Marketer's Brief: Dollar Shave Club Shows Signs of Slowdown

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Welcome to the latest edition of Marketer's Brief, a quick take on marketing news, moves and trends from Ad Age's reporters and editors. Send tips/suggestions to [email protected]

Think Seattle is America's coffee capital? Think again. The city with the most java shops per capita is actually further north. To find out where, read below. But first we start with the latest in the battle for razor supremacy.

Gillette's big R&D projects for caregivers and superheroes
Gillette newest entry in the razor wars targets targets people who need help shaving. The new Treo razor is the first one designed for caregivers to shave those they care for. The effort originally kicked off with a video in June from Grey. But the broader development project includes partnerships with nursing and group homes, plus an open invitation to distribute 50,000 of the razors free to caregivers. After collecting feedback from those users through December, Gillette will refine the design, which includes an easily disposable and clog-free blade, paintbrush-like pivot handle and 96-percent water-based gel. It's not clear how much Treo will cost once it hits the paid market.

This is an unusually open effort for the normally secretive razor skunkworks at Procter & Gamble Co. That is, unless you count this video on how Gillette develops razors for the Justice League. It's really a spoof to promote licensed products around the movie, and a gender-diversity effort given that the lineup includes a Wonder Woman version from Venus.

Is Dollar Shave Club flattening?
Gillette itself has been like a superhero fighting a losing battle to Dollar Shave Club, a veritable poster child for how digitally enabled brands have pummeled industry giants in recent years. But now an analysis from data management provider 1010data based on purchase history from its eight-figure online panel suggests DSC annual sales have flatlined at around $200 million since Unilever bought the business last year for $1 billion. The analysis finds DSC's customer retention rates and acquisitions both falling, though that does at least mean it's treading water by selling more stuff like butt wipes and hair and skincare products to folks who stick around. Distant rival Harry's has gained e-commerce share the past two years, even as it also moved products offline to Target, according to 1010data, which doesn't have data on how e-commerce efforts by other smaller brands or the big incumbents Gillette and Edgewell's Schick are doing. DSC says 1010data's numbers are "inaccurate," without specifying how.

Buffalo Wild Wings, hungry for patrons, dives into Esports
With esports gaining in popularity and sales suffering, Buffalo Wild Wings has inked a deal to give it more placement in esports, a move that might also help increase visits to its restaurants. Buffalo Wild Wings was one of the first official marketing partners of ELeague last year. Now, it's also the official hangout for Team Dignitas, an international gaming team. B-Dubs gets prominent logo placement on the sleeves of the team's jerseys, player appearances at its restaurants, and exclusive content on monthly Dignitas livestreams on Twitch and Facebook.The pact kicks off Wednesday with the first "Buffalo Wild Wings Stream of the Month," with Elle "Ellektrikk" Lockyer set to livestream on Twitch from 10:30-7 p.m. EDT. The chain and Dignitas plan to host an amateur "League of Legends" tournament at TwitchCon on Sunday Oct. 22 and are planning an online amateur tournament.

Northern Exposure
While there seems to be a Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts or other coffee chain on nearly every corner, the metropolitan area with the most coffee shops per capita is Juneau, Alaska, which has 22 coffee shops. Yes, Juneau (population of about 32,739) has more coffee shops per capita than any other metro area. There actually are more coffee shops in the country than there are people in Juneau. The number of gourmet coffee shops in the United States rose 2 percent to 33,129, according to a "restaurant census" from NPD Group. The number of chain coffee locations rose 5.9 percent to 18,445, while independent units fell 2.2 percent to 14,684 units. "Greater consumer access to chain coffee shops makes it more difficult for independent coffee shops to compete, which is why we're seeing a drop in independent units," Greg Starzynski, director- product management, NPD Foodservice, said in a statement. Anchorage ranks second in per capita coffee shops, followed by Bend, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon.

Apple takes bite out of Chicago real estate market
Apple's glitzy new store in Chicago is worth a cool $71.4 million. Crain's Chicago Business reports that is the value that Walton Street Capital put on the 20,000-square-foot flagship as part of its recent $360 million acquisition of the building and a neighboring office tower at the high-profile 401 N. Michigan Ave., according to Cook County property records. The store, which has a roof that looks like a laptop, opens on Oct. 20. Meanwhile, Amazon is in expansion mode, literally at the expense of other retailers. The e-commerce company just signed on to take over six floors of the Macy's building in Seattle. The Seattle Times has more.

Would You Buy This?

Snickers Credit: Mars Inc.

Three limited-time Snickers flavors play on the Mars brand's "hunger bar" names. Irritable? = espresso flavor-infused nougat; Wimpy? = fiery (hot pepper); and Indecisive? = salty & sweet (salted caramel).

Number of the Week
0.2 percent: The amount measured in outstanding shares by which Procter & Gamble beat Nelson Peltz in a proxy battle, or about 6.15 million votes.

Tweet of Week

Rodrigo Troni, most recently chief marketing and innovation officer at snack maker Snyder's-Lance, was named president and CEO of Sky Valley Foods, which sells dressings, sauces and other products under the Sky Valley, Organicville and Bella's brands. Prior to Snyder's-Lance, Troni held positions at Pinnacle Foods, Sabra Dipping Co. and Cadbury. At Sky High, Troni replaces interim CEO Scott Lurie.

Contributing: E.J. Schultz, Jack Neff, Adrianne Pasquarelli, Jessica Wohl

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