A Thought-provoking Tale of Customer Acquisition

I was thinking about what product I’ve used the longest on a daily (or at least weekly basis), and I realized that in my case this is none other than my trusty  Gillette Mach3 razor. That thing is old and I just haven’t had a chance to replace it, but if I ever get around to it, I will probably go for another Gillette.

Gillette freebie?

I found the razor in the mailbox along with paper spam right around my 18th birthday. I’ve been a satisfied user for 11 years now (I am turning 29 on May 5th, for those wondering about my age), and still I have no idea how Gillette found out that I was turning 18.  However they did it, their customer acquisition kung-fu turned out to be incredibly effective.

I also just learned from Wikipedia that Mach3 was introduced in 1998, so this was a brand new product at the time and it must have been at its promotional peak. The most effective promotion in this case was just to give the razor, which purportedly took some $750 million to develop, away.

As far as I am concerned there is no real product differentiation among razor manufacturers, it’s more of a force of habit — once you go with one, chances are you’ll stay with that one forever. So what better way to acquire customers than to send them a free razor when they are most likely to be making a decision that could spell lifetime loyalty to Gillette brand?

Now let me turn the question around and ask you what products you’ve used the longest and how did you end up sticking with them for so long? I would love to hear your stories.

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5 responses to “A Thought-provoking Tale of Customer Acquisition

  1. I turned 18 on May 1st of 1999 and got a Gillette Mach3 razor in some sort of gift set when I moved into the dorm. The Gillette Mach3 is the only razor I have used since.

  2. If I had been Gillette in 1999, I would also have been targeting the relatively young, hoping that

    1) they hadn’t learnt yet what a standard razor blade cost, and

    2) they were slightly uncomfortable around peers, perhaps looking for something that would be, in their eyes, a good status symbol.

    I was entering a dorm around that time too, and I remember the smugness of the boy with the Mach3.

    Seriously, you’ve been had. Get a double-edged safety razor, or a twin blade if you have kids. You can get either made by Gillette at the flea market.

    • Pascal, thanks for your comment.

      Although I appreciate you perspective I don’t think “been had” fully covers the situation. By the same reasoning people who drive a BMW, or any type of car whatsoever, have been had by the car industry. The suckers! They could have just walked to work.

      I don’t think it’s not just about cost. It’s also about the experience, the availability and, as you correctly noted, the perceived status associated with having something.

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