Hipsters are killing American razor sales

Their stubborn refusal to shave off stylish facial hair and stubble has Schick and Gillette worried. But those brands may have dug their own graves.

By Jason Notte Aug 5, 2013 10:00AM
Portrait of red haired man with beard
© Jake Curtis/Getty ImagesHope you really like that handlebar mustache and set of pork-chop sideburns, Mr. Vest-Clad Washboard-Playing Mixologist, because they're killing multinational corporations' bottom lines.

Sneer from atop your fixed-gear bike and try to drown it all out with original 7-inch vinyl Happy Mondays singles, but your wall of feeble aesthetic stereotypes shouldn't prevent you from bearing the blame for lost profits on your plaid, suspender-laden shoulders.

With Gillette maker Procter & Gamble (PG) complaining that razor sales are falling in developed countries and Schick parent company Energizer (ENR) bemoaning a 10% drop in razor sales in the past year alone, Bloomberg Businessweek posits that the source of these woes is the whiskered face of Hipster America.

Slowly replacing the hippie as the target of scorn for things other Americans don't like or understand, hipsters and their elaborate facial hair have fallen right in the cross hairs of international market research firm Euromonitor. The group says hipsters have helped create a "vogue for stubble" and a "growing acceptance of the unshaven look in the workplace" that is dragging down razor sales that relatively "nonhairy" China can't compensate for.

But is it really the fault of some kung-fu marathon-watching, "Super Mario Bros. 2"-playing, bourbon-aged-beer-drinking bogeyman? Or is the real culprit staring right into razor-making conglomerates' shaving mirror?

The razor companies have been trying to sell Americans on the idea that more razors are better for so long that a 1975 "Saturday Night Live" skit about the Triple-Trac razor eventually led to Gillette's Mach 3. Meanwhile, a 2000 spoof featuring Gillette's Platinum Mach 14 doesn't seem far off the mark in a six-blade reality.

As both the blades and their prices have increased, the American shaver has sought other options. Bloomberg Businessweek notes that post-recession shavers have flocked to private labels such as Dollar Shave Club and Manpacks, whose cheap, generic razors account for roughly 4% of the U.S. market. More follicle-savvy face scapers, meanwhile, have stepped up to boutique sellers like The Art of Shaving, which stresses durable, fashionable razors over disposables.

Besides, both Schick and Gillette are actively, desperately pursuing the hipster market. The problem with selling electric razors such as Gillette's ProGlide Styler -- which comes with its own hipster facial hair cheat sheet -- is that you can't bleed a customer for replacement blades for years. Yeah, the penchant for reclaimed and sustainable goods just happens to be a hipster stereotype that's true.

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Aug 5, 2013 10:50AM
It's hard to feel bad for Gillette or Schick when they charge appox. $16 for a pack of 4 replacement razors.  Their prices are astronomical!
Aug 5, 2013 10:53AM

Hipsters are not killing sales. It is the absolutely ridiculous prices the blade refills cost. Are you freaking kidding me! A package typically costs $15-$35 dollars and disposables just plain SUCK.


My skin is too sensitive for the lawn rakes that BIC sells and I have tried the other cheaper disposable and refills and they are pathetic.


Keep the prices higher than petrol (comparably) and we will all look like Chewy or Chaka.


Do manufactures do any user polls and/or listen to their customer base????????

Aug 5, 2013 11:20AM
The companys are simply overpricing theirselves out of business!
Aug 5, 2013 10:55AM
They could be helping but HEY have you checked out the price of razor blades lately,,,,  even the cheap ones aren't so cheap anymore,  and shaving cream,, how about the price of a shave and hair cut at a barber shop,,, 
Aug 5, 2013 10:59AM
I've gone retro, I use a double edged razor and shave soap. It's much cheaper than paying 2 or 3 dollars a blade and it works just as well.
Aug 5, 2013 11:15AM
4 dollars each for a blade that cant cost 10 cents to make, poor companies screw them
Aug 5, 2013 11:16AM
They failed eco 102. If you don't price an item right you lose share. Time for P&G to get the razor out cut off all the executives heads in that division.
Aug 5, 2013 11:24AM
Yes, but now everyone shaves their pubes so it should balance out.
Aug 5, 2013 10:34AM
I've been using a trimmer to shave for years now.  I prefer the 5-o'clock shadow look and I've saved hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in the process.
Aug 5, 2013 11:10AM
They are affecting razor sales? So what are you asking then, they cut their beards so as to keep them in business? Give me a break. 
Aug 5, 2013 11:13AM
The manufacturers put so much damn gel on the razor so that they wear out so quickly that it tricks you in to believing that the razor is dull and needs to be thrown away.  I have literally re-used the same razor for 6 months and I always get a close shave.  The razors don't wear down, but the manufacturers would like you to believe they do.  Throw away your shaving cream, and use either hair conditioner, or lather your favorite soap.  The shaving creams intentionally dry your skin so it makes it more difficult to shave.
Aug 5, 2013 11:31AM
The cost of replacement cartriges is obcene.  I have to shave, the military requires it.  I don't have to pay $4 per cartirige.  I switched to a double edge safety razor several years ago.  Blades cost about $0.15 each and last just as many shaves.  It is a bit of a lost art, and takes some getting used to
When I'm in a hurry, I just shave my neck...Then the stubble looks like it's supposed to be there.
Aug 5, 2013 11:30AM
If the price goes down, perhaps people will once again shave. Maybe cool is a way of making ends meet.
Aug 5, 2013 10:55AM
Dollar Shave Club is the way to go! I have saved so much money its not even funny. I would buy a new razor for $10, each time I needed a replacement instead of a pack of 4 for $40. Dollar Shave Club is right about $9 a month and you get 6 replacement heads once a month. Great idea and thanks to them I don't go broke every time i need to shave. 
Aug 5, 2013 11:49AM
It costs approximately 25 cents to manufacture a package of 5 blades and these are sold at an astronomical retail price. I don't begrudge a company making a healthy profit, but the greed and outright lawlessness of American corporations (fueled by a CEO's ego) over the past 30 years has been absolutely astounding in its scope and scale.
Aug 5, 2013 11:36AM

no the beards didnt cause the issue




greed is a killer

Aug 5, 2013 11:15AM
My old friend neighbor was a barber in the 50's and 60's. He owned 4 shops and was doing great until the Beatles came along. After that nobody wanted their hair cut. So he sold all his shops in the 60's and then dabbled in the stock market.  Life is funny.
Aug 5, 2013 11:11AM
Stylish facial hair? thats debatable, or perhaps it's that they have had to make tough choices like do I keep getting thos expensive coffee drinks, pay for my cell phone bill , or shave.
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