05-02-2017, 12:28 PM
#1
  • Mouser
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  • Forest City, Florida U.S.A.
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I thought I'd post these articles, I found them interesting. I can't seem to find one that pointed out Gillette's miscalculation on what the shavers of that time considered important, convenience. It's why canned goo won out over traditional brush and soap/cream and why they went wrong by not introducing stainless blades earlier. They bet on men wanting sharper blades over longer lasting ones. Carbon blades can last longer than most people used them for but that required some post shave care. Convenience again.

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Britain: The Reluctant Millionaires

Friday, May 01, 1964
"We are rather reluctant about becoming millionaires," says Peter Randolph, the managing director of Britain's Wilkinson Sword Ltd. " It is prob ably going to be more worry than it is worth." Regret it as he may, Randolph will have to grin and bear it. This week Wilkinson stock goes on sale on the London Exchange for the first time —and the value of the shares retained by Randolph and other members of the family-owned company will make them all millionaires overnight. To the owners of 192-year-old Wilkinson, this is only the latest indignity heaped upon them as a result of the firm's success with the stainless steel razor blade — the edge that has touched off bitter competition in the U.S. and Europe for a new and promising market.
Word-of-Mouth. Before introducing the Super Sword, its stainless blade, Wilkinson was a little-known firm that had long been doing a comfortable business in ceremonial swords, bulletproof vests for fearful dictators and statesmen, and fire-detection equipment. It was pinning its future growth on a new line of high quality garden tools, had no desire to excite a battle of blades. But no matter how much it tried to down play its stainless blades and use them only to promote its tools, Wilkinson's blade sales took off in a flurry of word-of-mouth advertising. They now have 40% of the total British market and a 5% edge in the $184 million U.S. blade market. Super Swords account for 80% of Wilkinson's pretax profits, which in four years have jumped tenfold to an expected $9.1 million this year.
What Wilkinson feared most has happened. Its success first lured such U.S. blademakers as Schick (Krona Plus) and American Safety Razor (Personna and PAL) into the stainless field. Then came Gillette, with its great bulk, big name and huge marketing facilities. By now reluctantly committed to a fight it did not want, Wilkinson set up additional manufacturing operations in Britain, Germany, Canada and the U.S. Needing new capital to pay for this expansion, it brushed aside more than 1,000 offers from outside firms to merge or associate with it in favor of putting its stock up for sale. Although family interests will still retain a 71% control, the stock offering should yield nearly $15 million. "This share marketing is rather like leaving school," laments Randolph. "It is inevitable, but you regret it in a way."

New Way to Cut. Gillette is not much happier than Wilkinson about the stainless revolution. The blades have given its competitors a new way to cut into the Boston blademaker's grip on the U.S. market; Gillette's market share has dropped from 72% to 57%, and profits in the first quarter slid 22% to $8.3 million. With a massive advertising onslaught, Gillette is regaining some of its lost ground, but the whole industry is worried about the stainless blades, which are grabbing an ever-widening share of the U.S. market. The companies making them fear that their success may eventually mean a drop in the total dollar sales of blades. After all, the stainless blades give anywhere from two to ten times more shaves than the old kind, and men who average twelve shaves on a blade will obviously buy fewer than the industry wants to sell.

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 05-02-2017, 12:33 PM
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World Business: The Blade Battle

Friday, Jan. 29, 1965



While the safety razor and the electric shaver have thoroughly conquered the U.S., many Europeans still strop their own razors or visit a barber for a shave. This naturally makes Europe highly attractive to the world's razor-blade makers. Throat-cutting competition for the market is raging between Boston-based Gillette Co., world's biggest producer, and Britain's Wilkinson Sword Ltd., whose introduction of the long-lasting stainless-steel blade changed the whole nature of the market (TIME, May 1). Stainless blades now account for almost 70% of British blade sales, 35% of the German market, and are increasing fast in other countries as delighted shavers try them. So far, smaller Wilkinson has been holding its own against Gillette.
Badly Nicked. Last week Gillette started distribution in Britain of a new stainless blade that will sell for less than both present Gillette and Wilkinson blades.* Gillette's new Seven O'Clock, which sold under that name in traditional carbon steel, will be 14¢ less for a five-pack than Gillette's premium Silver stainless or Wilkinson Super Sword-Edge. By bringing out an established name in stainless, Gillette hopes to hold the old Seven O'Clock market while luring away Wilkinson shavers who never tried Gillette's Silver blades. In Germany, Gillette has also switched a well-known Gillette blade name Rotbart (red beard) to stainless, hoping to beard Wilkinson in the same fashion.
Gillette needs a breakthrough. Unlike Wilkinson, which makes only stainless blades, Gillette frequently has to fill one pocket from another as customers switch from its carbon blades to its stainless. This shift, along with high promotion costs for the new blades, has badly nicked Gillette profits. From record 1962 earnings ($45.3 million) the company slipped 8% in 1963 despite higher sales, lost another 11.5% last year. Gillette's British subsidiary cut its employee force 5% last summer, discontinued longtime fair-trade prices on blades and hiked retailer discounts to stimulate sales.
Wary Watching. The new marketing moves, Gillette feels, will once more give earnings that old smooth feeling. Even so, it warily watches Wilkinson, which now sells in 50 countries (v. Gillette's more than 100) and quietly slipped into France recently with low-key ads that announced: "Elle est arrivée—the Wilkinson Super Sword." In both France and Italy, Gillette produces lower-priced brands similar to Seven O'Clock that will be converted to stainless if the war heats up. Meanwhile, it receives royalties regularly from Wilkinson, whose blades and bustling business are based on a 1959 Gillette patent ignored until Wilkinson came along.

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 05-02-2017, 12:35 PM
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World Business: Goliath Has the Upper Sword

Friday, Jan. 07, 1966



Soon after Britain's tiny Wilkinson Sword Ltd. began selling stainless-steel razor blades in 1961, it captured 30% of the British blade market, dominated by Boston's slow-moving Gillette Co. It then moved into the U.S. and bravely challenged Gillette on its home ground. By last year Wilkinson had moved into 50 countries, run up a 1964 pretax profit of $9.8 million and made confident predictions of a 40% sales increase in 1965. It began to look as if tiny David were slaying the Gillette Goliath.
Things have not worked out that way. Wilkinson's sales in 1965 rose about 25%, but its profits are actually down 43% to $5.6 million. Overseas expansion has proved far more costly than Wilkinson executives expected. Last month Wilkinson laid off 250 of its 3,000 employees, is now fighting to stay alive in its home market. London is buzzing with rumors that Gillette is negotiating a takeover of Wilkinson. The rumors are denied by both companies, but they have not given any lift to the 193-year-old saber manufacturer, whose shares have slid from $7.56 when they were publicly issued in April 1964 to $3.50 last week.

Gillette began to fight back in earnest in December 1963, when it entered the British stainless-blade market, launched a major new salvo last September with a massively advertised new blade coating named "Microchrome EB-7." Wilkinson, whose ads seem designed to sell swords as much as blades, still is holding on to its 52% share of the British stain less market, but it has had to lay out needed cash to double its advertising spending. "We made certain forecasts and geared our output to them," says Managing Director Roy Randolph. "Well, it has proved more difficult than we expected. Believe me, though, we don't intend to stand still."

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 05-02-2017, 04:52 PM
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Super interesting. Thanks.


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 05-03-2017, 04:14 AM
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Sorry about the state of that first post. I had figured it out by the second one but wasn't about to go back and repost it.

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 05-03-2017, 05:15 PM
#6
  • chazt
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Interesting reads. Thanks for sharing Smile

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