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Gillette (brand)

Gillette is a brand of Procter & Gamble currently used for safety razors among other personal hygiene products. It is one of several brands originally owned by The Gillette Company, a leading global supplier of products under various brands, which was acquired by P&G in 2005.

The Gillette Company was founded by King C. Gillette in 1901 as a safety razor manufacturer. It was based in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. On October 1, 2005, Procter & Gamble finalized its purchase of The Gillette Company. As a result of this merger, the Gillette Company no longer exists. Its last day of market trading - symbol G on the New York Stock Exchange - was September 30, 2005. The merger created the world's largest personal care and household products company. In addition to Gillette, the company marketed under Braun, Duracell and Oral-B, among others, which have also been maintained by P&G.

The Gillette Company's assets were initially incorporated into a P&G unit known internally as "Global Gillette". In July 2007, Global Gillette was dissolved and incorporated into Procter & Gamble's other two main divisions, Procter & Gamble Beauty and Procter & Gamble Household Care. Gillette's brands and products were divided between the two accordingly.

Gillette firsts

Since the company's inception, Gillette has introduced a number of technologies that are now a part of nearly every razor.

  • Safety razor (Gillette Safety Razor invented in 1895 and patented in 1904)
  • Razor marketed specifically to women (Milady Décolletée, 1916)
  • Razor dispenser (1946)
  • Stainless Steel blades (Super Stainless, 1963)
  • Double-blade razor (Trac II, 1971)
  • Disposable double-blade razor (Good News!, 1971)
  • Razor with a pivot point (Atra, 1977)
  • Razor with a lubricating strip (Atra Plus, 1985)
  • Razor with spring-loaded blades (Sensor, 1990)
  • Razor with microfins (Sensor Excel, 1995)
  • Razor with three blades (Mach3, 1998)
  • Manual Razor with battery power (M3Power, 2004)
  • Razor with five blades (Fusion, 2007)
  • Razor with rear trim blade (Fusion, 2007)

Early Gillette Products

The Gillette Super Speed razor became popular among those who used safety razors. The Super Speed is characterized by a set of butterfly doors on the top and a knob on the bottom that opens them. Although it is not the only razor with a bottom knob release (the Gillette Aristocrat also has a 'Twist to Open' or TTO design), it is the most recognizable of the TTO designed razors. The Super Speed was made from 1940 to 1970. A German company, Merkur Solingen, still produces a similar razor.

Although the Super Speed is considered to be Gillette's crowning achievement there were many different models made by the company over the years, which are also still available on eBay and other wet shaving sites, including Speedway, Tech, and Debutant.

Older Gillette products

Trac II The Trac II was the world's first two-blade razor, debuting in 1971. Gillette claimed that the second blade cut the number of strokes required in half compared to previous razors, reducing facial irritation. The Trac II Plus is essentially the same as the original Trac II, with the exception of a lubricating strip at the top of the blade. Trac II Plus blades work on the original Trac II razor. The razors themselves can be difficult to find, but are still sold.

Atra The Atra was introduced in 1977 and was the first razor to feature a pivoting head, which enables the blades to "stay on your beard longer for extra closeness". The pivoting made it easier for men to shave their necks, and also was popular with women. The Atra Plus was the first razor to add a lubricating strip, dubbed Lubra-Soft strip, softening hairs and acting as a sort of a low-tech aftershave.

Gillette Sensor debuted in 1990 and was the first razor to have spring-loaded blades. Gillette claims that the blades recede into the cartridge head when they make contact with skin, helping to prevent cuts and allowing for a closer shave. The Sensor for Women was released around the same time as the Sensor. It is nearly identical to the Sensor in terms of technology, but contains a wider cartridge head. Although this reduces control over the razor by the user, it also reduces the risk of cutting oneself. This feature is desired by women for several reasons: they frequently cannot see the part of the body being shaved; they often shave larger areas of their body than men; and they tend to shave more delicate areas of their bodies than men.

An improved version, the Sensor Excel was released in 1995. The Sensor Excel is almost identical to the Sensor, but features "Microfins," a piece of rubber with slits at the top. Gillette claims that the Microfins help to raise facial hair making for a closer shave. Also, the Sensor's handle grip was redesigned somewhat for the Sensor Excel. The Sensor Excel for Women is similar in design. Another version, the Sensor 3, has three blades instead of two. As an additional design feature, the Sensor Excel razor can use not only Sensor Excel razor cartridges, but also the original Sensor and Sensor 3 cartridges.

