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The first women’s razors were men’s razors, but in pink. But in 2001, Proctor & Gamble introduced the Venus line, and in 2003, Schick responded with its Intuition razor, both designed specifically for women. Today, though Gillette leads the men’s shaving market, Schick remains ahead on the women’s side, and both shaving titans are focusing on improving the technology for women’s shaving tools.

To improve a razor, companies conduct tons of market research, observing female razor users with enough cameras to make a movie. High-speed cameras take thousands of pictures per second to determine how the blades hit the skin. In one lab, lasers turn liquid UV resin into plastic razor prototypes. Another lab creates fragrances that razors can emit while in the shower, including avocado, olive, and kokum butters. The enduring rivals Gillette and Schick keep such research extremely confidential. Their private research testing facilities have extensive rules, including disallowing any cameras or cellphones.

Gillette classifies four segments in the women’s shaving market—perfect shavers, skin pamperers, pragmatic functionalists, and E-Z seekers—and targets specific products to each. As companies learn more about what women want from shaving tools, they have also begun partnering with various companies, such as Palomar Medical Technologies, to develop light-based hair removal devices for in-home use. An Olay partnership offers fragrance expertise and better skin care technology, which might lead to anti-aging and anti-cellulite razors. These promises seem much more appealing than just the color pink!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is market research necessary to create razors for shaving?
  2. Why is it necessary to keep research testing facilities so confidential?

Jenn Abelson, “Gillette Sharpens its Focus on Women,” Boston Globe, January 4, 2009.

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