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Lucky Tiger’s Success Comes From Decades of Consistent Quality

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In an industry where positioning a brand as retro vintage is suddenly new and trendy, Milwaukee’s Lucky Tiger doesn’t even need to even try.  Trademarked in Kansas City in 1935, the iconic men’s brand actually stretches back to a barber shop from the 1920s, when it was a very large line of tonics and hair products.  Amazingly, many of those exact same formulations exist today.

Lucky Tiger In Milwaukee

Now, Lucky Tiger, which was bought by BlueCo Brands in 2012 and relocated to Milwaukee, exists as two lines: its Barbershop Classics and Premium Products.

The Barbershop Classics, according to Sales Director Brenda Leckie, are designed to be used in the barber shop. And old-school barbering, along with scents like bay rum, are making a come back, she says.

“We’re a heritage brand that people seem to remember,” says Leckie. “It takes them back to their childhood. I know when we first bought the line and I smelled the bay rum … oh my gosh. It’s my grandfather.”

Which is a change from a few years ago, before wet shaving was embraced by the hipster set.

Says Leckie, “At the time, when the previous owners sold the company, (sales were) flat.

“People didn’t really know about (the brand). It used to be men would go to a barber shop. Then it was more trendy for them to go into the salon. Now, the trends are going back. The more upscale barber shops … men are starting to do that. Going in for the shave. It’s more of a service, a treatment.”

To that extent, Lucky Tiger all sells its Premium Products, but their price points are actually lower than their closest competitors, like Jack Black or Baxter’s or Art of Shaving.

“(BlueCo) is new to the company, so we just really wanted to get a feel for who our audience is,” says Leckie. “The biggest change is that we’ve moved everything to Milwaukee.”

In fact, Leckie says Lucky Tiger hasn’t done any reformulating of its products whatsoever.

“There has not been any reformulation. We bought the company, bought the formulas. Over the years, the line’s been scaled back. They’ve discontinued some items. We did bring some items back into the line when we bought the company.

“When we were out talking to customers, we listened to the voice of the customer. There were certain products – exfoliating massage cream and the lemon cream, which is a cleanser – that people really wanted. They couldn’t figure out why they previous owners had discontinued them.”

But bringing them back can be difficult when the original supply is gone.

Says Leckie, “We didn’t really have anything to compare it to. We had to rely on our customers, our barbers, to sample it and say, ‘Yes. This is good.’ From time to time, I’ll have somebody call me and say, ‘Something just doesn’t seem right. The consistency isn’t right.’ We’ll take it back and we send it to quality, have it tested, send them a new one. That’s really how we can compare the product.

“Reformulation is a no-no in this industry,” she says.

“And you have to be very careful with repackaging. That’s why everything looks the same. You can take this product – same exact formula, put a new label on it, repackage it – if they have it in their head that it’s different, they’re not going to like it.”

Andy Tarnoff

Andy Tarnoff

9 thoughts on “Lucky Tiger’s Success Comes From Decades of Consistent Quality”

  1. I bought the Lucky Tiger tin box pictured in the article in 2007 when I was a student at a college prep school. All of the guys used the same products Gillette, Edge, Old Spice, etc. I saw the Lucky Tiger box while just browsing around Nordstrom and its classiness really appealed to me. It was the first product that made me feel better when shaving, even though I had not discovered wet shaving with a safety razor yet. It also made me feel more unique since I was one of the few (if not the only) guy around that wasn’t just spraying stuff out of a can like everyone else. Lucky Tiger helped me find a better way.

    1. Eric, a few I can think of off-hand include West Coast Shaving, Grooming Lounge, Amazon and the BlueCo brands website. A google search could probably pick up more.

  2. I remember seeing Lucky Tiger products in my grandfather’s barber shop. I’m not sure if they were hair tonic’s, aftershave, or something else. I do enjoy their products today, especially their 3 in 1 hair tonic and Bay Rum aftershave. I’m glad they are continuing to put these products out there.

  3. I’m using Lucky Tiger AS Face Tonic for the first time. I was attracted to it, because it’s witch hazel based with aloe and no alcohol. In performance, it’s similar to Thayer’s WH. It’s not cooling, but it soothes the skin with no irritating after-effects. It leaves no sticky residue. The fragrance is orange (not lime or lemon). It’s not complex, but it’s pleasant and, important to me, not obtrusive. I’ll continue using it and probably try some of LT’s other products.

    1. I agree with both of you. I first tried Lucky Tiger AS-FT just a month ago, and really liked it. It’s doing well with irritations (although it doesn’t completely soothens them), I love its fragrance and it comes with nice refreshing actiong, without any tingling. Ideal for the upcoming greek summer….!

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