Launches Five-Blade 'Fusion' Razor

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NEW YORK ( -- Gillette Co. will one-up the competition with a five-bladed razor as it launches Gillette Fusion in early 2006, its first new men's razor system since Mach 3 launched in summer 1998.
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Fusion, which will include both a vibrating power and unpowered version, will be accompanied by a new line of similarly branded shave gels and creams and priced at a 30% premium to Gillette's current top-line products, Mach 3 and M3 Power, the latter of which launched only 19 months ago.

One more blade than Schick Quattro
Both Fusion and Fusion Power, which feature an improved coating and smoother shave than Mach 3, according to Gillette executives, also have wider cartridges to accommodate the two additional blades compared to Mach 3 and one additional blade compared to rival Energizer Holdings' Schick Quattro.

Peter Hoffman, president of blades and razors of Gillette, declined to provide specifics of the marketing plan or the exact launch date during a meeting with analysts and media today. But people familiar with the launch said last week the system will ship in January in time for advertising on the Super Bowl in February.

Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles the brand.

Because the wider cartridge would make it difficult to impossible for the 50% of men with facial hair to trim around mustaches, sideburns, beards and soul patches, Fusion cartridges will come with a single-blade trimmer on the back.

Comes with microchip
Fusion Power will be the first wet razor with a microchip, which will automatically shut it off after eight minutes if it's started accidentally in a toiletries bag and provide a low-battery warning 10 minutes before the single AAA battery runs out of juice.

In consumer tests, men preferred Fusion 60% to 30% over Mach 3, the next most preferred non-power system, and prefer the power version 56% to 30% over M3 Power, Chairman-CEO Jim Kilts said.

Fusion will retail for $9.99 and Fusion Power for $11.99, with refill cartridges selling for $12 to $14. The new system is priced above Gillette's offers currently, but below the initial $14.99 price of M3 Power when it hit stores in May 2004. The new offerings will contain one less refill cartridge than M3 Power did when it launched, Mr. Hoffman said.

$1 billion in global sales expected
Gillette expects men will use the pricier Fusion blades "a little bit longer" than they current use Mach 3 system blades. Mr. Hoffman said he expects Fusion to reach global retail sales of $1 billion and surpass Mach 3 as the leading men's shaving system by 2008.

Mr. Kilts dismissed any notion that launching a new men's razor system at the same time Gillette is merging with P&G will cause any problems. "I think we're going to write the Harvard case study on how to execute an integration at the same time we're launching a major new product," he said.

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