Gillette Co.'s Braun unit introduces a premium electric razor to the U.S. market this summer, backed by a $15 million ad campaign. The budget marks the largest commitment Braun has made in nearly 20 years of marketing razors in the U.S., said Braun Chairman Bernhard Wild.
Syncro System, a cordless shaver with a larger, pivoting head that oscillates for a closer shave and includes an automatic cleaning and recharging stand, reaches stores in July.
"We challenged ourselves to rethink the whole process of electric shaving," said Mr. Wild. "It is a major step forward for the consumer."
The push, from Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, New York, includes print and TV ads, direct mail and in-store and online promotions on Braun's Web site (braun.com). The tagline: "Designed to make a difference."
Syncro is expected to help Braun increase its U.S. market share, which currently hovers between 12% and 15% of all electric shavers, he added. He would not estimate first-year sales. Braun lags Norelco Consumer Products Co. and Remington in the U.S. market, where dry shaving is less popular than it is overseas.
"They're going to have to do a lot of marketing and advertising," said William Steele, analyst with Bank of America Securities.
But, Mr. Steele added "if it indeed shaves you more closely and with less cleanup, there's a market for that."
Braun leads in many overseas markets, including its home country of Germany, and in Japan, one of the largest markets for electric razors worldwide, Mr. Wild said. For example, he noted Braun has more that 50% of dollar sales in Germany, and in Japan it claims approximately 34% of sales, including a 25% share for Syncro since its introduction last year.
Braun has made shavers for 50 years, but only began marketing in the U.S. about 18 years ago due to antitrust concerns. Gillette acquired the German appliance maker 32 years ago, but U.S. regulators then objected to the marriage of the world's top blade and razor marketer with the top electric shaver maker. In the early '80s, the problem was resolved and Braun products began to appear in the U.S., Mr. Wild said.
Gillette is expected to put more focus on the Braun razor business as part of a plan to concentrate on key businesses and improve its financial results. In February, the company announced it had hired J.P. Morgan & Co. to review strategic alternatives for parts of Braun, except for hair removal/shaver and Braun Oral-B dental-care products. Company officials said the process is still ongoing and no decision has been made about a sale.
Copyright May 2000, Crain Communications Inc.