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…



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