A History of Post-War Razors: Episode 3 The Great Transformation of Razor Manufacturers at the Beginning of the 21st Century

Yasuoki Takeuchi, President of the Kamisori Club

As we entered the 21st century, we were on the verge of a major and unexpected event. Schick’s parent company, Warner-Lambert of the United States, and Gillette of the United States, were acquired in a series of mergers and acquisitions, and both became part of a super-big company with sales of 5-6 trillion yen.
This was a representative example of the American way of global strategy. In fact, Gillette, Schick, and Wilkinson are among the world’s leading brands of razors that focus on refillable blades, and no other razor manufacturer can compete with them in terms of production scale and technology.

razor3_01
July 5, 1983 at a hotel in Tokyo
Meeting with his late father, Kinzo Takeuchi, 69, chairman of Warner-Lambert, Inc.

The company changed its name to Pfizer Consumer Inc. in April 2002 after its parent company, Warner Lambert (WL), was acquired by the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, Pfizer Inc. in the U.S. In January 2003, Pfizer agreed to divest its shaving business, which included Schick & Wilkinson, and sell it to Energizer Inc. of the U.S., which focused on batteries. In the Japanese market, the related business divisions were spun off and established as Schick Japan Inc. and Mr. Shinichi Goto was appointed as the Japanese president in 2009.

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At the head office showroom of Sanpo Shoji
July 28, 1986 Author: Yasuoki Takeuchi, age 43
Mr. D. Wilder, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Virginia, U.S.A. (later to become the first black governor), requested to promote the import of razors

On the other hand, Gillette was acquired by Procter & Gamble (P&G), the world’s largest manufacturer of household detergents and other toiletries, in 2006 and became part of the group. Headquartered in Boston, Gillette has been in business since 1904 and is a well-financed company with the largest market share in the world. The company also owned powerful companies such as Brown Electric Razor and Oral-B Toothbrush. In terms of products, in 2004, Gillette released a 3-blade Mach M Three Power electric male system, and Chick also released a 4-blade Quattro 4. Following this, in 2005, domestic feathers also released a 3-blade F-System MR3 chrome holder. And in the latter half of 2006, P&G’s 5-blade system for men “Gillette Fusion 5+1” was put on the market and attracted the world’s attention. On the other hand, in 2008, Kaijirushi, which focuses on disposables, launched the Premium Dispo 5, a five-blade, high-grade disposable razor.

razor3_03
At Sankei Kaikan, Otemachi
November 27, 1989.
Shaving Culture Hall and Kamisori Club Establishment Announcement
Author: Yasuki Takeuchi, 46 (left)
My late father, Kanakura, 75 years old (right)

On the other hand, innovations have also taken place in the women’s market, such as the Gillette Venus and Sick-in-Twurtion, which have been developed one after another in addition to three-blade and electric razors based on design preferences, but all of these razors are the same type of bodied razor as those in the Western market. A companion product, the Schick Revoltion, a holder with an attachment that allows you to care for your beard, was also a hot topic. In the field of shaving-related products, in 2009, a new gel-type pre-shave containing aloe extracts and charcoal (a cleaning agent) was launched by Schick to compete with general men’s cosmetics manufacturers, including shaving foam.

In retrospect, the beginning of the 21st century has been a decade of upheaval and change, although it has not been a long one. The razor industry went through a period of great change that will go down in history, with the dynamic merger of two manufacturers through mergers and acquisitions, as well as the emergence of revolutionary new products such as the four- and five-blade razors, which were just ahead of the curve. In the past, only the blade itself was processed in the double-edged era, but today’s razors are made of plastic and special chemicals and are now cartridge-type. The price of the replacement blade has also increased by that amount, but the safety of the blade has increased and it has been well received by consumers. The advanced sharpness is also made from high quality razor material (steel strip), and the number of times each replacement blade is used is naturally increased. Chairman Honda of Hitachi Metals, the world’s largest supplier of razors, also spoke passionately about recent blade replacements when we met in July 2009, and while deflation and the strong yen have caused a downturn in the economy since the Lehman Shock of 2008 in the U.S., and overall razor sales have slowed down, the online gift sales of high-end razors run by the Kamisori Club have created a new market and sparked interest.

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