JANUARY 19, 2011
JOHN A. QUELCH HEATHER BECKHAM
Clean Edge Razor: Splitting Hairs in Product Positioning
On August 9, 2010, a group of executives from Paramount Health and Beauty Company (Paramount) sat in a research room intently observing a dozen men shaving on the other side of a two-way mirror. The subjects were testing out Paramount’s newest nondisposable razor, Clean Edge, and discussing the experience. The verdict was extremely encouraging. The majority of men felt it was the closest, cleanest, and smoothest shave they had encountered. Clean Edge’s improved design provided superior performance by utilizing a vibrating technology to stimulate hair follicles and lift the hair from the skin, allowing for a more thorough shave.1 Jackson Randall, product manager for Clean Edge, sat in the darkened observation room considering the positioning strategy for this new product. He had led the new product development process and was now grappling with how to position the product for the upcoming launch. All executives at Paramount agreed Clean Edge should be priced in the super-premium segment of the market. However, some executives believed Clean Edge should be launched as a mainstream entry within that segment, with the broad appeal of being the most effective razor available on the market. Others felt a more differentiated niche strategy, targeting the most intensely involved super-premium consumers, would be optimal. Paramount had decided to launch this technologically advanced product into the men’s market first where the company had the strongest presence, with an introduction into the women’s market following soon after. As Stuart Quimby, director of Paramount’s U.S. Grooming Division, left the observation room, he asked Randall to provide a recommendation to the executive steering committee by the end of the week for product positioning, brand name, and marketing budget allocations for the launch. Randall felt he understood this new product better than anyone; now he just had to determine the best course of action for Clean Edge and convince his boss of the merits of his strategy.
1 Paramount would be the first company to provide scientific testing by a third-party lab to back these claims.
HBS Professor John A. Quelch and writer Heather Beckham prepared this case solely as a basis for class discussion and not as an endorsement, a source of primary data, or an illustration of effective or ineffective management. This case, though based on real events, is fictionalized, and any resemblance to actual persons or entities is coincidental. There are occasional references to actual companies in the narration. Copyright © 2011 Harvard Business School Publishing. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of Harvard Business Publishing Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School.
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The U.S. Razor Market
The U.S. Razor market could be broken up into several categories, including nondisposable razors, refill cartridges, disposable razors, shaving cream, and depilatories. Clean Edge competed in the nondisposable razor and refill cartridge categories. Nondisposable razors experienced approximately 5% growth per year from 2007 to 2010, with refill cartridges capturing slightly less growth of approximately 2% per year over the same time period. Most of the growth in this market can be attributed to innovations and new product introductions....
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