Despite my own unruly head of hair, I feel an uncanny connection to my bald(ing) brethren. Even before bald ambassadors like Bruce Willis and Kelly Slater (above — looking goooood) stood up for the cause, I’ve always held a special place for the guys who show some scalp.

Seems as if the world is finally catching up. In a recent article, The Wall Street Journal touted the benefits of embracing bald: “a man’s shaved head—whether it’s to-the-skin or with slight stubble—can suggest a sigh-inspiring combination of intellectual depth and machismo,” says WSJ reporter Christina Brinkley.

Now deep in the world of shaving, my respect for head shavers has grown even more. The do may look low maintenance, but it requires the right razor, the best shaving cream or oil and a skilled touch.

Go bald!

- Marisa

In an article in this week’s Ad Age, writer Jack Neff does a great job articulating why mainstream personal care products, despite being considered a recession-proof category, have been struggling against their private label counterparts.

Consider this, taken from the article:
“As people cut back on packaged goods, they are still doling out for such things as smartphones and tablet computers — many of them coming with steep monthly tariffs on top of three-digit price tags.
“The reason? According to some industry watchers, it’s simple: Tech companies are innovating; CPG companies aren’t.”

Well. There you have it.
I’ve personally had plenty of conversations over the past couple years with category buyers at retail who refuse to believe that, given shaving aisle options like a $2.49 can of Gillette Foamy or Barbasol, someone would be willing to spend $5-$10 on a quality shaving product. My response? Give your customers something innovative and demonstrably better (that is to say, actually give them a quality shaving product), and you’d be surprised how many would be willing to shell out a couple more dollars. Razors and blades aside, the shaving category has seen little-to-no innovation in the past decade, which is why the shaving aisle in your local drug store looks exactly the same every time you go in.

I hope Mr. Neff knows that innovation in the shaving category is not dead. It is based in San Francisco and, since 2003, has been quietly making noise, playing under the radar of P&G and Energizer – for now…

-Stan

Cocky Traveler: Check What?

October 22, 2010

I am filled with a disproportionate sense of elation (and pride) each and every time I avoid succumbing to an airline’s checked baggage regimen. In these gritty days of air travel, not checking a bag is no small victory. It’s a significant win — and one that I accept with little to no humility.

No checked luggage equals less time standing on slow, snaking lines (I check in at home the night before), less money pushed into the hands of poorly run companies ($25 to place my bag in the belly of your aircraft? that’s the best you can do?) and more time sipping frothy Starbucks’ pumpkin lattes with a dignified calm.

Yes, I practically strut to security with my carry-on bag tossed lightly on my shoulder. And in said bag lies the secret to this entire operation: a jumble of miniature toiletry items that can go the long haul without agitating the testy TSA.

These days my arsenal includes a jar of potent moisturizing lotion (1.7 oz); a two-ounce bottle of little-goes-a-long-way conditioner; 2.4 ounces of roll-on deodorant; and my trusty shaving oil.

Take that airlines! If you’re looking for me, I’ll be the one skipping past the baggage claim.

-Marisa

Best Laid Plans…

October 21, 2010

I snapped this photo at my local pub in San Francisco last fall and it seems to come up in my screen saver disproportionately often considering the thousands of pictures of my kids that take up most of my hard drive.

And every time it does, it simultaneously frustrates me and makes me laugh.

As a career marketer and now entrepreneur, I spend a lot of time – and I mean a lot of time – thinking about how to encourage people to think differently when it comes to choosing the products they use to shave every day.

In the retail world, this means point of sale marketing that needs to be compelling, concise, and properly merchandised. The “properly merchandised” piece is where it always seems to fall apart.

Somewhere, some food/beverage retail marketing director is laughing. or crying.

(Give up? The Patron Tequila bar mats are supposed to face the customers, not the bartenders.)

-Stan

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