Few tech innovations have produced as many yawns as 3D printing, but Gillette thinks it has a formula men won’t refuse. For between $19 to $45, they can have a custom-designed razor handle inspired by everything from agave to tessellate to Tokyo.
Called Razor Maker, the project is in partnership with the MIT-launched Formlabs.
The mass customization effort follows the launch of Gillette On Demand back in May. That innovation, which allows people to add text and even photos to their razors, came as a direct response to subscription-based competitors, including Dollar Shave Club, owned by rival Unilever, and Harry’s.
Procter & Gamble, which owns Gillette, says this new pilot program “furthers our commitment to place power in the hands of consumers and literally have them custom-make their razors exactly the way they want them — tailored to their grooming preference, budget, look, color and style.”
Once consumers select one of the 48 designs, from collections themed by nature, pixels and structures, they can then choose from seven colors, and add text. All the limited-edition razors can use either MACH3 or Fusion5 ProGlide razor cartridges. Orders take between two and three weeks to arrive.
A spokesperson for Gillette tells Marketing Daily the company is working with social influencers to spread the word about the pilot project.
Of course, just how enthusiastic consumers will be remains to be seen. While 3D printing enthusiasts have long been proclaiming it as a breakthrough — and it is having an impact in large industrial applications — it hasn’t materialized to be much more than a novelty act for most consumer marketers. But that will change eventually, experts say.
“Mass-customization of physical products will become a bigger deal to consumers over time as their expectations for highly personalized customer experiences increase,” says Carlton Doty, an analyst who covers emerging technologies for Forrester. “Our research shows that consumers do place a high value on uniqueness.”
Still, he tells Marketing Daily, he’s not convinced razor handles will represent any kind of a game-changer. “The trick for big consumer brands is to figure out in which product categories this will matter enough to make the investment in customizable products profitable. Early wins will occur with products in which consumers can get to show off their uniqueness,” he says, like fashion, autos and bikes.
In its most recent quarterly results, P&G says sales of shaving products fell into the low single digits, as it continued to lower prices to improve value for consumers.