in the market today. Clearly PG is yet another example of a large incumbent company suffering from Innovator's Dilemma while hungry nimble startups nip at its heels. Notably, Gillette's sales fell 6% in the current quarter and U.S. sales of razorblades fell 18% YOY in the TTM. Why? Well, we have Harry's and Dollar Shave Club product users here. The big innovation? A new five-blade razor that will cost "roughly the same" as those sold by the aforementioned up-and-comers. Who ship direct-to-consumer. So, hmmm. If the cost is "roughly the same" and one can just show up in my mailbox, why would we even bother with this new product? No wonder Nelson Peltz is up in arms.
To much fanfare, Brandless launched this week armed with $35mm in fresh Series B funding. It sells household items for a flat $3 which, according to the company, reflects the elimination of a "brand tax." Nice trick. Seems strikingly similar to other stuff we've seen of late whether its Harry's or Warby Parker, aka consumer product goods that have gone after Gillette and Luxottica's hefty "goodwill" margins. And, yet, STILL have massive brands. Dollar Shave Club basically sold purely because it was a "lifestyle brand." So, it'll be interesting to see whether this works. If it does, though, it could mean more pressure on grocers and, perhaps, dollar stores...? Does disintermediation always mean bankruptcy? We'll see.