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Coalescing the Wet Shaving Community Toward Continued Growth And Greater Mainstream Market Penetration

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 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Educate, educate, educate. Competing retailers are only helping one another out by further educating and evangelizing their products to an ever-growing market.
  3. 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 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.

Joshua Chou

Joshua Chou

3 thoughts on “Coalescing the Wet Shaving Community Toward Continued Growth And Greater Mainstream Market Penetration”

  1. As a baby boomer staring 60 in the face every morning, I’ve seen several similar “revolutions” in my time.
    There was a time when the bulk of us drank really weak, tasteless coffee because that’s what Folgers, Maxwell House, etc. wanted us drinking because it was profitable for them. We drank fairly bland beer from Budweiser, Miller, Coors because they profitably made a boatload of it and told us that’s what we liked.
    Along came Starbucks and a few others who actually had the gall to sell us coffee that tasted good. Sam Adams and the likes gave us beer that actually was flavorful and we said give us more! Damned if they didn’t charge us a premium but we handed them more and more dollars until they “moved the needle” in their industries.
    Us Baby Boomers and our kids did that. Took us years but we did it.
    Now, how do get Millenials to give up their multi-bladed plastic creations and canned shaving goo? Yes, these are the young adults in skinny jeans, Jethro boots and haircuts I can’t even begin to describe but, if you’re going to move that needle, figure out how to sell to them because a) there’s a buttload of them and b) they have lots of money to spend and c) eventually they will reproduce and their kids will follow their lead (i.e. captive audience).
    Yes, they learn everything from social media so that’s a good place to start. So, what do we have? Watched any great “wet Shaving Videos”? Short answer, No. It’s some guy looking in the bathroom mirror shaving his face…… OK, that is NOT, I repeat, NOT going to get a million hits on You Tube. (my apologies to the guys doing the videos…..I learned a lot from them over the years but damn, they are not exciting…sorry)
    Sure, give them razors, teach them how, encourage them one on one. If you convert one out of three each year, that’s……. well, not enough to move any needle, any where near enough to matter.
    Someone has got to make wet shaving so sexy, or non-conformist enough that some of their idols post something telling them they need to be wet shaving to be cool (or un-cool, whichever it is these days) like them so they all race out (excuse me, go on-line) and buy a new DE or single edge razor, blades, brush and soap. They’ll want Shark blades and Arko soap because they’re so retro. The internet will crash because of the volume and Gillette will file Chapter 11 within a week!
    Ok, pipe dream to be sure but keep on plugging away at it! Talk it up every chance you get.
    And guys, shave your wife’s legs a time or two with your DE. She’s scared shitless of it but once you show her it’s actually easier than she thought, you’ll make another convert and women buy the crap out of razors and blades! That’s how you move a needle..get them talking to each other about it….they can’t stand it when one of them is doing something the others aren’t and they’ll all rush out to get their own.
    And for the weenies out there worried about a few cuts, MAN UP! You’re part of the problem! Stop whining and take the time to learn how to wet shave correctly. If your dad came out with toilet paper on his face, he was probably using a really dull blade and deserved all the cuts he got!
    That’s all…..for now.

  2. I feel compelled to comment. I love your blogs. Years ago I received a wet shaving kit for father’s day – jarred, high-end shaving cream, a shaving brush and pre-shave lubricating oil, all in a nice gift box. I was hooked. I used these products, and more or less still do with some variation suggested by your blogs (I love Creme-O as a pre-shave lubricant!).
    However, I do the above with my Gillette Fusion manual cartridge razor. More recently, I switched to Gillette-5 cartridges because they are cheaper. Here is why I have considered but rejected “safety razors”, single-edged razors and the like:
    Fear. Fear of doing a hatchet job on my face. Fear of blood. I have vivid childhood memories of my Dad emerging from the bathroom with drips and oozes of blood here, there and everywhere all over his face. He would try and staunch the bleeding, sometimes, with a styptic pencil, sometimes with tiny pieces of tissue, and sometimes nothing. Probably in some cases nicks and cuts would arise because he failed (in haste and/or frugality) to take every precaution.
    With my cartridges, I get nicks and cuts only when I have gone over a week without a changeout. I’ve learned not to risk that. Tell me how I can confidently overcome my fear of blood (my own) and I’m game. But until then, I guess I’ll keep supporting Tom Brady, alas.

  3. I am not sure I agree, I think the community is not one I would recommend anymore. It used to be a friendly community but I have stopped participating as the last two times I asked for help (on the popular forum) all I got was animosity!
    The last time was when I switched to straights from safety razors because I started to sharpen my own knives. The forum just lashed out saying that I should have bought films instead of stones! This might have been good advice if the main reason for buying anything was razors, but it was knives and razors were just an afterthought. I just don’t participate anymore and I would not recommend it either.

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