Unlike its predecessors, the Sensor handle is indurable; it fails in ordinary use and must be discarded. This is due to wear of the moving, stress-bearing parts in the mechanism that attaches the blade cartridge to the handle. Previous products, up to to and including the Trac II, included "lasts a lifetime" durability in its attributes. Some consumers argue that this fact demonstrates "planned obsolescence" and detracts from the appeal of the product.

Current Gillette Products

Good News! The Good News! was the first disposable double-blade razor. It was first released in 1976. The Good News! comes in three forms: the original, the Good News! Plus, which includes a lubricating strip, and the Good News! Pivot Plus, which features the lubricating strip, and a pivoting head.

Blue II Blue II is a line of disposible razors. In Latin and South America, it is marketed as Prestobarba.

Mach3 The first three-blade razor, introduced in 1998, which Gillette claims reduces irritation and requires fewer strokes. It offers five improved microfins, improved spring blades, and a pivoting head with greater bendability than previous Gillette products. It introduced indicator technology to encourage users to change their blades more frequently: the blue lubricating strip fades as the razor is used; when it is nearly white, it signals that the blade needs changing. The Mach3 handle was also improved compared to the Sensor Excel.

Venus Released later on, and based on the Mach3, but designed for women.

Mach3 Turbo A Mach3 with ten microfins (as opposed to five on the original), improved lubrication, improved 'anti-friction' blades, and a new grip. All Mach3 blades are interchangeable between the three products in the range, so it is possible to use the Mach3 Turbo blades on a Mach3 razor.

Mach3 Turbo Champion Same as the Mach 3 Turbo with a slightly different handle design.

Venus Divine The Venus version of the Mach3 Turbo.

M3Power A battery-powered version of the Mach3 Turbo razor (which can also be used with the power switched off). The blades differ from Mach3 Turbo in having what Gillette says is a new blade coating technology, which it describes as 'PowerGlide'. The lubrication and microfins are identical to MACH3Turbo. In its desire to release ever more expensive products, each claiming to be the 'best ever,' Gillette reached into hyperbole with an injunction brought by rival Wilkinson Sword, and granted in the Connecticut District Court determining that claims that 'M3Power raises hair up and away from the skin is both "unsubstantiated and inaccurate."' and 'that the product demonstrations in Gillette's advertising are "greatly exaggerated" and "literally false."'

Mach 3 Power Nitro Same as the Mach 3 Power with a slightly different handle design.

Venus Vibrance The Venus M3Power. Venus blades are interchangeable across the line.

The Gillette Fusion is a five-bladed razor released in 2006. There are two different versions of the Fusion available: the Gillette Fusion, and the Gillette Fusion Power. All share the characteristic five blades on the front, and a single sixth blade on the rear that acts as a "precision trimmer". In addition, the Fusion Power is battery powered and emits "gentle micropulses" that are claimed to increase razor glide. In February 2007, the Fusion Power Phantom (Stealth in UK) was released which features a redesigned handle and a darker color scheme than the original Fusion Power. In February 2008, Gillette released another revision, the Fusion Power Phenom, with a new blue and silver color scheme.

The Fusion and Fusion Power products cost slightly less to develop than the $680 million Gillette spent on the Mach3 seven years earlier.

Venus Embrace A women's version of the Fusion; the first five-bladed razor for women.

Brand Worth

Some of Gillette’s profit and sales may not have been due to the direct worth of the product but due to it being presented to the public from a well-known company. In 1999 Gillette as a company was worth US$43 billion and it was estimated that the brand value of Gillette was worth US$16 billion. This equates to 37% of the company’s value, which is the same as DaimlerChrysler, one of the world's largest car manufacturers.

Promotions

Gillette has a long history of promotions for its products, especially towards young men. Current promotions include shipping their then-flagship product (currently the Fusion) to males in the United States around the time of their 18th birthday. Also, Gillette provides many promotional razors to campuses of universities.

Notes and References

  • "King C. Gillette, The Man and His Wonderful Shaving Device" by Russell Adams (1978), published by Little Brown & Co. of Boston MA, USA.

Popular culture references

  • Saturday Night Live featured a triple-blade razor in 1975, 23 years before the Mach3, with the slogan "The Triple-Trac. Because you'll believe anything." Not to be outdone, satirical newspaper The Onion printed a mock-commentary by Gillette's president after Wilkinson/Schick introduced their Quattro razor in 2004, three years before the Fusion was introduced, entitled "Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades".
  • Gillette continues to hold the naming rights to Gillette Stadium, which is home to the NFL three-time champion New England Patriots and the MLS New England Revolution.

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