Gillette, after several years of taking a beating (and losing market share) from the likes of Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club, is fighting back. Their new Gillette3 and Gillette5 cartridges are compatible with existing razor handles and are very aggressively priced….
Proctor and Gamble’s Gillette division has been losing business for years. According to Euromonitor, Gillette has lost market share for the last seven years, 54% in 2016, down from 59% in 2015 and as much as 70% in 2010.
In 2016 Gillette’s own shave club was introduced but the customer response did not really go anywhere.
Gillette cut prices across the board about a year ago as another response. That seemed to gain a little more traction with consumers.
Now it appears that Gillette may have decided that maybe sacrificing a little of the margins they enjoy on cartridges could bring back some of that market share.
They’re doing it in an interesting way, too: introducing new cartridges touting Gillette quality at a much lower price and compatible with existing handles. From Gillette’s website:
“Gillette3 and Gillette5 offer you high performance and trusted quality at an affordable price.”
“Gillette3 men’s blade refills feature 3 blades for better comfort (vs. Sensor3), as well as a Lubrication Strip that helps your Gillette3 glide across your skin with comfort. The Gillette3 has a Front Pivot that transfers pressure of your hand away from the blades for better skin comfort. Additionally, 10 Soft Microfins gently stretch the skin to create a smooth, even surface for a comfortable shave.”
It doesn’t say so on the package or Gillette’s website but the Gillette3 cartridge fits into a Mach3 handle just fine.
And four replacement cartridges are going for about around US $1.25/cart currently on Amazon (affiliate link)–less than a buck a cartridge for an eight pack with coupon!–and only slightly higher in “brick and mortar” stores.
“Gillette5 men’s blade refills feature 5 blades for better comfort (vs. Sensor3), as well as a Lubrication Strip that helps your Gillette5 glide across your skin with comfort. The Gillette5 has a Front Pivot that transfers pressure of your hand away from the blades for better skin comfort. Additionally, 15 Soft Microfins gently stretch the skin to create a smooth, even surface for a comfortable shave.”
It doesn’t say so on the package or Gillette’s website but the Gillette5 cartridge fits into a Fusion handle just fine.
The Gillette5 eight cartridge pack is going for under US $14.00 on Amazon (affiliate link), again somewhat higher in “brick and mortar” outlets.
My Own Shaves With Gillette3 and Gillette5
I’ve been some initial testing the Gillette3 and Gillette5 in my old Mach3 and Fusion handles and…they’re pretty darn good in my opinion. The Gilette3 in particular gives me a shave indistinguishable from the shaves I used to get a few years ago from a Mach3 (Turbo) cartridge. The Gillette5 was, perhaps, ever-so-slightly less comfortable than a regular Fusion cartridge (I haven’t compared it to a Proglide or Proshield variant yet) but definitely not bad. I have not tested them long enough to get a good handle on cartridge life: I’ll update this post when I have some cartridge usage under my belt.
My 86 year old father-in-law has been a regular Mach3 user for years and he says he likes the shave he gets with the Gillette3 cartridge better than what he gets with a standard Mach3 cartridge.
What Is Gillette’s Official Position?
I reached out to a LinkedIn contact I have at Gillette, who in-turn put me in touch with someone who could answer a few questions from me. Here’s what they have to say:
Mantic59: The Gillette3/Gillette5 cartridges are compatible with Mach3/Fusion (respectively) handles but this fact is not promoted and are instead offered with their own handles. Why?
Gillette: With Gillette 3 and Gillette 5 we are offering a new handle option, the Aqua Grip handle, which offers an even better grip in wet environments like the shower. If you’re unsure of what cartridges your handle is compatible with, or vice versa, we have a simple chart available in the first answer on our FAQ page on Gillette.com. Note: this chart has not yet been updated to reflect Gillette3 and Gillette5 – coming soon.
Mantic59: What are the main differences between the Gillette3 and Mach3, and the Gillette5 and Fusion, cartridges?
Gillette: Gillette has spent decades perfecting the 3- and 5-blade razor offerings that millions of men use to start their day. The Gillette3 and Gillette5 razors deliver the elements we know are critical for high performance shaves, but at a low price guys will love.
Differences between Gillette3 and Gillette5, and the upgraded MACH3® and Fusion5™ blades include:
- MACH3® and Fusion5™ now include Low Cutting Force blades. Gillette3 and Gillette5 feature Gillette’s exceptional legacy blade technology.
- Fusion5™ blades include a Precision Trimmer blade on the back of all cartridges. Gillette5 will not include a trimmer.
- The new Gillette3 and Gillette5 products feature a NEW Aqua Grip handle – not available on any other products – for strong grip and total control, even when wet.
Mantic59: The pricing for these cartridges is extremely aggressive for Gillette. Is this a response to “shave clubs” like Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club?
No, not at all. The introduction of Gillette3 and Gillette5 – both starting at just $7.99 – is proof that Gillette can and does make what we believe are the world’s best razor blades at any price. We know that when it comes to shaving, one size does not fit all; men have different needs for their shave and their wallets. By offering guys basic versions of our 3- and 5-bladed razor models, we’re providing an option for them to enjoy the comfort of a quality Gillette blade at a really comfortable price.
Mantic59: The Gillette5 package indicates it is made in the USA. Is it produced in the Boston factory?
Gillette: Yes, the Gillette 5 cartridges are made at our Boston manufacturing site with high quality components from all over the world.
Mantic59: Are there any plans to distribute these cartridges in markets other than the USA?
Gillette: Currently, Gillette3 is available in Europe and is called Mach3 Start. We do not comment on future plans for the brand.
So What Does That Mean?
I think the real key statement here is the comment about Mach3 and Fusion including Low Cutting Force blades. A Gillette fact sheet (PDF) states Low Cutting Force blades are “thinner, finer blades and our advanced low‐resistance coating enabling the blades to cut effortlessly through hair with less tug and pull*” (interestingly, the asterisk at the end modifies the comment by adding “First 4 Blades vs. Fusion”).
“Gillette3 and Gillette5 feature Gillette’s exceptional legacy blade technology.”
What kind of conclusions do you make based on this new information? Leave a comment below!