I came across an article on Forbes about the latest men’s razor from Proctor and Gamble’s Gillete brand. The Gillete Guard goes back to the basics to offer the closest shave. Gillete has been a leader in the razor category for years, and they’re always looking to out-innovate themselves and their competition. So, why is THIS razor so genius?
They went straight to their target market. Gillete decided to move into the Indian market with the Guard, and they spent hours researching the habits, preferences, and conditions in which men in India shave. This is a different approach than they previously used, which involved surveying young Indian students at MIT. Going straight to the source helped them glean powerful information that was missed in their first attempt to take a razor to the Indian market. Their research showed that men in India tend to shave less, making the hair longer at each shave. Also, they don’t have as much warm water as their US counterparts, making it difficult to properly rinse the smaller blades in Gillete’s traditional razor. Finally, they usually hold a hand mirror instead of using a wall-mounted mirror, which significantly alters how they hold and manipulate the razor. These key insights changed the design of the razor, bringing it back to a single blade razor with a handle that was more suitable to their target market. Had they refused to go straight to the source for their information, the design flaws in the concept would have crippled the product in their target market in India.
KISS. We’ve all heard, “Keep It Simple Stupid”, but Gillete took this mantra to heart to achieve market success. Sometimes as marketers, we feel the need to make some grand alteration, or have some enlightening plan for success. But sometimes a good, solid, old-fashioned marketing plan is what is needed. When Gillete decided to “innovate”, they took their insights to meet their customers’ needs. And, in this case, their customers needed an older, simpler design. THAT is the real innovation: finding new ways to meet your customers’ needs, better, faster, and cheaper than the competition. Gillete’s simple, single blade razor sells cheaper and works better than their competition’s offering, thus making their KISS strategy successful.
Adjusted their distribution model. Proctor and Gamble realized that they might need change their distribution to make their product successful. They’ve decided to manufacture and distribute the product in India, versus manufacturing elsewhere and importing the product. Sometimes companies are unwilling to adjust their standard distribution model, and great products fail to go to market with success because of this. P & G realized the market success depends not only on the product itself, but maximizing the manufacturing and logistical opportunities associated with getting the product into consumers’ hands.
Proctor and Gamble showcased their genius with the Gillete Guard. The simple design, inexpensive cost, and new distribution model helped make the Guard a success. So, what innovations are you working on? What possibilities exist for your “innovation” to really be a simple solution?