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Schick, with new ownership and attitude, is no longer acting like the distant, often docile follower of Gillette Co. in the razor business.

Schick is getting juiced-up marketing support since the announcement in February that Energizer Holdings, owner of the Energizer battery brand, would buy the Schick brand, along with its European cousin Wilkinson Sword, from Pfizer.

The April launch of the premium-price Intuition system for women, begun while Schick remained part of Pfizer, is Schick's biggest ever, backed by $120 million in marketing support via WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson USA, New York. Schick will follow that with the mid-September launch of Quattro, the first four-blade men's razor, backed by what one retail executive says will be as much or more marketing support than Intuition. While razor launches have tended to come once a year, Schick is launching two in 2003. In a recent talk at a Goldman Sachs investor conference, Energizer CEO Patrick Mulcahy wouldn't discuss spending plans but said the pace signals Schick's transformation from "follower to challenger."

Schick was "something of an orphan" at Pfizer, he says, and its share eroded in recent years as major Gillette launches such as Mach3 and Venus went unanswered.

If Gillette is worried, it's not letting on. "Energizer is a good marketer and a good competitor," says Eric Kraus, VP-communications at Gillette. But Mr. Kraus says Gillette, with an all-time-high market share in 2002, isn't changing strategy because of a change of ownership at Schick.

Mr. Kraus expects Schick to spend aggressively to get consumers to try Intuition and Quattro, but he adds the real test will be consumer retention-something Mach3 and Venus have achieved by increasing sales in the second and third years.


Still, Schick's Xtreme 3 has made enough progress in the smaller, less profitable disposable business that Gillette in June broke its first media advertising in 15 years for disposables behind the new Sensor3, via Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York. While Sensor3 "significantly outperformed Xtreme 3" in consumer tests, Mr. Kraus says, the goal is to stabilize share, not woo consumers from higher-margin systems. Gillette also broke new ads this spring for Passion Venus, a pink-color version of its Venus women's razor.

And it looks to expand the franchise further with the Venus Spa Collection. "Our new-product pipeline is full," Mr. Kraus says.

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