Dollar Shave Club 2.0
ADWEEK|September 24, 2018

Once The Brand Of Bros, The Razor Company Eyes A New Competitive Edge.

Ann-Marie Alcántara

Could Dollar Shave Club, the former disruptor known for its budget-friendly razors and renegade marketing tactics, be the next big men’s wellness brand? That’s the vision the company’s been pursuing since being acquired for $1 billion in 2016 by Unilever. The corporate behemoth wants consumers who relied on Dollar Shave Club to deliver high-quality, low-cost razors to now embrace the once-indie company as the ultimate destination for men, both as a resource and for the tools they need for their body and mind. The name for this next era of the brand? “Dollar Shave Club 2.0.”

Mixing products and content is not unprecedented for direct-to-consumer ecommerce companies. Brandless, a home-goods basics company that just raised $240 million in a Series C round, publishes an extensive blog filled with posts on everything from planning meals to volunteering through Brandless’ social-impact efforts. But the challenge for Dollar Shave Club is making the transition to lifestyle brand under a corporation while maintaining the edginess and innovation that made it beloved among its core fan base (namely, bros).

If expanding its brand identity seems like a logical next step, it’s also a necessary one. In 2016, pre-acquisition, Dollar Shave claimed 48.6 percent of the online razor market and today still commands a 50 percent share in sales, according to data from Slice Intelligence. But Dollar Shave was (and still is) facing competition from other upstarts. Products by Walker & Company’s Bevel—founded in 2014 as a grooming brand dedicated to men of color whose specific shaving needs weren’t addressed in the industry—were carried by Macy’s earlier this year, though the company has raised only $33 million so far (Dollar Shave raised $163 million before being acquired). Billie, a women’s shaving company that aims to combat the “pink tax” (a levy on women’s products), has raised $6 million. Then, there’s Harry’s, which bought its own factory to produce razors and other products and has raised a total of $474 million. Harry’s even has a “minority stake” in Hims, a startup that originally began as a male hair-loss-prevention company but has pivoted to men’s wellness, and has raised $97 million so far.

Harry’s quest for dominance doesn’t end with Hims or its factory. The company’s had several third-party relationships with retailers like J. Crew since 2014, but in 2016, Harry’s inked a deal to get shelf space in every Target store (as well as online). This past May, Harry’s furthered that retail footprint by landing in 2,200 of Walmart’s U.S. stores—along with an exclusive razor in Walmart’s colors. Dollar Shave, however, has no plans to enter this space.

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