The title of this article likely sounds a bit too “business-y” for what’s typical of Mantic59, but hear me out. Wet shaving seems to have hit a bit of a plateau of late, as witnessed by the following graphic:
(Courtesy Google Trends)
Billions in clever engineering and billions more in marketing budgets have been poured into creating products that are not necessarily best for the consumer or the environment. This expensive, wasteful and deliberately engineered obsolescence is, in this man’s opinion, creating a net negative contribution to the world. It’s the perfect example of clever capitalism run amok. I realize that for this particular audience, it’s a classic case of the proverbial “preaching to the choir.”
As witnessed by the above graph, we could likely surmise some of the reasons for wet shaving’s rise. It’s likely post-recession frugality held at least some of the seeds for what could be called the last resurrection of the wet shaver. However, I suspect other forces (e.g. the rise of subscription shaving services and searches for inexpensive alternatives) have also contributed to the demand spike in what would still be considered a small (comparatively) cottage industry.
Whatever combining forces continue to drive consumer interest in wet shaving products, it has almost all been as a result of bottom-up groundswell. It’s not likely that Gillette prizes the margins and revenue it continues to make on Astra blades. No, if they could I’m sure they would force-feed multiple-blade cartridges to consumers to infinity if they could only continue to convince the sheep consumers that cartridges are what they ultimately want and need.
Yet, despite what would appear to be a plateau in growth, there is further expansion that is most certainly needed and warranted. We are talking about an industry that includes both men and women over the age of…puberty.
As a long-time wet shaving enthusiast, but newly-minted wet-shaving evangelizer, I see an industry still struggling to get the message to a much broader audience. Yes, post 2008 recession frugality may have been a catalyst toward greater adoption, but it should not mean a “flash-in-the-pan” spike in the acceptance of this age-old tradition and method of grooming.
As a newcomer on the promotion side, I see a handful of the most stalwart and hardcore wet shavers maintain blogs, post to Youtube and otherwise evangelize the wet shaving market ad infinitum. It’s likely the reason I have also witnessed some (potentially misinformed Youtube viewers) vehemently question with: “how many ‘How to shave with a safety razor’ videos do we need on Youtube?”
But that’s exactly what we need: more.
Because no single provider of wet shaving products holds the market share (or marketing budget) to make the kind of top-down promotion that would continue this cottage industry’s growth, it’s going to have to continue to come from a grassroots, bottom-up approach.
As such, I would suggest several ways in which the collective “we” as a wet shaving community can continue the march of building “the cult” around this iconic wet shaving market.
- Every year, gift three friends–that don’t already have one–a safety razor. Teach them how to use it (this piece is critical). Tell each of them, that if they like it, they should do the same thing. Create a wet shaver’s version of Pay it Forward.
- Educate, educate, educate. Competing retailers are only helping one another out by further educating and evangelizing their products to an ever-growing market.
- Keep producing and sharing content. Billions of dollars cannot silence the loud, ever-present majority on blogs, social media and online platforms to keep the cult growth happening everyday.
Number 1 above is perhaps the most important. Most wet shaving enthusiasts are not bloggers or Youtube sensations, they’re fathers, brothers and sons. They have real lives and real jobs, but they can still be a part of the groundswell. Hopefully with your help, wet shaving will continue its rise and perhaps have its own ice bucket challenge moment.
None of us has that proverbial “Crystal Ball” to fully understand where wet shaving may be in five to ten years. However, everyone in the community can be contributing members toward making sure the industry’s future is the best it could possibly be.
This article was written by Joshua Chou, a wet shaving enthusiast and manager at Shave.net. Joshua has been a wet shaver for years, learning the art by first watching a few Youtube videos. He currently is attempting to save the world by inculcating it with one new safety razor at a time.